Jon Wolfe’s Approach to Country Music: Frank It!
That classic Nashville sound mainly resides in Texas these days, but Jon Wolfe's mix also includes an influence more and more country stars are owning up to sharing: Frank Sinatra.
On the surface that's a strange brew, but so is gin and tonic and those two swim together splendidly. When you listen to Wolfe's new Any Night in Texas album or any of his previous projects, you won't hear crooning. Wolfe tries to capture a similar sense of smooth, however.
"For me, Harry Connick Jr. and Frank (Sinatra) were my gateway drug to George Strait, which is probably opposite a lot of people," Wolfe tells Taste of Country, laughing. "I was raised in a Pentecostal home, in a pretty strict home in small town Oklahoma. So I wasn’t really allowed to listen to secular music growing up. My parents made exceptions for oldies and guys like Frank Sinatra."
There were other exceptions. U2 were OK by mom and dad, but pop music was forbidden. Later in life when his father would hop in the car with him, Wolfe would have to quickly switch off the pop station. In spite of (or maybe because of) these restrictions, he still learned about country legends and his contemporaries. A more traditional sound comes easy to him, but his music is always personal in message and delivery. A bad breakup powered some of the moments on Any Night in Texas, but fans won't hear that as much as they'll hear a guy crafting an album with his live show in mind.
"There’s definitely still a traditional pull down there," Wolfe says of Texas, his adopted home state. "I fell in love with country music. Probably the ‘90s country as a kid, that’s the stuff I love. For some reason I think the Texas scene, they just embrace it a little bit more."
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Another Frank Sinatra fan helped with his single. "Baby This and Baby That" was co-written by Darius Rucker, and Wolfe says that it slipped through his hands is a blessing. Songwriter Jonathan Singleton recorded the demo, and it's his performance Wolfe tries to capture during the "perfect summertime jam."
Look for Wolfe on tour across the southwest this summer, and on the road with Aaron Watson this fall. Together they'll play Nashville's Ryman Auditorium on Oct. 4. It's billed as a night of Texas music, but Wolfe's full repertoire of influences will be on display.
"I was a kid in middle school cranking Frank," he exclaims.
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