FROM TODAY'S SHOW
Used the Easy Listening Jams Playlist at a small gathering at my house, was a huge hit! Shout out to 70+ artists on the playlist for puttin out GREAT music!
We're up to 17 videos from DC area talent who've shared their Tiny Desk videos for NPR with us! Check them all out on the Find-Browse Artists Page!
- Mark Trail - Jelly Roll Mortals (Rock/Classic Country)
- Last Rights of a Living Leg End - Cartoon Weapons (Hard Rock/Math Rock)
- Cant Write No Songs - Human Country Jukebox (Country/Rock)
- You, Me, and the Tennessee Blues - Tom McBride (Country/Folk)
- Doing Time in Pennsylvania - The Highballers (Country/Punk)
- Prairie Rain - Justin Jones (Rock/Folk)
- Intro/Outro music by Fellowcraft (Hard Rock/Blues)
With over 750 shows under his belt, you might call Jack Gregori the man who brought country music to the buttoned-up bar scene of Washington, DC. And while Jack has now honed a well-deserved reputation for genuine Texas-influenced country and western musical style (and attitude), his musical path began far away from the cradle of country music in Texas and Nashville.
In 2015, Gregori performed on NBC’s "The Voice" to an audience of over 15 million viewers and was selected by the judges to advance on the hit show, eventually ending-up on “Team Adam.” Working alongside the likes of Grammy Award-nominee Ellie Goulding and three-time Grammy Award-winner Adam Levine, Jack’s charismatic baritone put him firmly on the country music map as a rising star to watch. Gregori’s multiple performances on the international hit show resulted in the eventual recording and release of two singles: “Feeling Alright” - the legendary Dave Mason song made most famous by Joe Cocker’s 1969 rendition, as well as, Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire”, both of which were released in the fall of 2015 through Republic Records (a division of UMG Recording). The national exposure has not swelled the native New Hampshirite's head, however. When not touring, Jack can still be found each week performing at his long-running residency in Washington DC’s favorite local bar, Madam's Organ.
Official Website: http://www.jackgregori.com/
Human Country Jukebox
Official Website: http://www.humancountryjukebox.com/
Brian: Jack Gregori with over 750 shows under his belt, you might call Jack the man who brought country music to the buttoned up bar scene of Washington, D.C. In 2015, Jack performed on NBC's The Voice to an audience of over 15 million viewers and was selected by the judges to advance on the hit show, eventually ending up on Team Adam. Working alongside the likes of Grammy Award nominee Ellie Goulding and three-time Grammy Award winner Adam Levine, Jack's charismatic baritone put him firmly on the country music map as a rising star to watch.
His multiple performances on the international hit show resulted in the eventual recording and release of two singles, Feeling All Right, the legendary Dave Mason song made most famous by Joe Cocker's 1969 rendition, as well as Johnny Cash's Ring of Fire. They were both released in the fall of 2015. When not touring, Jack can still be found each week performing with his band Human Country Jukebox at his long-running residency in Washington, D.C.'s favorite local bar, Madam's Organ.
I went to Madam's Organ and I have seen Jack play, and it is truly a sight to behold. All the shows are a little different. They're such a laid-back group, but yet they play such fun music and it's different every time. Listeners, it's with great pleasure that I introduce Jack Gregori.
Jack: Thanks for having me, Brian.
Brian: Thanks so much for being here, man. Rewind now and tell us how music came into your life. How did that start?
Jack: It was always there really. From the earliest I can remember, it was all about the music.
Brian: Does that mean you came out of the womb with a guitar in your hand?
Jack: Pretty much. It was a difficult birth.
Brian: Was it always guitar? Has there been more than one?
Jack: Now, I actually started playing saxophone when I was a kid.
Jack: Yeah, and migrated to piano and played that for a little bit and got tired of that. Really, what happened is I got a car and the piano lessons went right out the window after that.
Brian: That was it.
Jack: Yeah, so around the same time I got a guitar, which that was crucial.
Jack: That was the way to go. A lot more portable.
Brian: Exactly. So then you stuck with it all the time? Was it on the side? Did you do it in school?
Jack: Not really. We played some in school and did it in high school and that kind of thing, but it wasn't the kind of situation where I practiced as much as I should as far as the guitar went.
