Under The Radar – Jordan Minor Share
“Under The Radar” is a regular feature on the Texas Music Scene where our official blogger, singer/songwriter/journalist Mike Ethan Messick, shines the spotlight on a deserving but lesser-known artist. Some of these subjects are just getting started and might be tomorrow’s headliner (or Texas Music Scene star); some are music veterans who’ve earned admirers around the state and around the world while taking the road less traveled. All of them well worth a look & listen, enjoy.
Jordan Minor, just a few short years and one brand-new album into his career, has already risen to standout status in the Hill Country music scene, tirelessly gigging around the region and beyond. Alternately raising his profile by opening for just about every big name that comes through San Marcos’ Cheatham Street Warehouse (Wade Bowen, Chris Knight, and Cory Morrow among them) and unselfishly padding out his schedule by backing up fellow songwriters on bass or lead guitar, this well-rounded musician casts his lot with some of the all-time great story-song writers on his just-released debut The Cottonwood Tree. In concert he’ll cover anything from Porter Wagoner to Leadbelly to (no, really) 2Pac, but it’s his originals that point most directly to a bright future, even if his specialty is tunes about the past. Songs about moonshiners, gunfighters, farmers and railroad laborers simmer with history, detail, and personality, as much like a good Louis L’Amour novel as a Robert Earl Keen album. Full disclosure: Jordan’s a good friend of mine and we gig together frequently, so there’s a little more shared experience in the interview than usual. Fine by me … feel free to associate me with someone like Jordan any day.
In your own words, describe your sound.
Hmm, I never know quite how to answer this one. I’ve heard folks compare my sound to Steve Earle, Chris Knight, and Hayes Carll. I guess I’d call it Americana or alt-country if I had to label it. But really I just write the words down on paper, add a few of the chords I know, and that’s what you get. I tend to have that gravelly, whiskey sounding voice and I write a lot of ballads about working folks and life on the poor side of town.
Where are you based out of?
I’ve lived in New Braunfels, TX for the last few years. I grew up just north of Austin, TX.
What are some of your favorite and/or most frequently played venues?
Gruene Hall, Cheatham Street Warehouse, and a little hole in the wall in Hunter, TX called the Happy Cow.
Name a couple of career highlights, so far.
Playing the main stage at the Kerrville Folk Festival was great. Anytime I get to play a Sunday afternoon at Gruene Hall is fun.
What music do you have out already, and what’s coming in the near future?
I just released my debut album, The Cottonwood Tree. I’ve got a couple more albums worth of songs that I’m sitting on that need to be recorded as well. I’ve also got a gospel album in the works, I’m hoping to get that finished sometime this year.
If someone’s only gonna buy one song of yours … where to start?
I tried to make this first album something that you listen to from start to finish, which is how I like to listen to albums anyway. I get bored if it sounds like a bunch of singles that were thrown together to make an album. But I guess if I had to pick one tune I’d say “Still Shinin’”. It seems to capture my sound and writing style pretty well. And we recorded [producer, songwriter, Cheatham Street Warehouse proprietor] Kent Finlay pumping a 12- gauge shotgun at the beginning of the track, which I believe may be a first for an Americana record.
Name some of your main influences as a songwriter/musician.
Billy Joe Shaver, Guy Clark, Fred Eaglesmith, Adam Carroll, and Robert Earl Keen are some great ones. One of the best songwriters I’ve ever come across is a good friend of mine named Robert Haedge. I think he’s influenced me as much or more than anyone. I’ve also had the pleasure of writing quite a few songs with him, including a couple of cuts on my record.
Who have you played more song swaps or co-bill with that anyone else?
That might be a tie between Tony Taylor and another one of my favorite local songwriters, Mike Ethan Messick.
If a fan’s buying you a drink … what’ll it be?
Lone Star Light. Well actually, if they’re paying … probably a Guinness.
Name a couple of people you’d like to publicly thank for helping you in your career.
It’d be impossible to thank all the folks that need thanking. A few that come to mind though are Jerry Gross, Kent Finlay, Gregg Andrews, Mike Ethan Messick, Seth Hearron, and Forest Wayne Allen. I’m sure I’ve given my wife enough hell to last a lifetime, so she deserves a pretty big thank you as well!
What’s one of the strangest gigs you’ve ever played?
I played a show in Longview, TX once at what I’m pretty sure was a former strip club. Or maybe they just had the pole on stage so the musicians could stretch before the show. There was another show in Baytown, TX where an all out brawl started while I was doing an acoustic version of a Tupac Shakur song, I may be to blame for insinuating a riot. Of course you [Messick] might remember that show, I think you helped “usher” the brawlers outside while I packed up our guitars …
RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Chris Knight, Slaid Cleaves, Bigger Piece of Sky-era Robert Earl Keen, early Steve Earle