Band’s singer is back where he belongs
By Scott Akanewich
Music was something Jason Kane White grew up with as a child in Lubbock, taking his lead from parents Don and Nancy, who were both singer-songwriters in country-mad West Texas.
However, White had more of an edge to his music, playing in a rock band called Shattered Tears, in which he was lead guitarist throughout his high school years.
No surprise, then, when it came time to pursue his musical calling, his journey didn’t take him east to Nashville, but west to Los Angeles.
“My parents brought me up on country,” said White, whose current band, Jason Kane White and The Lonesome, will headline the Dancing Under the Stars Charity Concert Series at Shooting Star Ranch on July 2. “But, of course, I wanted to go a different path.”
So, White and his bandmates packed up and soon found themselves in Tinseltown, playing venues on the Sunset Strip in the shadow of the famous Hollywood sign.
It was the early 90s and the hair metal scene of the 1980s was slowly beginning to fade from the pop culture consciousness with bands such as Ratt, Motley Crue and Poison being replaced with Seattle-inspired grunge acts.
However, all of it was new to White, he said.
“Growing up in Lubbock, we only had exposure to so much,” said White. “There was no internet or anything back then, so whatever was on the local rock radio station was it.”
But, after three years in Los Angeles, White decided he had endured enough of the West Coast lifestyle and decided to return to his home state – only chose Austin over returning to his hometown.
“My dad had moved to Austin,” he said. “So, I went there instead. Funny thing is we almost moved there in the first place instead of L.A.”
So, one might say his return to the Lone Star State had been in the stars all along, although from the mid-90s on he continued to play guitar in rock bands for the next two decades, primarily with Austin bands illcamino and 8 Million Stories.
Not until 2015 did White truly come full circle not only in a geographical sense – but musically, as well – joining country band Red Dirt Coalition, during which he began to sing along with his guitar duties, which he played in for the next few years until it was time to once again shift his musical ambitions.
Upon joining Red Dirt Coalition, White had met fellow guitarist Rick Skillman and it wasn’t long until the duo set out to form a new band.
“We wanted to write our own original songs,” said White. “We went through a few different phases, but we finally just released an EP – it’s the first album I’ve even done.”
Along with Skillman, bassist Paul David and drummer Clay Gilbert, Jason Kane White and The Lonesome’s self-titled record is the culmination of all the years White has under his belt coming to fruition.
“For me, it’s been great because as I’ve grown into being a lead singer, I feel as if my musical career has started over again,” he said. “I don’t think I would still be doing this if I hadn’t been inspired – now all I want to do is write songs and sing.”
Speaking of inspiration, White said some of his more meaningful and poignant songs are ones written directly from the heart.
“Usually the songs I like most are the ones that come from a personal place or by experience,” he said. “Sometimes, you just write fiction, but the others are the ones I really connect with.”
Such an example is “Dark Horses,” a song that deals with the nature of relationships that have gone horribly wrong.
“I’ve had close family who have been through bad relationships over and over only to keep going right back,” said White. “So, the song’s all about trying to break away.”
White is an independent artist, meaning there is no contract from a record label to pay the bills, so he still works construction during the day before picking up his guitar at night – but says even with days that begin at 7 a.m. and don’t end some nights until a gig is over as late as 11 p.m., it’s still worth it after all these years – although he certainly wishes he could completely drop one profession for the other, he said.
“I just think of how much more time I could put into music if I didn’t have the daily grind to deal with,” said White. “But, that’s all about getting bigger shows.”
For now, though, White is simply content to have found the right combination of musicians with which to work – as that makes all the difference, he said.
“It’s very difficult to find the right chemistry,” said White. “I’ve been really lucky with how all this came together because it’s difficult to find guys who are really willing to commit – it can be a real challenge.”
White lists Chris Stapleton, Eric Church and Turnpike Troubadours as artists who still influence him and said he hopes people who see his band walk away feeling equally impacted – and wanting more.
“We want people to come see us again and go find our music,” he said. “Of course, we want them to enjoy it and make a good connection with the crowd.”