Dedicated to his Craft

Versatile singer Ringenberg
to play Joeyg’s in Madison

He still draws on his rural roots

By Nichole Osinski
Contributing Writer

(February 2012) – Say the name Jason Ringenberg to a group of country music fans and someone is bound to perk up. Fans may know him for his legendary rock band Jason and the Scorchers, while others buy his “Farmer Jason” CDs for their children.
But no matter where his fame lies with people, it is undeniable that this musician loves what he does and and has fun while doing it. A father, as well an Emmy winner, Ringenberg has sung with the best in Nashville, Tenn., and worked hard to get there.
Now Ringenberg is taking time off from the big leagues to sing and play at JoeyG’s Restaurant and Nightclub in downtown Madison, Ind. He will be appearing at 9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17, and admission is free.

Jason Ringenberg

Photo provided

Jason Ringenberg
began performing
with his band in 1978.

Playing to a smaller venue isn’t something Ringenberg is unfamiliar with. He grew up on an Illinois hog farm where he would spend his spare time playing his harmonica or guitar and sing. His influence came from hearing George Jones and Tammy Wynette’s “Golden Ring.”
When Ringenberg left for college at Southern Illinois University in 1978, he immediately dove into the music scene. He started his own band, Shakespeare’s Riot, and for two years they were on the SUI club and frat circuit.
The band eventually broke up, and Ringenberg moved on to a new rockabilly band, the Catalinas. Then on July 4, 1981, Ringenberg left in his van with what musical equipment he owned and moved to Nashville. This was another step toward his future career.
Ringenberg plunged into the highly competitive music scene outfitted in his signature fringed shirt and cowboy hat.
Ringenberg didn’t stay solo for long and was soon leading his band the Scorchers onstage. At the time the band consisted of Jack Emerson on bass. When Emerson later quit to become the manager, he was replaced by Jeff Johnson, who brought along drummer Perry Baggs, lead guitarist Warner Hodges and a new musical edge.
They were now Jason and the Nashville Scorchers, and they did everything from originals to country classics. In 1982, their first label was featured on Jack Emerson’s label “Reckless Country Soul,” followed by “Fervor” in 1983. They were on a roll and not ready to stop.
Another breakthrough point was when they were signed by EMI. Their popularity began to grow and when they played the Marquee Club in London a reviewer wrote that it was “one of the top five shows London had ever seen.”
The next few years consisted of hit releases such as “White Lies” and “Still Standing.” However, due to sales the Scorchers were dropped from EMI as well as the departure of drummer Johnson. Three years later the band released “Thunder and Fire” on A&M. Unfortunately, A&M was sold the same day the record was released resulting in promotion being null. Gradually the band broke apart and Ringenberg was going at it solo once again.
A new beginning was on its way and it came in the form of Liberty Records. Ringenberg was now part of Music Row and singing professionally written songs such as “One Foot in the Honky Tonk.”
1993 saw another turn of events when Johnson brought the band back together. They signed with Mammoth and toured until 1998 when they decided to call it quits, for good.
The next few years Ringenberg continued touring as a solo act and started his own label, Courageous Chicken.
Ringenberg’s most recent release is “Best Tracks and Side Tracks.” It is a mix of previously recorded songs, renditions and even the record debut of Shakespeare’s Riot.
Looking back at 30 years of musical history, Ringenberg can claim a full and busy life. He made it to the Country Music Hall of Fame, formed bands, started a label and throughout it all continued to persevere through rough patches. Ringenberg is still known for wearing his traditional cowboy hat and fringed shirt; overalls when he’s Farmer Jason.
He has been known to perform anywhere from a preschool to a small town church. He can be seen setting up his equipment, no stage hands, and then signing autographs at the end.
While many artists might scoff at playing for a group of kids or an out of the way town, Ringenberg continues to be booked in an assortment of venues. Maybe this kind of dedication comes from his days as a child on a farm in Illinois. Maybe it’s due to the ups and downs of being in a competitive musical scene. But whatever has given him the drive to continue performing one thing is certain – the man loves what he does.

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