We caught up with Jarrod Dickenson to learn more about his love for music and what it takes to become an well renowned folk performer.
Can you try to give our readers a bit of a background on yourself, a quick spill about things you are into?
I am a reasonably tall fella from Texas, currently living in Brooklyn. On my better days I write songs and sing them to folks around the world, and as you may have guessed, I do indeed have a beard; one of the ginger variety to be precise.
I grew up in Waco, Texas (yes, THAT Waco). I’ve lived in Austin, Nashville, LA and most recently New York City. In addition to being a songwriter and music lover, I’m a big sports fan, I’m always reading a book of some sort, I love a good single malt, and as the next question will expound upon, I’m something of a hat enthusiast.
We also hear that you work at the JJ Hat Center, tell us more about that…
When I’m not on the road I can generally be found at New York’s oldest hat store, JJ Hat Center. Before moving to the city about five years ago I would always stop in JJ’s when I came through New York to check out their enormous selection of fine hats. It’s one of the world’s last truly great hat stores, and definitely a must-see for anyone visiting, or indeed living in NYC.
Once I moved to the city, and realized after a month or two that music alone wouldn’t cover the extortionate rent, I went in one day to see if they needed any part-time help. They’ve been incredible to me over the years, letting me leave for months on end to tour the world, but always having a place to come back to when I got home. It’s also, as you’d expect, fed my hat addiction in the most wonderful way.
Can you try to take us through your daily routine when it comes to beard care
My daily routine is fairly simple. I shower every morning, dry my hair and beard, generally brush it with a standard hair brush to get it laying in a reasonably acceptable manner, and then go about my day. I am constantly sort of combing it with my hands throughout the day, usually without even realizing it, and not with any real purpose, but more just a strange little habit to which I imagine many of you can relate.
Do you have any specific brands that you prefer?
I honestly don’t really use any “product” so to speak with my facial hair. It’s a fairly natural thing. Since my moustache kind of curls upward at the ends many people assume I use some sort of wax, but again, it’s completely natural.
Do you trim and maintain your beard on your own, or do you only let your barber handle it? Who is your ‘go to’ guy for trimming and maintenance?
I trim my own beard using a standard electric beard trimmer. Since my beard is pretty full and fairly long I don’t use a guard on the trimmer, but rather just snip off any wild or stray hairs while trying my best to keep a steady hand. This can obviously lead to disastrous results if you aren’t careful, but hey, I’m a thrill-seeker!
So tell us more about Jarrod, the performer…
”Jarrod, the performer” is not terribly different. He is still reasonably tall, still Texan, still wears a big hat, and is indeed still bearded. I do feel very much at home on stage. As a songwriter, getting the opportunity to perform my songs to a room filled with people who are eager to listen is the payoff. I love writing songs.
I love recording them, but actually singing them to a live audience is the most enjoyable part of the job for me. Each night is different. Each audience is different. So, even though I may play a lot of the same songs each night, every gig feels like a one-off experience. It’s a pretty incredible feeling when you make a connection with a crowd. I don’t take that for granted, and I feel very blessed to have the opportunity to do it.
If you could describe your style in only 3 words, what would they be?
Chris Hawkins of BBC Radio 6 Music very kindly described my music recently as “Storytelling with Soul”. That’s a much nicer description than I could come up with on my own, so I think I’ll just nick his words!
What inspires you to perform?
I think, for certain kinds of people, of which I am one, performing is almost like an addiction. It becomes something that you simply have to do. It’s in you. It’s a part of you, and without it you don’t feel whole.
Now, as for what inspires me to write…everything! I love stories. I love creating characters and situations that normal, everyday people can relate to. I find inspiration in other music, of course, but also in books and films, in people I see on the train or walking down the street. Inspiration can come from almost anything, and when it does it’s an exciting thing.
Any funny stories from the road?
Well, many stories from the road aren’t exactly suitable for print in a magazine…shove a group of guys into a van, and there’s no telling what madness will ensue! That said, the road is a strange, and often hilarious beast. For instance, on a tour a few years ago with my friend David Ford there was a particular song in the set each night where I would sing a harmony and shake a couple of wooden maracas quite forcefully.
The night of the Birmingham gig we were playing at Hare & Hounds in Kings Heath, and when the part of the song came where I shook the maracas, the round bowl of one of the maracas broke off from the handle, and went flying into the crowd, leaving me holding just a little stick in my hand while the rest of the shaker promptly struck a fan square in the head!
If you could perform in only one more place worldwide, where would this be and why?
If I could perform in just one more place in the world I think it would have to be the Beacon Theater in New York. I know it isn’t the biggest room in the world, or even perhaps the most prestigious, but it’s a place I dearly love. I first saw the Allman Brothers there about ten years ago, and the place blew me away. It’s such a stunning old theater, and you can feel a certain energy coming from the walls and seats and stage. It’s a very special place to me, and it’s long been a dream and goal of mine to perform there.
Lastly, we see you are about to release a new album, what can we expect?
Yes, I’ll be releasing my new album, “Ready The Horses“, in early March, which will coincide with a headline tour of the UK.
I recorded the album with a group of friends and musical comrades in East Sussex. We recorded the entire thing straight to 2″ tape…old school! It’s a bit of a departure from my previous work, but I think my existing fans will find some familiar themes and sounds to latch onto, while also getting something new and hopefully exciting. It’s a bit more rockin’, raucous and soulful in places, and tender and intimate in others. It’s an album I’m very proud to have made, and one that I can’t wait to share with the world come March.
The tour will begin at Country2Country Fest in London on the 11th and 12th of March, then we’ll head over to Belfast to kick things off at the Empire Music Hall on the 16th of March before making stops in Glasgow, Newcastle, Norwich, Manchester, London, Partridge Green, Birmingham and Shrewsbury. Come on out!
Check out Jarrod on his social media here –