“‘Ain’t it Your Birthday’ is a song about leaving your hometown and then trying to come back for a visit and having everyone treat you like you showed up to a party uninvited, and everyone is hiding behind the couch and shutting off the lights when they see you arrive.”
Those are the words of Nashville singer-songwriter Jonny Fritz, a man who is no stranger to traveling and moving. Fritz has completed three marathons, rollerbladed 100 miles (in a row) and for the last year has been touring the country in support of his third full-length album, Dad Country. If you stop and consider all that rambling, it’s not hard to imagine where the inspiration for “Ain’t It Your Birthday” came from.
For his next trek, Fritz and his band will travel across the southeast supporting Lucero for 16 dates in eight different states. The first stop is a free show, minus Lucero, at Good People Brewing Company on Jan. 15.
This marks Jonny’s second appearance at Good People in the last year and a half. He also appeared at the Bottletree Café in October with Langhorne Slim & the Law.
“Birmingham is really blowing my mind lately,” says Fritz. “I’ve been playing shows there for almost eight years now! It’s hard to believe it. I always knew Birmingham had it in ‘em, but I feel like y’all have really turned over a new leaf.”
You can certainly expect some material from Dad Country at Fritz’s Good People show, but don’t expect an exact duplication of the studio recording. Fritz is opting for a more stripped-down set that night, with only Joshua Hedley accompanying on hotshot fiddle.
Fritz produced Dad Country with Taylor Goldsmith, the lead vocalist, guitarist and principal songwriter of Dawes. Along with the entire Dawes lineup, Fritz’s Nashville band appears on many songs as well. The album was recorded in Santa Monica at Jackson Browne’s Groove Masters studio, where such classic albums as Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Texas Flood have been recorded. Other recent albums recorded in-house include Bob Dylan’s most recent LP, 2012’s Tempest.
The bar is set pretty high at Groove Masters, and Fritz was certainly impressed with what went down in the studio. “I learned that if you have Dawes and Jackson Browne in your corner that you can make a record in four days,” Fritz explains. “Nobody from Dawes (except Taylor) had even heard those songs until day one of the recording session. Each song was rehearsed once and then laid down. I still can’t believe we landed that thing the way we did.”
These songs have been honed and tightened in the last year of touring, so now is a pretty good time to hear it all go down live. If you want to catch Jonny on this tour with his full band, you can do so as soon and as close as the Jupiter in Tuscaloosa on the Jan. 17. Along with Fritz and Hedley, that lineup will include double hotshot Spencer Cullum Jr. on pedal steel guitar and stick trickster Jerry Pentecost on the drum kit.
After the tour with Lucero, Fritz and the band head to California for the Stagecoach Country Music Festival. When asked about the future beyond April, Fritz remarks, “I have a few tricks up my sleeve, but they’re too shy to show themselves to the world just yet. You might want to brace yourselves though, because 2014 is gonna be a big ‘un.”
We’ll have to stay tuned to find out, but for now, we can all enjoy his upcoming show at Good People. It’s gonna be a big party, and all the lights will be on. No hiding behind the couch allowed.