Singer-songwriter Jonathan McEuen returning to SOhO with unheard songs by one of country music’s greatest songwriting teams
Country singer-songwriter and guitarist Jonathan McEuen has been playing SOhO Restaurant & Music Club since he was 19 years old, so having 18 brand new songs to perform is as good a reason as any for him to make a return to the venue. In a phone interview with the News-Press the musician gave from his vocal coach Renee Grant Williams’ Nashville home, Mr. McEuen spoke extensively about the two-part show he will perform at SOhO on October 20, one half consisting of songs from his back catalogue, and the other half made up of new material that the musician said he recently “collected.”
By “collected,” Mr. McEuen was referring to new songs in his repertoire that aren’t his own compositions, but rather decades-old songs by country music’s famous husband and wife songwriting team Felice and Boudleaux Bryant. The Bryants penned many hits, perhaps most notably The Everly Brothers’ songs like “All I Have to Do Is Dream,” “Love Hurts,” and “Wake Up Little Susie,” but they also produced a treasure trove of songs for the duo that were never recorded. Through his friendship with Mr. and Mrs. Bryant’s son Del Bryant, Mr. McEuen came into possession of a tape with hundreds of these unreleased songs.
As of his conversation with the News-Press, Mr. McEuen was planning on performing at least three Felice and Boudleaux Bryant songs and had decided on two of them: “The Runaway Set,” and “Gatlinburg in October.” Describing the couple as “the heart and soul of songwriting in America,” Mr. McEuen told the News-Press that he is particularly inspired by how Felice and Boudleaux Bryant embodied the “Americana tradition” they came from, which entailed creating music in the kitchen, the epicenter of one’s house.
“I’m inspired by their ‘come from,’ which is that they wrote their music in the kitchen, and that’s what country music is all about,” Mr. McEuen said.
In addition to the never before heard Bryant songs, the singer-songwriter will dig into his career’s past and perform music he recorded with Hanna-McEuen, a duo that consisted of him and his cousin Jaime Hanna. Mr. McEuen and Mr. Hanna’s mothers are twin sisters who respectively married Nitty Gritty Dirt Band members Jeff Hanna and John McEuen. Hanna-McEuen songs expected to be in the SOhO gig setlist include “Ocean,” a number Mr. McEuen co-wrote with singer-songwriter Jimmy Adams on a beach in Ventura County. According to Mr. McEuen, “Ocean” has been a particularly important song for him as far as the music business is concerned.
“‘Ocean’ is the song that got me every deal I ever got,” he said.
However, Mr. McEuen’s all-time favorite song to perform live is “Good 2 You,” written by his mentor Dave Mason, a singer, guitarist, and founding member of late 60s rock band Traffic. When asked what makes the song special to him, Mr. McEuen explained it’s because the song’s theme of treating a woman well resonates with him, and because of his relationship with its writer.
“Dave was my rock and roll father. He taught me how to rock,” Mr. McEuen said.
Mr. McEuen’s biological father on the other hand, taught him how to pick. A renowned banjoist in and out of The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, John McEuen taught his son banjo picking techniques that Mr. McEuen then adapted to his instrument of choice, guitar. As far as Mr. McEuen can tell, this use of banjo techniques is what people like most about his guitar playing .
When he takes the SOhO stage, Mr. McEuen will share the bill with fellow artists Suzzanne Paris and Steve Postell, for a performance he anticipates will be “like the Grand Ole Opry comes to SOhO, but it’s us.”Tickets for Mr. McEuen’s performance at SOhO cost $12 and can be purchased online at www.sohosb.com. Doors to the venue open at 6:30 p.m. and the show begins at 7:30 p.m. SOhO Restaurant & Music Club is located at 1221 State St #205.