Brian: Sure. I got it.
Jack: But it's been there. Just varying degrees of intensity.
Brian: Then Human Country Jukebox is the band. How did that come together?
Jack: That came together fairly organically. A bunch of current friends of mine met at an open mic at Bobby Lou's. It was hosted by the inimitable Silky Dave of Gypsy Sally's fame currently.
Brian: Silky Dave. Hi, Silky Dave.
Jack: Silky Dave. Hi, Silky. He owns the Gypsy's with his lovely wife, Karen, who I will not fail to mention.
Brian: Got it. Karen, you are such an important part of that dynamic duo. We appreciate you, too.
Jack: Absolutely. We all met doing open mic and it kind of just morphed into this thing. Getting back to the naming conventions here, we had the same experience where you just sit there and try to brainstorm for hours and hours, trying to figure out what's our name going to be. What's it going to be?
I have sort of come up with this name for myself as a joke, Human Country Jukebox, because I just love this kind of music and we'd have get togethers or parties or whatever and people would throw out songs and I'd play them and it would just be the thing, so it was the Human Country Jukebox. Then, we just got tired of trying to think of a name, so we just came up with that and then sort of that was the way it was.
Brian: Human Country Jukebox. At what point, how did The Voice come about?
Jack: Actually, Silky, on a whim, sent my name into them to see if they wanted to have me on or audition.
Brian: Oh, sure.
Jack: I get an email out of the blue, and he didn't tell me he did this, so ...
Brian: Oh, boy. Really?
Jack: Yeah. I get an email out of the blue and I'm like, "All right. This is probably not real. Let me investigate this." I looked at it and it was real, so I sent them back a message and they said, "Hey, do you want to audition for The Voice?" I said, "Do I have to stand in line?" They said, "No," and I said, "Okay. I'm in."
Jack: The line was a deal breaker for me.
Brian: The line? Really?
Jack: Oh, yeah.
Brian: Yeah, because it is a pretty long line.
Jack: I don't like standing in line. That's the thing. Yeah, so anyway, went in and arduous, arduous process. It was fun though and it took a long time.
Brian: When you say a long time, does that mean it was days? Where was it? This was in D.C.? Was it in L.A.? Where was it?
Jack: I auditioned here, so we were at Cue.
Jack: I went down there and did the audition and then, you know, you have to go through a number of callbacks and it's a whole thing. It's not like you audition and then the next day you're in front of the judges.
Brian: How long did it take?
Jack: Oh, months. Yeah, months. Half a year, probably.
Brian: Okay. Did you get to meet the judges beforehand?
Jack: No, no.
Brian: It really is completely blind? You get out there. You've never seen them before. They're in chairs, facing backwards like on the show?
Jack: Yeah. There's no interaction on our end anyway. Maybe they were watching from afar, but ...
Brian: Right. Cameras or something. Wow. When you walked out there, what were you thinking? Were you just, "I'm going to nail this song?"
Jack: I was thinking, "Don't fall down." I'm serious, man.
Brian: Stop. That's it? Really? Don't fall down?
Jack: Oh, yeah. Don't fall down. Don't fall down. That was it. Yeah, it is nerve-wracking. You go up there and it's quiet as can be and they start the music and you go. That's it. You have one chance.
Brian: Online now, you can pick up a copy of the song you did, Ring of Fire, for your audition. Is that actually the live recording that's online or do they bring you in and you record that?
Jack: No. Yeah, it's separate. You can still watch the audition piece on YouTube or whatever.
Brian: By the way, if you haven't seen it, check out ... He's got two awesome videos. Check out Jack on the YouTube channel because ... What a cool experience, man.
Jack: It was a lot of fun.
Brian: Holy smokes.
Brian: What did you take away from ... When you came back after that whole experience, what was that like? What did you take away from all of that?
Jack: Oh, it was surreal. I mean you don't get that opportunity very often. Yeah, coming back, I got a lot of from people that I had seen and had seen me play 50, 100 times, that worked in the scene, all of a sudden, like, "Hey, man, you're really good. I had no idea."
Brian: I've seen you 50 times at the bar and now you know?
Jack: Sometimes it just takes somebody else telling a person that you're like good to make you good.
