To kick off the new year, Evolution of a Fan caught up with Americana singer-songwriter Jiggley Jones, out of Coatesville, PA. Last year was a huge year for Jones, who took home the Songwriter of the Year award at the 2013 International Music and Entertainment Association Awards (IMEA), which was held in Ashland, Kentucky. Jones took some time to chat with us about his music, fans, and family.
Evolution of a Fan: How did your upbringing affect the type of musician you are today? What kind of music were you exposed to at an early age?
Jiggley Jones: I only dabbled in music when I was really young, singing at church and playing the clarinet in elementary school. It wasn’t until my later teens that I started to get serious about my love for music. I think the radio was my main influence musically when young and as I got older and bought my own albums I was finally able to branch out a bit.
EOAF: What does it mean to you, to have won the 2013 IMEA Songwriter of the Year award?
JJ: Wow, “Songwriter of the Year”. This is my forte, my bread and butter, my contribution. It means everything to me to be recognized for that!!
EOAF: What is your songwriting process like?
JJ: I do try to block out time to write because I really need to focus on the mental side of the music without distraction. I usually start with a guitar chord progression or “riff” and then I’ll “scat’ sing a vocal melody over that. I might even put in some vocal harmonies before I sit down and painstakingly work out the lyrics. Usually they will be based off of how the music is “moving” me at the time.
EOAF: What types of things/events/experiences inspire you to write?
JJ: Everything I’ve stumbled across in life inspires my lyrics. Mostly I generalize so the listener can put their own life into the song. Once in a while I get more specific but overall music means emotion.
EOAF: How does “storytelling” play a part in your music?
JJ: I have told a few specific stories in the past but I feel the story is up to the listener to develop in their own mind.
EOAF: Why type of venue/music event do you enjoy playing the most?
JJ: I really like the coffee house or small “tight” room/bar. The sound quality is usually perfect for what I’m doing which most of the time is me with my acoustic guitar and maybe one other instrument at most.
EOAF: What do you enjoy the most about performing live? Any specific experiences that stand out from your shows?
JJ: There’s an energy in the air that can’t be simulated in any other situation. There’s always that pressure to get it right and perform with the emotion that you need on a consistent basis. So playing live pulls out that inner you and when you’re on, you’re on. It’s always nice to get those compliments at the end of the night also.
EOAF: Which musician/band has had the most profound influence on your songwriting/performing?
JJ: Classic rock was always my go-to influence. I still listen to it today. Mix some old Neil Young with some acoustic Led Zeppelin, and throw in some Eagles and Steve Miller and there you go.
EOAF: What musicians would you have on an iTunes playlist?
JJ: Other then the ones I just mentioned I would go more current and throw in some Blackberry Smoke, Zac Brown, Dave Matthews, and maybe go real old school with Mozart.
EOAF: Is there a story behind your name? If so, care to share?
JJ: Well it’s certainly not that interesting of a story but Jiggley is a real nickname that I’ve had for years. I was at a party one night up in New York and that name got stuck to me during the night somehow and of course that spread like wildfire. Everybody that ran in that circle of friends called me that from then on. Fast forward a handful of years and when this project started I thought I’d use my old nickname just for fun. Everybody once again seemed to like it, so it stayed.
EOAF: In our crazy technology driven world, what is the best way for you to get the word out about your music? What seems to work best (word of mouth, social media, etc.)?
JJ: Definitely social media. Because of that I have an international fan base instead of just local and I’ve never left the country, so that pretty much sums it up.
EOAF: What kind of support have you received from the music scene in PA?
JJ: I love Pennsylvania and you’ll find just as many music lovers around here as anywhere else. The one problem with being from rural Pa is that there aren’t a lot of original venues around and you have to travel. As far as support goes, I have a lot of old friends from my local area who follow my social media sites.
EOAF: What do you think of the re-emergence of “roots”/”Americana” music in the mainstream? Good, bad, indifferent? Any rising acts that you really like?
JJ: Man if it weren’t for the re-surgence of Americana/roots stuff I think I’d be in big trouble as a songwriter, lol. I have to say that I do like The Lumineers and I think that they and maybe Mumford and Sons have really given Americana that “mainstream” push. I’m sure there are plenty of others I didn’t mention also.
EOAF: What was your experience like writing music for various MTV shows? Have you watched MTV lately? Do you think it still is an important avenue for musicians?
JJ: There are other music video choices these days which is great. MTV specially, though the innovator of the popular music video, has changed away from that format it seems. Maybe YouTube has something to do with that I don’t know. We didn’t write music specifically for MTV, they actually picked up what we had written and used pieces of it on the shows as soundtrack stuff.
EOAF: How has your work with Bright Star International changed you? Why is this charity so near and dear to your heart?
JJ: To be honest, though I am on the Bright Star roster, I haven’t worked with them yet. I am definitely looking forward to working with them and the various charities that are involved with children. I have three youngsters myself and they mean the world to me. It kills me to think that there are kids out there that don’t have the opportunities to thrive in life. Bright Star themselves are not a charity but an organization that hooks artists up with charities. What a great idea !!
EOAF: Have you always been a Taylor guitar guy? Tell us a bit about your guitar and how it helps you tell your story.
JJ: This is my first Taylor and I don’t think I’ll ever change from that. One day I picked up a friend’s Taylor and instantly fell in love with it. I just wish I had enough money to go out and grab up a few more of them. It’s mainly a comfort thing and that means a lot to me as I’m playing for long periods of time. The feel is great, the sound is great and the quality/workmanship is great. What more can I say.
To learn more about Jiggley Jones and his music, please visit: http://jiggleyjones.com/wordpress/