Jason DeGeorge - 10 Questions Music Interview
Jason DeGeorge is a renowned instrumental guitarist. Heis best known for his work with Country sensation Leanne Weiss and recently touring with Kenny Rodgers. His latest project is a soul-stirring version of the Ben Harper/Charlie Musselwhite’s blues hit “Nothing At All” that Harper has hailed as “A masterful cover.” Enjoy our 10 Questions interview with Jason and learn more about his music experiences.
Was there something (an experience) or someone in your life that was the "catalyst" for you to start writing music? Tell us about it.
I was driving back in a tour van from Nashville. We'd just finished some great performances down there. We started playing songs in the van. Songs from the band we were in and also from the other projects we had worked on. And then we listened to albums from each member's personal bands (we were all hired guns in this project.) When they got to me, I didn't have anything to play for them of my own. Just session work. I've been very lucky to have people trust me to play on their records and performances over my career. The responsibility is to play in a way that helps support the artist who has hired you. And I love to help people achieve that! But, you have to remember, it's not your project. And sometimes you have to ignore what YOU might do if it was your song. You have to say, wait...what is appropriate for the artist? And sometimes that is different than your own musical instincts. You have to have the professionalism to not make it about YOU. That day in the van, I realized that I needed to play on a record that was about ME. Just write some songs and let it rip! So here we are! It's been very liberating.
Let's get this out of the way. What is the CRAZIEST thing that has ever happened to you in your music career?
iPlay America in Freehold, NJ. We were opening up that night for another artist. But this was really like a warm up show for the next day. The next day was the Farmborough festival in NYC, opening for Dierks Bentley! So, we set up, sound check, and get ready to play. We were going along quite well through most of our set and we sounded good. We had a bunch of family and friends at the show. It was a good night. Until......the second to last song. We would always end with two high-energy tunes to close out with a bang. Halfway through the second to the last song, I look over at our bass player. He is generally high-energy on stage. But he is looking pale and not moving much at all. He looks in pain. I was trying to figure out what was up.... he motions over to his left shoulder. OK, your shoulder hurts got it...... As we end the song, he leans over to our drummer and says, "Chris, my shoulder is out. Do you know how to put it back?" To which Chris and I both said "What?!?!." Turns out, he had an old injury and on more than one occasion, his shoulder would dislocate! Just then, our singer counts off the last song. She has no idea what was going on behind her! He tries to keep playing, but the pain is too great. He puts his bass down and walks off stage. The rest of the band keeps going. Mainly because we have no idea what to do haha! We finish the last song and I put my guitar down and catch my family's eye. Thank God they came to this show. I wave my Dad over and I explain the situation -- that we need him to take Mike to the emergency room NOW. Which he does.... with a little help from Google. None of us are from Freehold. After we clean up the gear we call my Dad to find out where the hospital is. Once Mike saw the doctor, they knocked him out and put his shoulder back in place. Like a true champion, Mike played with us the next day at Farmborough and we killed it!
What has been the high point of your music path?
I think hearing feedback from Ben Harper himself on my rendition of his song "Nothing At All". In the music world not everyone is willing to help out another artist. In the past, artists helped each other out. Nowadays, I get people who ask me to follow them on social media all the time. Then if you ask them to check your stuff out.......radio silence. Kind of lame. It was more of a community in the past. Maybe because people congregated at clubs watching each other more. Ben still holds true to the past in that way. If he hears something in you, he wants to help you. He is a special guy!
So, how do you approach songwriting or what is your creative process like?
I write on guitar and piano first. But, I also write a lot on the composition software Sibelius. It's great because it will play the music back to me. Yes, it sounds like a computer. But I can hear how the notes are flowing. And I can imagine what the final product will be like once I play it on guitar. It also lets me be a listener. Sometimes a musician can have a different concept of how something works while they play. And a different one when they are a listener. I try to listen first.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Indie Artists today? Or, if you could ask the music industry to change one thing, what would it be?
The music business has a true duality right now. On one hand, it's never been easier for people to be exposed to new or undiscovered artists. But at the same time, we see the success and parody of all these music competition shows. What that says to me is, people are used to having someone tell them who to listen to. Disc jockeys, television shows, etc. Which was backed by labels who had the liquidity and contacts to make it so. I really wish the industry did more to showcase all the wonderful genres and talents the world has to offer. It's one click away on your computer........yet people still seem to need to be told where to look.
If you could share the stage with one other artist or band, who would it be and why?
I would love to play on the Generation Axe tour. So many of my heroes are on that tour. It would be like taking a master class every night! What a way to learn and grow!
What are your rehearsals generally like? Or, how do you prepare for a live show?
We generally warm up on the songs we know best. Then we move on to the more challenging ones. Or if I'm writing a song, I may have the guys play a few things I'm considering at rehearsal. This way I can see what options work best. I can also get their input.
Pick one song that was your greatest challenge to write. Tell us about it!
I have this new song I just recorded -- "Thermopylae Pass". It was inspired by the Spartan 300. Seeing the movie 300, I asked myself, "what can I write that could be almost a sound track for this battle?" So, I wrote a 10 minute progressive metal tune! It is absolute fire! Very challenging to compose as well as play. I'm excited to play that live!
What's coming up in the future?
Over the course of the year, I'll be releasing the rest of my debut EP. I'm so very excited to let everyone hear it! It was been so rewarding to make this EP. And I think the joy in making it really comes through.
Tell us where fans can access your music?