Brian: Oh. Got it.
Jack: I'll take it.
Brian: When you got back, you came right back to playing with Human Country Jukebox?
Jack: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Just got right back into it. That's the whole thing.
Brian: Was it different afterward?
Jack: Yeah, it was a pretty big bump right afterward. It was a lot of energy and good energy. Yeah.
Brian: When you say bump, what is that? Just more people?
Jack: More people, more energy, just more action. It was great. Yeah.
Brian: Okay. How long did that last?
Jack: Oh, maybe three months of solid push. Then, you kind of get back to the routine of getting your shows in and playing. You know, back to the grind.
Brian: Yeah, so talk about the grind, then, for you. What is that? It's Human Country Jukebox. How many shows a week? What's life like for you now as a musician?
Jack: Playing quite a bit still. At one point, we were doing maybe 15 shows a month sometimes. That's pretty intense. That's a pretty intense schedule. Sometimes, we were doing three, four, five nights in a row.
Jack: It's fun and you do it and it's good, but that gets tough sometimes. Now, we're probably down to two, three times a week sometimes and depending. I've been intentionally pulling back a bit so I can focus more on writing and rehearsing if possible.
Brian: Writing, so writing for a new album?
Jack: Writing for a new album. Yep. We're getting some songs together for ... Hopefully, by the end of the year, we'll have something out. That's the goal.
Brian: Rehearsal, what's rehearsal like for you guys? When I see you live, people call out songs ...
Jack: It doesn't happen often.
Brian: ... and you play them. Is that how it works in rehearsal, too?
Jack: No, we try and be slightly more focused if we have rehearsals, which is seldom.
Brian: Which is rare.
Jack: Yeah, very seldom. That's the good and bad thing about playing so much. The good thing is you keep pretty sharp with each other and you get that rapport with the other musicians and that's ... There's no substitute for that really.
The downside is everybody's so tired from gigging that you don't necessarily want to do it on your night off. You don't want to get into a rehearsal space and grind it out for four hours on a Monday night. That's the sort of double-edged sword.
For rehearsals, we try and be more focused because if we're going to be trapped together, it's better to have people there to listen.
Brian: Right, and you've got to find time. In the rehearsals, you've got to find time to do the new songs, too, and put those together.
Brian: That's ... Wow. Now, when you think about you on the personal side, when you're not doing the music thing, what's life like for Jack?
Jack: Well, you know work. A lot of work. Got the day job that I go to. Fortunately, it's flexible.
Brian: Got it. Flexible schedule, that'd be handy.
Jack: Flexible schedule is good for a musician's life.
Jack: You don't get out until three in the morning playing music and then you have to get up the next day and you don't want to get up at eight. Believe me. You know.
Brian: I believe you. I know actually. Yes, absolutely. It's rough.
Jack: It is rough. Fortunately, I've got the flexible schedule, but honestly, I try and do the music as much as possible. That's where a large chunk of my energy goes.
Brian: Are you big into reading or you join a book club? Are you training for a marathon? Are there any other ... Life for you, you're a big foodie? You like going out on the town? What's life like?
Jack: Oh, sure. Yeah, I mean if I can, I go catch shows. I go catch shows as much as I can in D.C. and sometimes out of D.C. Foodie, sure. The part of D.C. that's great is that the restaurants are amazing around here. I do smoke a lot of barbecue myself in the old backyard there.
Brian: All right. A barbecue man, which explains why you love some of the ... Like I've seen, I know Hill Country Barbecue is a play that you play.
Jack: Oh, love it.
Brian: That must be good eating that night.
Jack: Love it.
Brian: Shout out to the guys. If you haven't tried Hill Country Barbecue, you need to go try it. Go on a night Jack's playing and it's a combination. It's a heavenly combination of good music and good barbecue. That's everything.
Jack: That's a great place. They have great artists that come through there as well.
Brian: When you think back to Human Country Jukebox, what's the funniest moment that comes to mind as you think about the band?
Jack: Well, we take a lot of risks with that band. Part of that is we're fortunate enough to play so much that we feel comfortable that if we take a risk and it doesn't go so well, we'll be okay.
