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FROM TODAY'S SHOW
- Exnations - Found You (Pop/Alternative)
- The Pocket - Lila Rose (Reggae/Rock)
- Fellowcraft - Glass House (Hard Rock/Blues)
- Clutch - D.C. Sound Attack! (Hard Rock)
- Hundredth Nomad - Dosed (Hard Rock/Grunge Rock)
- Laura Tsaggaris - Dig (Rock/Americana)
- The Duskwhales - Lavander Ladies (Indie/Pop)
- Intro/Outro music by Fellowcraft (Hard Rock/Blues)
Video - Bio - Photos - Transcript
JR MacDonald is the Guitarist and Frontman for Fellowcraft, an original Rock and Roll band from Washington DC. He started playing guitar at age 17, and wrote his first song in a matter of months. He's a veteran of the US Air Force, and spent 13 months overseas while enlisted. He has been an active fixture in the DC Music Community for over two years. JR has been featured as part of Fellowcraft on numerous worldwide podcasts, Television, and Radio. He has never put milk in his coffee; he favors simplicity.
Interviewer: Tell us about J.R.? Then tell us about J.R. and Fellowcraft?
J.R.: Well, J.R. is short for Jon Ryan, I have been a musician since I was about 17 years old. My mother was a singer/songwriter and a worship director, she used to do worship music. Still does. She has been playing guitar as long as I can remember. She taught me how to play at a very young age when my brother was taking lessons and decided he wanted to move over to the bass guitar, so I picked up his acoustic, I still own it, and I started playing. My mother taught me a couple of riffs, and she's like, "I'm not going to teach you if you're not going to learn," and I said, "All right, I'm in this, I'm learning." That riff that I learned became a song, that song kind of followed me and that's how it all started. It started by learning a few chords and then picking up from other people what they would teach me.
Interviewer: Wow, so you brought that and so now J.R. is the front-man for Fellowcraft. What are your roles in the band, how does that part work?
J.R.: Being a front-man for band really is just another way of saying lead singer, or at least just the connection to the audience. I think you mentioned earlier, I really do enjoy jumping around and getting wild and crazy on stage because it's really where I draw my energy from. The songs themselves, the band members, like you and Brandon, and then the connection through the music to the crowd itself. You know we've played so many shows, I mean I jump around for the sound-man, you know, so if it's just me and the sound-man-
Interviewer: This is true, and listeners, he keeps referring to talking about may as well because I am the drummer in Fellowcraft, which is the same band that J.R. is in, so I have my band-mate on today, and that's why we're going to talk about some things sounds like we're talking to each other because we're in the same band because we are. I have seen him jump around for the sound man.
Interviewer: You know what? He still does it just for the sound-man. It doesn't change, it's kind of incredible to watch him do his thing. It doesn't matter whether it's for two people or a sold out show at the Black Cat, he's the same crazy performer and it's amazing. J.R., speaking of like jumping around at the Black Cat and stuff what's proudest and or coolest moments that come to mind from your music career so far?
J.R.: Two of them specifically, one was our Black Cat show. We played the Black Cat in the summer and we were opening up for an incredibly talented band called Rainbow Kitten Surprise, and I love their music I was really looking forward to opening for them. When we loaded in the back I was bringing all my gear into what I call hallowed ground, the Black Cat is holy ground to a musician in this area. I saw Johnny Graves' sticker right there on the dumpster and I just thought to myself, "Like, I'm walking in the shadow of my heroes," I've looked up to Johnny from the moment I met him. That was really cool. Being backstage and feeling the energy, like Dave Grohl was here, you know.
The other thing that comes to mind is playing at Rock and Roll Hotel specifically, like as y favorite show I've had but I think one thing stuck out, it was recording at Inner Ear Studios and not just at Inner Ear, but with Don Zientara. I mean, he did Fugazi, he did the Bad Brains, he did the Slicky Boys, I mean this guy is a DC institution, and there we were as a band. Not only in his presence, but under his tutelage in his studio. It was an amazing experience. I walk in the shadow of the heroes I grew up looking up to.
Interviewer: Really, and it truly was an incredible experience working with Don, I could say. I was definitely an institution ad listeners if you've got questions or thoughts for J.R. you can send them over on Twitter, just tag at DC music rocks. I will get them over to him while he's here on the show. With that I want to hear about, so talk about the biggest lesson that you've learned?
