Jason Dickerson grew up around music. His father played in a Bluegrass band and his mother was also good on the banjo, though she chose to keep her talent at home. Jason was often taken along when his father would play, but his life changed with a fateful visit to Boomer’s Deli in Roanoke. They went to see his dad’s friend, Mark Stegall, playing his one-man show. It was the first time Jason had ever seen a solo act, and it was a huge influence. Just one guy playing a guitar and singing songs? Fifteen-year old Jason watched the singer and thought, “I could do that!”
It wasn’t long before Jason was honing his guitar skills and writing songs. With a few originals in the bag and a scattering of covers, he began performing at open mic nights in Roanoke. From these performances, Jason was able to book a few gigs and quickly establish himself.
From Roanoke, he went to Fredericksburg and continued his musical mission. Being a solo act, he also had to become his own manager. Through practice, he built up the confidence to approach people and talk to them about himself and his music.
He played for many years while living in Northern Virginia. Mostly to be found in the region’s Irish pubs, Jason built his reputation not only for his music, but also for his special and lively brand of banter and audience interaction. He loves connecting with the crowd and finds that it’s much easier to do for a solo artist.
During 2004 – 2005, Jason was sometimes joined onstage by bassist friend Rodney, but in the end, Jason is a solo artist at heart. He simply finds it a more streamlined operation. He expends no effort in coordinating the schedules, activities, and logistics for multiple bandmates. With all the extra time, as well as freedom from the stresses that come with collaboration, Jason is free to be creative with songwriting and performance style.
Jason says that the music of legendary artist, Steve Earl, is often described ‘roots-rock-renegade’. Featuring a collection of classic country, blue grass, classic rock and alt rock, Jason Dickerson’s performances might be similarly described. Depending on the crowd, he likes to keep a good and even mix of originals and covers, but you’ll find very few hits on his playlist. Jason prefers songs that may not have seen a lot of radio play, but that are significant for the artist he’s covering. Songs with history. With his guitar and harmonica, he brings to life music from Tom Petty, Levon Helm, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, John Prine, Graham Parsons, Tom Waits, Lucinda Williams, The Animals, Steve Earl, and more.
As for his originals, Jason has recorded a few, but has purposefully not made them available on CD or for download. He likes to surprise people and keep everything fresh in live performance. Last year, however, a new chapter in his musical growth presented itself. Jason says he wants to get more serious, and to that end, has a fire in his belly to write and record one…good…song.
For this very significant piece, Jason wants to keep song writers in mind. How would a song writer judge his song? He has gone once or twice to see other performers, then stayed behind after everyone had left to play for the musicians. He also likes to dissect music and study the component parts. Bob Ryman once said, “It’s not what, but how”. This is how Jason approaches songwriting. He does his homework, and he’s very focused on the art of music-making. It means more to him that the commercialism.
In fact, Jason has no stars in his eyes. No ambitions of making it big or going commercial. He’s a welder by trade, which allows him to keep his pursuit of music pure, and for the sake of the craft and the audience.
Jason likes playing BBQ festivals and charity events where a lot of people can hear him and, if they like, can speak with him in person. With no website or Facebook page to promote himself as a performer, Jason relies on, and prefers, word of mouth.
Jason had quit drinking seven years prior to discovering the brewery scene for musicians. He first went to Apocalypse Ale Works in Forest, Virginia, where he met Wes, the bartender. The two became friends, and they talked for months about Jason setting up to play on a Thursday night. Eventually, however, Jason got more serious and, like Nike, just did it. It went over so well he played there every Thursday night for six months! He’s loves what breweries can offer musicians. It’s more intimate, with room sizes working great for solo acts and duos.
In addition to his growing fondness for good craft beer, Jason also quickly developed a fondness for the breweries, themselves. He just likes people and is thrilled to say that he’s never seen anyone drunk in a brewery. “It’s not like a bar. People know how to act.” He says it’s a better crowd, and so it’s a better time. The people there actually like music, and they are there to hear the music while having a good time.