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DEMUN JONES has always had a way of keeping it real when it comes to the music he has written, recorded and performed throughout his career, but, that said, JONES COUNTY might well be the most genuine collection of songs that represents who the Georgia native is and certainly illustrates the place where he’s lived his entire life.
Asked how the songs for his forthcoming solo project came about, Demun said, “I went out in my front yard and imagined what are they doing? What are they thinking? What are they going to do? What do I see?”
Life in Jones County, which is just north of Macon, is southern and some, including the Jones family, will say they’re rednecks. They drive trucks. They fish and hunt. They like keeping things simple—sort of a what-you-see is what-you-get type of place. All the same, Jones County is what you hear and Demun is hoping people who are from there will respect and love his latest collection of 12 songs, while people who aren’t from around those parts will be “captivated by it and want to listen to it.”
Demun – a nickname he earned at a young age because he was aggressive and energetic – was 10 years old when he was transfixed by the immergence of N.W.A. and how they represented their own hometown. He’s never forgotten how that seminal album affected a southern boy down in Georgia. He’s always wanted to do the same for Jones County.
“I’ve had inspirations that cover the whole gamut of genres,” Demun said.
His musical influences are not all southern or country.
His oldest brother Chris introduced him to Led Zeppelin along with AC-DC and Black Sabbath, while his mother Cheryl introduced him to the likes of Marvin Gaye and other Motown acts, including James Brown and Michael Jackson. A ranch owned by Otis Redding is right down the road from where Jones grew up the son of a lifelong brick mason worker. He was the third of six children, who spent their hot summer days playing football in the front yard and frog hunting in a creek behind a hayfield that surrounded their modest home.
His uncles introduced him to the southern rock soundscape of The Allman Brothers Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Back then Demun wasn’t a singer, but he knew at a young age he wanted to do something musical. He started listening to hip hop and rap and was intrigued by breakdancing. That’s when he heard N.W.A. That album was about Compton, for Compton and the whole world took notice.
It was a musical documentary – sort of a bird’s eye view of life – that Demun wanted to portray in his own autobiographical song selection for Jones County.
“It gave me some hope that I could make my own music,” said Demun, who wrote his first song when he was 15. “It took a long time for me to realize I could make country music without singing the whole time and still be for the country person.”
And that is exactly what Demun, whose vocal delivery is as intense as it is distinct, set out to accomplish with Jones County.
The challenge was infusing his country inspired lyrics with hip hop grooves.
Demun said the creative process often began with a drum beat or chord progression on the guitar, while – thematically speaking – each story was influenced by characters (friends, family and actual folks from the heart of Georgia) and the very experiences Demun had come across throughout his life growing up and living in Jones County, Georgia.
“I tried to focus on music that was for people I grew up around,” he said.
No song is more familiar to him on Jones County than I’m a Man, which he co-wrote with the guys from I4NI and Jon Conner. It’s about his father Ricky, 61, who has been laying bricks past 49 years. It’s about hard work, ethics and honesty, but, more importantly, Demun said, “He’s always wanted me to sing on a song and this is one of the first, you know what I’m saying, and it’s about him.”
Demun added, “I had to do to it once I heard the demo and I did what I had to do to pull it off.”
He’s already filmed a video for Tannerite – the lone fictional tale of what happens when some southern boys are playing with explosives and what occurs when they come across a Sasquatch – and Boondocks is another tune that’s all-too-familiar to Jones and a legion of rednecks that Jones County speaks to.
It’s an actual place in Georgia, where Demun shot The Muddy Muddy video, in a 1,000-acre field in front of 5,000 people. “That’s when I really understood who I was speaking to with my direction,” said Demun, who went there to film a video and was so affect by the experience he wrote an entire song about it. It had rained all week leading up to the Fourth of July video shoot, but the weather was nice by show time and, of course, muddy.
“It was redneck heaven,” Demun proclaimed.
For Demun, Jones County is a great place to live and Jones County the album finally illustrates his evolution as a person – he’s married and the father of two girls, 3 and 4 – and as an artist. It’s all part of the freedom of expression that comes with writing songs for a solo project.
“It came natural once the process started,” Demun concluded. “Jones County was the easiest album and the easiest songs I’ve written in my life.”
These songs might have come naturally to him, but Demun has been playing music for a long time – including a 10-year stint as a member of Rehab – and it’s taken all that time for him to get to a point where he can write songs that represent his life as it is today.
He extensively toured with Rehab band mate Danny Boone and co-wrote a lot of the Rehab material, including the critically acclaimed songs for Welcome Home. He also co-wrote Welcome 2 Jawga with the Jawga Boyz, who made an appearance on Jones County as do Charlie Farley, Bubba Sparxx and Locash Cowboys.
Demun’s first mainstream credit as a songwriter came on title track of Colt Ford’s popular Ride Through the Country, which also featured John Michael Montgomery.
Get more info about Demun Jones.
Sam Grow – Opener
After the breakout success of his first studio album, 2019’s Love and Whiskey, a lot has changed for Average Joes Entertainment star Sam Grow. That milestone project followed years of grinding work, writing his own tunes, booking his own shows and recording his own EPs … but it was all rewarded.
