Payne, Jake : What the Folk Is Roots Music?
It doesn't take much convincing to see that today's pop music has become bland and devoid of life in an age when genuine art has been sacrificed on the altar of commercialism and transformed into a disposable product for the consumption of fickle consumers. And with the recent trend of reducing music to a televised contest spectacle one is reminded of the bumper sticker stating, "If you're not outraged you're not paying attention." Fortunately there are still songwriters and musicians who transcend musical fads with genuine artistry. Enter Oregon native roots music singer/songwriter Jake Payne. "My music is an expression of my heart and soul, of who I am and what I'm going through." And in that simplicity Jake's sincerity shines through, no BS, no posturing, no posing. "There are so many strings attached to today's music," Payne says. "When I turn on the radio and hear what passes for 'country music' it pisses me off. I have no time for it." Although Payne's music is not explicitly country his concerns and opinions about that genre stem from the fact that he spent 2003-2005 playing professionally in the musical mecca of Austin, Texas. While playing bass with traditional country songstress Pauline Reese, Payne shared the stage with or opened for the likes of over a dozen country and Texas music luminaries including Tommy Alverson, Kevin Fowler, Merle Haggard, Johnny Lee, The Belamy Brothers, Chris LeDeux, Pat Green, Mike Blakely, Freddy Powers, Rusty Wier and The Derailers. "Playing music in Texas allowed me to cultivate music and business relationships as well as sharpening my musical skills. It pretty much reinforced the priority that music plays in my life," Jake says. But in the end he returned to Oregon. "In life you weigh the pros and cons of your decisions and make choices. I returned to Oregon bandless and broke. I doubted myself all the way back," he recalled about his journey home. Ultimately the decision only strengthened Payne's resolve to start from scratch upon returning to Oregon. He invested time and money into developing his own studio thus allowing him the opportunity to pursue his compositions with absolute clarity. Payne set his bass guitars aside, picked up an acoustic six-string and began writing page after page of lyrics and chord structures. He began realizing the freedom to write and record at his discretion giving his works a feeling of genuine reality, the songwriters soul unfettered and true. And therein lies the beauty: Payne's music is plain and simple, speaking where words could never reach. Influenced by artists as diverse as Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Townes Van Zant, Nirvana and Led Zeppelin, Payne's music knows no boundaries and convenient "roots music" category aside, does not dedicate his music to any particular people, social class or agenda. "I'm writing from my heart and soul, it's the only thing that matters," Jake says. He assembled an Oregon-based band to assist him in writing, recording and performing live his debut album, 'What The Folk Is Roots Music?' The disc's instrumentation of electric/acoustic guitar, organ, lap steel, mandolin and rhythm section provide an almost vintage soundtrack which transports the listener to the dusty, one-road towns, lost loves, drunken frustrations and relentless faith which inspire Jake's lyrics with a candid urgency. Before returning to Oregon in 2005 Jake experienced a one-on-one meeting that influences him to this day. He was visiting country music legend Merle Haggard in the star's tour bus. When Jake asked Haggard if he had any advice for "aspiring, young musicians," Haggard replied, "If you love what you're doing don't ever stop." And stop Payne has not. After playing a series of shows in Oregon to support the new album, Jake has packed up again and headed back to the Lonestar State to implant his own music in the Austin music scene. Like a traveling bard of old, Payne's musical experiences have led him to ask the question, just "What The Folk Is Roots Music?" Take a listen and find out yourself.