Brian: Take a risk meaning try a song and it didn't work out? [crosstalk 00:12:56]
Jack: Try a song. It doesn't work out. My favorite is when we bring people up on stage and inevitably they insist that they know every word to every song and then we get them up and we say, "Okay, tip us and you can come up and sing it." They'll come up and it's just a train wreck a lot of the time.
Brian: Is there one particular that try? What comes to mind? What song was it?
Jack: I don't even remember what song it was, but there was a guy who came up and tried to make our bass player play two bass solos. Not just one. The first one went okay and it was fine. It was dragging on and after the second time, he said, "Bass solo," the bassist, Danny, stepped right in front of the guy and said, "This is over. Get this guy off stage. We're done."
Brian: Oh my God. All right.
Jack: Sometimes you have to do that, but those are the kinds of things that I really like and that was one good example. [crosstalk 00:14:04] He threw some colorful language in there, too.
Brian: Somebody told me there's a Jukebox story that there's certain songs that you don't want to play, but a good tip you'll do just about anything. Say more on that.
Jack: That's generally how it works. I mean money talks. That's the bottom line with a bar band like that. Some stuff, we'll play for free and other things. Of course, everybody's down on Wagon Wheel and that's an expensive ... You're looking at 250 for that.
Brian: Okay. All right.
Jack: Occasionally, we'll make exceptions. [crosstalk 00:14:33]
Brian: ... and you'll do it, but all right.
Jack: Yeah, we'll do it. We won't like it, but we'll do it.
Brian: Now, what's an example of songs that you do like? What comes to mind? We don't even need a tip. We'd love to play that.
Jack: Oh, anything by Doug Sahm, who's just amazing, and if you don't know who he is, you're doing yourself a disservice. He's just ...
Brian: Okay. Doug Sahm, check him out.
Jack: ... one of those guys that transcends all. Yeah, Doug Sahm. William Jennings. Sure, Johnny Cash and those. Haggard, of course. Anything by The Band or Neil Young. We love that. All that stuff.
Brian: Got it.
Jack: So those are pretty much free. If you're a good patron though, of course.
Brian: If you come regularly, then you can request.
Jack: Yeah, sure, but I mean we don't turn down the tips of course. You want the tips. It's always nice.
Brian: Yes. That's the [crosstalk 00:15:24] ... Musicians, man. Musicians love a little bit of cash. That's true. It's absolutely true. What do you have in your music collection that might surprise us?
Jack: Oh, you know, Grease soundtrack probably.
Brian: For real? The Grease soundtrack? Oh my God.
Jack: Yeah. I know. You laugh, but they're great musicians playing on that soundtrack for real.
Brian: Right. That's exactly what I think when I hear that soundtrack is, "Oh, listen to how good those musicians are." No, I'm joking.
Jack: Right. I know. I know you don't.
Brian: I'm glad that you do.
Jack: Yeah. Totally. I like all kinds of stuff. Elton John, I get a lot of surprising looks about that for some reason and I don't understand. The same thing, I mean that ... Amazing artist, great musician.
Brian: Yeah, he really is.
Jack: I just ... Top notch. There are a lot of things like that, but I like it all. Judas Priest.
Brian: Oh, true. Judas Priest.
Jack: That's one that I get ...
Brian: My favorite question to ask ... The last one that I've got is what's one piece of advice that you would offer?
Jack: Be nice.
Brian: Be nice? Meaning when you're on stage? Say more.
Jack: All the above. Well, not necessarily on stage. Part of our shtick when we do the Human Country Jukebox stuff is if you request a song we don't like, we might give you an earful and tell you where you can put that song.
Brian: Oh, which contradicts the be nice concept.
Jack: Right, but it's all in good fun. I'm talking about be nice to the people that work there. Be nice to your sound guy. Be nice to other musicians in the scene. Be helpful and be pleasant. That's how you get work to a large extent.
Brian: Now, for folks who want to find out more about you, where do they find out more about you? Where can they go?
Jack: You can go to my website, which is JackGregori.com. That's G-R-E-G-O-R-I, or you can go to the Human Country Jukebox website, or you can go to either of those on Facebook or Twitter, if you like. It's @CountryJukebox or @JackGregori. Any of those ways. We have all the social media that you could ever want.
Jack: You can find it.