Music News

I'm Eighteen!

Page 3 of 3

"When I listen to some tapes of old Cajun House shows, I can see that I was all about playing a million notes a minute. But I went from being a very green young guy who didn't really know how to sing, pace a set, front a band or write songs to now where I'm nothing special but I've gotten better. To tell you the truth, I don't think that much when I play. I don't think at all, really. I just play whatever comes out."

Simo's also become more comfortable writing things that fall outside the blues idiom. One Night Stand contains several songs that eschew the 1-4-5 pop format, and one honest-to-God rock ballad called "Till the Morning Comes." This week has found him recording an original called "Sooner or Later" that he likens to "a John Mayer song sort of. I love John Mayer, which my buddy Hans Olson makes fun of me for, but he writes great songs. I love that Any Given Thursday CD; you can tell the guy went to music school with those chord progressions.

"I had that riff for a long time and I didn't want to write it because I thought that's not me. It's just that thing of letting things happen. I don't have any qualms anymore. I'm not Big Pete Pearson. I like rock and a lot of other types of music. Blues-rock is what I do."

The gradual movement to more pop-oriented songwriting comes just as major-label interest is rearing its head. Jonny Lang isn't getting any younger and neither is Duarte. Looking at it in cynical A&R terms, they want to snap up J.D. while he is still young enough to turn heads in amazement. Looking at it in economical A&R terms, look how much product he's shifted without any outside help! Looking at it in pure logical terms, the staid national blues scene is due for some new blood -- and J.D. Simo is more than ready to supply the transfusion.

Originally, Simo and Dirty Pool were looking to make a live recording, but that plan has been sidelined in favor of a studio album with the live band. They've just finished rehearsing the song "Sooner or Later."

"Man," says Simo. "We cut out a verse, a bridge and an outro to try to get it under 3:23. It's at 4:23 right now.

"The 13-year-old J.D. would be throwing a fit about the cuts, but the 18-year-old Simo says it fits the song."

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Serene Dominic
Contact: Serene Dominic