Summer Songwriter Concert Series
When: 8 p.m. Friday, July 10
Where: Brenau Downtown Center, 301 Main St., Gainesville
Cost: $20 per ticket
More info: 770-710-9191 or visit johnjarrardfoundation.com/event/summer-songwriter-series
Known for hits such as “Love A Little Stronger” and “Drinking Class,” musicians Chuck Jones and Ed Hill will strap on their instruments and tap into their singing voices to entertain a downtown Gainesville audience this weekend.
The two Tennessee songwriters will perform Friday, July 10, as part of the John Jarrard Foundation’s Summer Songwriter Concert Series. Doors open at 7 p.m. with the concert starting at 8 p.m. at Brenau Downtown Center in Gainesville.
Tickets are $20 per person and can be purchased online at www.johnjarrardfoundation.com or by calling 770-710-9191.
Proceeds from the event benefit charities associated with the John Jarrard Foundation, which was created to memorialize the Georgia Hall of Fame member.
Originally from Memphis, Tenn., Jones has written and recorded more than 140 songs with big-name artists such as Patti LaBelle, Ronnie Milsap, Shelby Lynne,The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Charlie Daniels, Deana Carter, Reba McEntire, Peter Cetera and Rascal Flatts. Two of his hits include “Your Love Amazes Me” recorded by John Berry and “Love A Little Stronger” recorded by Diamond Rio.
The Nashville, Tenn., resident also created his own publishing company, aptly named Jonesin’ For A Hit. It has garnered cuts on a variety of artists ranging from Montgomery Gentry and Trace Adkins to Rascal Flatts, Jake Owen and Randy Houser.
Before the concert, he spoke with The Times about his musical influences and his career.
Question: How did growing up in Memphis influence your songwriting style?
Answer: Very heavily, actually. I grew up during the civil rights era of Memphis, you know, where all the cool music stems from.
I was born in ’55. R&B in the 60s was a big thing with Stax Records, American Records with a lot of cool music coming out back then. Yeah, that heavily influenced musicality in every way. My writing as well. I’m kind of a blues and R&B-influenced writer, I guess you could say, as a result of that.
Q: Does songwriting come naturally for you or do you think you’ve gotten better over time?
A: I don’t think songwriting comes naturally to anybody, to tell you the truth. Some definitely have it more than others. I definitely feel I’ve gotten better the more I’ve done it. It’s just like anything else, like a skill or a muscle. Some people are just better. Some people just have an open conduit to the forces that control that. There’s a lot of craft involved in it as well, which takes, like anything else, practice.
Q: You have collaborated with so many artists. Do you have anyone specific you’d like to work with in the future?
A: I guess Max Martin, maybe? Max Martin or Ryan Tedder. I’m being slightly facetious, because those are some of the most successful pop songwriters of this generation. Ryan Tedder is the lead singer of OneRepublic as well. I’ve written with just about everybody in Nashville.
Q: Do you prefer performing or writing?
A: I like both ... but they are definitely two totally different disciplines.
I really enjoy writing. If you’re onto a good song, whether it’s alone or collaborating, there’s really nothing quite like that — that feeling of having discovered you’re onto something really cool. You’re never going to hear the song the same way as you hear it in your head when you’re writing it.
I’m in the zone and I’m at my happiest when I’m on stage just rippin’ on a guitar solo. It’s an otherworldly feeling.
Q: What other projects are you currently involved in?
A: This is the second gig Ed and I have done together. We did a gig in Columbus a few months ago. We write together a lot, so we like traveling together.
I have a very talented 16-year-old daughter, who is an R&B and pop singer. She can do everything from Etta James to Tori Kelly. She’s out of school for the summer and between 10th and 11th grade. We are trying to write a little bit this summer. We have a show coming up on July 30 on the square here in Nashville.
Working with my daughter is my favorite project, of course. I’m working with another new artist/writer, Robert Counts. Just writing with young artists.
Growing up in Hanford, Calif., Hill gained the inspiration he needed to become one of the top songwriters in the South.
In his youth, Hill worked on his family’s farm but eventually moved to Nashville in 1984. Since then, the singer/songwriter has made music with big stars such as Faith Hill and Reba McEntire.
Ed Hill has won four Nashville Songwriters Association International awards, including “It Matters to Me” by Faith Hill, “Georgia Rain” by Trisha Yearwood, “Find Out Who Your Friends Are” by Tracy Lawrence and “Just Fishin’” by Trace Adkins. He also has a recent No. 1 country song, “Drinkin’ Class” by Lee Brice.
Since the early 1970s, Ed Hill has played piano and keyboard and backed artists such as Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson, Marty Robbins and Willie Nelson. In 1980, he won a Grammy Award for Best Country Instrumental Performance for “Orange Blossom Special/Hoedown.”
In 2012, Hill was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Country Song category for “Just Fishin’,” written with Casey Beathard and Monty Criswell.
And with all his accolades, he travels with his friend Jones to performances such as the one in Gainesville.
He interrupted his busy schedule to talk with The Times about his love of music and songwriting career.
Question: Have you always wanted to be a songwriter?
Answer: I was raised on a farm and I started writing songs in high school. I was always just out on the farm in a small town in California, but I was always kinda messin’ with it a little bit. My folks didn’t know what to do. It wasn’t really in my conscious thought when I was in high school, even though I was playing in bands.
We would play cover tunes and we would always play original songs. I’m sure they were horrible. It kind of developed through that. I was always playing gigs and started writing. I just always did. I’m not really sure why, I guess it was just in me.
Q: How did you get your foot in the door with songwriting?
A: In the early 70s, I got an independent cut on somebody. I thought, “Yeah, that’s cool.”
I got a couple songs in a few B movies, before I moved out (to Nashville) in about 1984. I played with Mickey Gilley. I was his piano player when he was out playing with the whole Urban Cowboy thing. I was writing songs then, trying to get him to do them. I did a couple on that show.
A lot of the times I would open the show, I would do an original once in a while. I’ve been doing it a long time. I did a few demos and I finally showed them to a publisher by the name of Karen Conrad, and she liked some of them, so we started working together.
Q: What inspires you to write?
A: Well, that’s pretty widespread. I was raised on the radio. I wasn’t raised on Hank Williams Sr. I heard Johnny Cash, but it was mostly The Beatles, things like that. It was just what was going on in the 60s. I also liked R&B.
I can remember the first time I heard “A Boy Named Sue.” It was the first song that really drew me in to country music.
Q: What do you believe to be your greatest accomplishment as a songwriter?
A: Well, I was the BMI Songwriter of the Year in 2006.
They have this thing at the Nashville Songwriters Association International. The songwriters vote on the song they wish they would have written, and I’ve won four of those. That’s a good feeling, ’cause your peers vote on it.
My greatest accomplishment has been being able to support my family and raise a family doing this. Really, that’s pretty good in my book.
Q: Have you ever performed in Georgia?
A: Yeah, Chuck and I were down in Columbus maybe a month and a half ago. We played there and the guy there liked us. So I think that’s how we got the gig. I said “I’ll do it.”