Growing up in Austin, Texas, during the late 1980s and early 1990s, Jack Wilson says he “couldn’t help but be influenced” by Austin’s rock, folk and country artists.
“[But] from the beginning of my musical consciousness, I was mixing pop rock with the Austin sound,” he adds. “As a young kid, like as young as 6, I was hanging with guys in their 20s — my counselors at this horseback riding camp. I remember hearing Stone Temple Pilots’ Core, Nirvana’s Nevermind and Weezer’s blue album as they were being released.”
In his own music, Wilson’s style leans more toward textbook singer-songwriter: think Neil Young and Elliott Smith, who is among his favorites. The now-sober Wilson describes Spare Key, his recently released second album, as “possibly the last will and testament” of the since-retired “desperate character” version of himself.
In concert, “I try to introduce the [Spare Key] songs honestly, based on the character who wrote them, and why he did,” Wilson explains. “It’s not hard to put myself back there, to be honest about where I was — it’s important to remember.
“The shows are naturally more energetic than the record. We have a large band, made up of some of the best musicians in Austin. The live show is a marriage of who I was when I made the record and who I am becoming.”
In the past, Wilson did a lot of shows with no band — and his only touring companion was his dog, Finn. One of Wilson’s most memorable moments with Finn took place at a “super-fancy” hotel in downtown Chicago, a city that “does not tolerate dogs,” he says.
“I wasn’t even leashing Finn at this point,” Wilson recalls. “I think I found a bungee cord in the back of my car and hooked it onto his collar and strolled through the five-star lobby to the elevators. I was wearing sandals, an undershirt and mid-thigh length shorts — high as a Georgia pine. Eyes forward, straight up the elevator and into the room. No one said a word. After that, it was in and out, all weekend — not a word. It was beautiful.”
— By Chris M. Junior
Jack Wilson on tour (schedule subject to change):
* July 15, 22 and 29: Cactus Café — Austin, Texas
* Aug. 24: Pianos — New York
* Aug. 26: Herzfest — Newton, N.J.
Photo by Jen Hellow