J.R.: You got to respect the hustle. I mean, as a musician its a hustle. It's hard. It's half business, it's half songwriting. Its a relationship. Every band that I know of, every single one of them, the band-mates are like boyfriends and girlfriends, or boyfriends and boyfriends, or girlfriends and girlfriends. It's wild to see it happen. It's a hustle and it's hard. There's people's feelings, there's people's opinions, and then on top of that you've got all of this marketing that you have to do, image coordination, and let's not forget, your main reason you got into this was because you wanted to make music. In my case like, I wanted to write music, and play music, and perform, so that's one little sliver of it. I would tell any musician that's getting in the game, "Respect the hustle. Be good to those people around you, be polite, be professional, but respect how much work this really is."
Interviewer: There is certainly a lot that goes into it, and becomes a team effort, that's for sure. The better the team the better it is. Absolutely. Share with you us, how do you find your music? How does that come to you?
J.R.: Typically I find my music through shoes that I go to, or friends that are into a band and tell me about it. I don't have one place that I go. I'm not a Spotify guy, I'm not a Bandcamp dude. I'll go anywhere if you have an album out, I can find it. I just Google you. You know? As an artist you get to control the direction and medium of where your music goes. If you don't want to put anything on the internet and you just want to sell CD's out of the back of your car, if I've heard your music and like it I'm going to buy a CD out of the back of your car.
J.R.: Most of the time, it's shows. Like I go to a show, one of songs that's on listed was a band that I saw at the 9:30 Club, and I'm like, check this band out, going to get their stuff. That's as simple as it is for me. If I like your stuff, I will ask you where I can find it and I'll go get it. I hope other people do the same.
Interviewer: Definitely. It's a blessing, well fans like you are certainly a blessing because it's just not ... sometimes everybody has their different approaches and I love that about you, man. You do go out, I've seen you go out and get the CD's. With bands that we're playing with, too. I've seen it. All right. One piece of advice? I love to end with this question because I think it appeals to everybody and I love hearing the responses that I get from guests, so for you, what's one piece of advice you have for DC musicians, and one piece of advice you'd offer for DC music fans?
J.R.: For DC musicians my advice is simple as possible and that is just support the scene. Help bands out. Go to shows that aren't on your bill. Help a band out when they need a guitar, if one breaks. I had a musician who [inaudible 00:06:36] who was on a bill with me at Rock and Roll Hotel and I blew out two strings during a solo and it was going to take me a hot minute to fix it up, we can a plan for it, but he just walked over and just handed it to me. "Here is a guitar, J.R.," I think that's the kind of thing that makes this scene so amazing to me. Support the scene. Go to their shows, help them out when they need it, get on bills when you can, be as professional and polite as possible, but support them.
To fans it's really simple, go see bands play live. It's that easy. I mean, I relish every bit of support I can get. I am so thankful to anyone if you've liked my video online, if you've followed us on Spotify, anything. Anything you do, thank you so much. I won't ask you to do anything beyond that, but if you really want to make a different just pay the cover charge and get in the venue. You can buy merch, you can buy drinks to support the businesses, but that's it, just go to shows.
Interviewer: I think that's a, going to shows is an interesting thing if you go to shows, please by all means introduce yourself to the band, to the bands and to the musicians because for me, and I know for J.R., it is truly a treat when people after the show, we love to stick around and talk to folks. If you enjoyed the show, or if there's a part of it that you enjoyed, same thing with your comments on the videos. That personal connection is a powerful thing, but go on to that shows, in person.
J.R.: I would say the same thing to the artists. Be good to your fans, they're the reason that we get do this. You and I don't get to play music in DC for any other reason other than people come out and watch us do it so I want to make sure that every single on of them is taken care of and has a great experience.
Interviewer: Absolutely. Thank you J.R. for the words of wisdom and for sharing a little bit about you. It's a treat to get to know the man behind the music which is why I love this part of the show in the interviews, it's truly a treat. Then the next part of the show, has to do with bringing great music. One of the things that I challenge all my guest to do is to bring us great music and J.R. has delivered ten-fold on that on. First up for today, J.R. what do you have for us?
J.R.: This is a song by one of my favorite bands of all time, this is Clutch, with DC Sound Attack.
Interviewer: Sweet. Thanks guys, you're awesome.