Love and Whiskey hit Number One on iTunes’ Country Albums chart – doing so with zero radio airplay – and since then he’s only poured more gas on the fire. Grow’s 2020 single “Song About You” burned red hot, pulling in more than 50 million streams and getting named one of Spotify’s “Best Country Songs” in the process. Grow’s been featured on Billboard’s coveted “7 Country Acts To Watch” list, and touted by Music Row as a sure-bet for future superstardom, among other accolades, as the temperature continues to spike.
But with his new sophomore album, This Town, Grow goes back to where it all started. Painting a sonic picture of the small-town world he was raised in – rocked by changing times but still holding strong – he’s building on success … and letting fans know they’re never alone.
“I feel like right now I’m making some of the best music I’ve ever made,” he says – and honestly, that’s saying a lot, since the Maryland native is the definition of a “prolific creator.” Since his 2014 arrival in Nashville, he’s dropped three EPs and his milestone debut album, never letting more than a few years pass between releases. But things are different now.
“2020 was a big revelation to me, of how important music is to people’s lives – even in the worst times,” he says. “To be able to put on a song and not feel alone, even when the world seems like it’s crashing around you, that’s such an intimate thing.”
Calling his new music the “most-personal” of his career, Grow takes that realization and runs with it for This Town, embracing his journey as proof of what’s possible. Emboldened by success but still inspired by his roots, he was joined by producers Colt Ford and Noah Gordon for 12 fresh tunes, choosing soulful honesty over mainstream conformity. That go-your-own-way, DIY mindset has always been part of Grow’s blue-collar ethos, but This Town takes it to new levels.
Of the album’s 12 songs, Grow wrote or co-wrote all but one. Three of them were even written solo, as Ford and Gordon pushed him to trust his creative instincts. And then, they went to work perfecting his sound, pumping up his muscular country tone with a sleek new gloss, dripping in county-line soul.
Featuring his strongest vocal to date, plus a bold mix of ‘90s country, classic/Southern/alternative rock and even some pop punk, it’s the perfect match for Grow’s writing, with themes as timeless as they are relatable.
“We’re not the only guys who grow up in small towns and go through breakups,” Grow explains. “But I wanted to make a soundtrack for that kid to realize that someone else went through it, too. I keep saying it but, it’s so true: If you don’t feel alone in something, you can overcome anything.”
Rolling slow like a late night Main-Street cruise, the title track sets the scene. Inspired by real-life emotion, it finds Grow exploring how a home town feels forever changed after a breakup – which is something he knows his fans understand, no matter where they’re from.
“I couldn’t get these stories without being from a town of 1,500 people,” he says. “In 2020 we did this thing called Backyards and Bonfires and I went across the country to play in people’s backyards, and from California all the way back home, I realized it doesn’t matter where you are. Small towns all have the same people, we all come from the same cloth.”
Meanwhile, the romantically charged “Song About You” changed the singer-songwriter’s life forever. Built around an irresistible melody and a passionate, heartwarming hook, the track arrived in April of 2020 and immediately struck a chord. It centered on the connection between two people – and the idea that no matter what’s happening outside, love is enough.
“During that time, all people really had was each other,” he says. “If you were blessed enough to have someone in your life, it was you and them, and that could bring you back down to earth.”
Now closing in on Grow’s first RIAA Gold certification, the song is not only his biggest hit to date, it’s the proof he needed to take his career to the next level. It led directly to This Town, and everything that will come after.
“That changes your confidence as an artist, to realize you don’t need to be some guy chasing down radio to get a Number One song, or to get a Gold record,” he explains. “It changed my perception.”
The vivid emotional epic “You Ain’t Gone” shows off that perception, co-written with Keirsten Hedden as a pure-country ballad with rip-your-heart out theme. “Whiskey Bound” goes shot for shot in the getting-over-her stage, revealing Grow’s pop-punk roots with distorted guitars, pounding drums and plenty of “F-it” attitude. And speaking of attitude, the patriotic “Kiss My Ass” can speak for itself, a blues-rocking chest thumper that may as well be small-town America’s national anthem.
Put together, it shows how far Grow has already come, and how he’s never lost sight of his roots. This Town is not just dedicated to where Grow came from, but to the man who put him there in the first place, and the memory-filled “Go Right Now” encapsulates their father-son bond.
“Losing my dad was one of the darkest moments of my life, and unfortunately I know there’s a lot of people out there in that club, people who feel the same,” Grow says. “I wanted to do that thing where someone doesn’t have to feel alone in that moment.”
In case you haven’t noticed, that supportive call to arms is Sam Grow’s renewed purpose as an artist. This Town is just the first step.
“The big thing is that over the last couple of years, we’ve all had to fight through some stuff,” he explains. “Even the little things you have to go through, they become twice as hard in the world we’re living in now, and I hope people listen and realize that someone else has gone trough it. That someone has come out the other side, and that they can, too. Whether it’s a breakup, or the loss of a family member, or even falling in love, all that stuff. The world isn’t as big as it seems sometimes.”
Get more info about Sam Grow
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