Happy Music Friday to you! We have an exciting interview for you today. Mountain Town are an acoustic band from Utah, America and today they release their brand new single The House Always Wins! I caught up with singer and songwriter Dr. Jon to find out all about it.
Hello Jon tell us three unknown facts about yourself?
Anybody who dives deeper into Mountain Town will soon discover that I’m a Dentist. For 20 years I practiced in Park City, Utah (The Mountain Town) with both a private surgery and considerable Public Health time at our local (and wonderful) non-profit clinic.Along the same lines – anybody who does a little internet research will see that I’m the principal/owner at Dharma Wheels Cyclery bicycle shop.
While studying at Uni and then Dental School I worked at a “mom and pops” bicycle shop as a mechanic and having a tradesmen family background (automotive industry) instilled the values of a solid days work and the beauty of repairing machines of sport and utility.Folks may be surprised to find that I’m a bit fearful of travel.
No difference if it’s motorcoach or airplane – the stress of forgetting important pieces has always haunted me. At our 2006 wedding trip my dear Wife can attest to a more than mild “melt-down” from your-truly after realizing that I’d brought all my cycling gear to enjoy a nice weekend…..except my clip-in shoes.
How did you get into music?
After years of professional lessons in piano, guitar and composition, I found that I could make a few bucks sessioning and playing out at University. This helped out as well in Dental School and while building up a patient (really, fan) base for the dental practice in Park City. I should credit my fellow local musicians and Music Industry professionals for the encouragement to make the leap to self-publish a few songs to get the ball rolling. And of course, most recently I mustn’t forget to credit The Animal Farm (London, UK) for fantastic artist development and guidance on songwriting and the business of being a (more) professional musician.
Who do you find your inspirations?
Artists and leaders. We’ve just lost Tom T. Hall…who last month I’d say was my favorite living songwriter. I love him because of his consistency. Owen Bradley and Clive Davis are inspirations because they have (or had) “the ear” and know the business…insight that I don’t know if I’ll ever cultivate. After deciding to give up his law career to try out the music industry, I believe the first artist that Clive signed was Janis Joplin.
Tell us all about your latest single The House Always Win?
It’s a good one! Our ranch is near Las Vegas, Nevada USA and you can feel the influence. Lights, chance and reward. Besides being a song about risk and reward “The House Always Wins” speaks to our current situation with the Corona Virus and the global condition it’s created. We all have risks in everything we do – it’s important to know when to “fold it in…and when you let it ride” as the song goes.
How long did it take to write the song?
Ha!, 5 minutes. And that’s not because I’m a great songwriter – sometimes it just goes that way. And it wasn’t perfect – the label changed the key to get more boom from my voice and set up the harmonies.
Where does the inspiration for the song come from?
Really from a place of desperation. For the past 3 years I’ve worked as a Hospitalist (most dentists in the US don’t work at Hospital) and due to Covid – we’ve had a large uptik in ICU and critical care cases. The song is tempoed as a dance-type track but the message is cautionary no doubt.
What is the most challenging thing when it comes to producing a record?
There are 1000 things. I always ask myself, will the label like my material? Is this the best that I can do? Am I making the right choice with song, art, key, content? Does this selection maintain and grow the image and brand that I’m putting out there? These can be terribly personal decisions and I always recommend listening to the experts, being willing to change for the better…and having thick skin.
You have an album coming soon as well, what can you tell our readers about that?
This is exciting! Plans were to get together a collection of the house concert material that I’ve put out as singles to make a debut album but I met with The Animal Farm via Zoom this week and we’re planning on instead doing a proper studio album. That being said, I’d still like to do a “demos” album for shows and the folks that are interested in the “rough cuts” and origins of the Mountain Town sound.
How do you warm up for a show?
Nothing in particular. It’s funny, one thing that I do (especially for solo shows) is to set up early and keep 20-30 minutes free before I go on to either grab a bite to eat or just cool down from hauling and setting up gear so that I don’t go on a sweaty mess. If it’s a pub known for food, I’m famous for asking my road manager/Wife (Kim) to order me up a dish in the first set and then eating only a bit of it (cold) during the intermission “meet and greet” before the 2nd hours’ set. Usually we have a sack to take home for breakfast the next day.
Also let’s talk tour – will there be live shows coming next year?
Yes indeed! It seems that we’ve had a bit of a “plan big – then scale back” experience with live acts here in the US lately. Our latest 3 day run in Utah was particularly wonderful and safely well-attended. Here’s to hoping that our promoters and booking agents keep us busy and that we can all enjoy live shows safely in 2022.
What is one of your favourite songs to perform live?
Lately it’s been “Cash Tips”….which will be out shortly on all streaming platforms. It’s good for dancing, it’s good for singing….and for the band, it’s good for getting folks to put a little coin in the tip jar.
What is the toughest songs to perform live and why?
Recently at a show a fan asked if I’d play “Soul Shine” (Warren Haynes) as it was a special song between her and her late husband. She was with several friends and they were all in tears at the front of the stage just 1/2 way into the song and it quite affected me as I sang it out. It was a very special song and proof that music can really help us to remember, celebrate and heal our spirits.
Our site also is about improv – in a music sense, what have been some of your favorite improvised melodies that you have created and been able to use in songs and why?
This is a good one. My road manager teases me sometimes that I’ll change up the lyrics of a song or add a verse to improve a song or (as she says) “fix it”. Two examples are on the widely covered “Sing Me Back Home” and “4 Strong Winds” where I put in 3rd verses. For years, I’ve played those songs and seen the audience just wanting a little more out of melodies. Goes to show you – never be afraid to improvise – let your heart guide you and don’t be afraid to have the audience judge you.
What are your plans for the rest of the year ?
Always busy times around here. Working on some radio promo (singles and for the album). Working on the album tracks. And of course, playing live shows!
And finally why should people check out your music?
The music of Mountain Town is good for the soul especially in these strange times. It will remind you that we are all human. We are all imperfect. We all make good and bad choices….and that we should all sit back and reflect on what is important in our lives while giving the people around us a little extra grace. People who live in Mountain Towns cherish their friends and neighbors. They speak the truth and lend a hand. Be it a hard winter or an unexpected life event, we help each other make it through together.