Loneliness proves powerful for Jason – July 2002
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Loneliness proves powerful for Jason  Print

By Rick Teverbaugh, July 2002

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After the comeback album, "A Blazing Grace," "Clear Impetuous Morning" followed a year later. The timing of that release completely coincided with a big push the alternate country movement was receiving nationally.

Even the group's old label, EMI, took notice and reissued "Fervor" and "Lost And Found" on one CD. Some of The Scorchers early work was updated in '97 when the band recorded its first live concert which was released in '98 as "Midnight Road & Stages Seen.

Change has been a big part of Ringenberg's life. He put out his last three discs on his own label, Courageous Chicken. The first two were "Wildfires + Misfires" and "Rock On Germany." The former included alternate takes and rarities while the second was from a 1985 concert. The third release on that label was the solo "A Pocketful Of Soul.

But his new release is for the Chapel Hill, N.C.-based Yep Roc Records. There's ample evidence that while his intensity is still sometimes off the chart, his personal life has resulted in a change in the way he writes and what he writes.

Right in the middle of "All Over Creation" is the tune "Camille," a tribute to his daughter performed with Swan Dive. The liner notes show a photo of him and Camille and the song's lyrics reflect a sensitivity he has rarely shown in the past. "Now in my times of trial/I pray that I will find a way/To love and smile as openly/As you do every day.

"I believe I'm much more positive now," says Ringenberg. "There's a lot of feminine energy in my house right now. There's a more positive energy, and I thank God for it.

So perhaps his life just doesn't provide nearly as much fodder for the subject of his new songs. "I'm writing in third person a lot more now," laughs Ringenberg. "There's not nearly as much done in first person.

One thing that is being done in first person is touring to places beyond the continental United States. He has several trips to Europe upcoming, some of them in very minute spurts. Even though it might not make a lot of financial sense, he is still not reluctant to go.

"My response in Europe has always been as good or better than it has been in the states," he says. "In Europe, there is more support for all kinds of music. The governments get more involved in the support of music. I believe roots music is exotic to them, much more so than it is over here.

The new disc has some straight forward country, some rock, some hillbilly and some pop. The music clearly defies categorization, and that's a product of his own tastes and capabilities, yet he also realizes that it makes him a tough performer to market and get heard on commercial radio.

"Even though it isn't my direct concern, the difficulty in marketing me is part of my daily reality," says Ringenberg.

One of the cuts is a reworking of an old Scorchers standard titled "Bible And A Gun." Ringenberg has rewritten the lyrics to fit in with a Civil War time frame. Steve Earle, who wrote the song with Ringenberg, joined him on the disc for the new rendition. It was a reunion that he didn't expect due to Earle's demanding schedule, but when Earle showed up to sing his part, he not only got into his part of the duet, he also helped Ringenberg with some dialect lessons along the way.

"He told me if the singer was from Missouri, he would pronounce the state's name 'Mizzoora,'" recalls Ringenberg. "I was just blown away by the way he got into the song."

From a small Illinois town to a European musical attraction, Jason Ringenberg has covered a lot of ground and shows no signs of slowing down. He continues to attract new fans while maintaining a Pied Piper effect on his old fans who follow him through the many and varied permutations of his musical vision. He is one of the longer running enduring country success stories.

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