Flashbulb Flashback: Jody Jones Songwriter’s Residency // 5.23.12

{Update: Jody Jones has returned to Los Angeles, but his Fort Worth Songwriter Showcase continues Monday nights at Magnolia Motor Lounge. For more on the man: http://www.jodyjones.com/}

A few weeks back I met up with Jody Jones at Magnolia Motor Lounge to learn more about his Songwriter’s Residency at The Grotto. The free shows run on Monday nights. I have seen Jones a couple of times around town and as I remembered from his performances Jody is as engaging as he is genuine.

Picking up the gig in mid-January, Jones thought he would revitalize the format to allow more voices on the stage. Giving the audience more surprises with each night’s show, he figured he could keep from burning them out on four hours of his songs every week. “This allows me to get artists paid.” A labor of love, he takes care of everything from the booking to the sound.

He even makes sure to carry the tip jar around between sets, “If everybody kicked in three bucks or so, it would make a substantial difference for all the artists that are playing.” I’m not sure folks realize what a privilege these types of showcases provide for avid listeners. Like gaining access to the blueprints of an architect, one can hear skeletal lyrical structures that may go missed with a full band.

After trotting through the typical open mic nights and song swaps, Jody Jones thought the Grotto was a perfect locale for a different showcase. He referred to places like LA, Nashville and New York, where long-running showcases are competitive and draw huge crowds. They are an integral part of artist development, back to Greenwich Village’s Folk Revolution, and of course the infamous showcases over at The Bluebird.

“I make sure the artists are taken care of from start to finish,” Jones has picked up soundboard tricks over the years that offer artful support to the songwriters as they play, “Sometimes a little reverb can bring out something really special.” Recent standouts have been Steve Nichols, Jake Paleschic and an acoustic set from The Hanna Barbarians. Jones noted how nice it was to see the band play their songs in a more intimate setting. “The showcase is starting to get its feet under it, last week we had people sitting on the floor.”

Jody Jones has learned a lot over the years, having returned to the Fort from fifteen years in LA back in 2008 intent on making a record, “This business requires tenacity.” The process was educational, and for a while he toured around with sideman. But things lacked the feel he was looking for, so he eventually went solo, “If you try to force it, things blow up in your face.”

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