Dedicated to his Craft
to play Joeygs in Madison
still draws on his rural roots
(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 JoeyGs Restaurant and Nightclub in downtown Madison, Ind. He
will be appearing at 9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17, and admission is free.
with his band in 1978.
Playing to a smaller venue isnt 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 Wynettes Golden
When Ringenberg left for college at Southern Illinois University in
1978, he immediately dove into the music scene. He started his own band,
Shakespeares 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 didnt 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 Emersons label Reckless Country Soul, followed
by Fervor in 1983. They were on a roll and not ready to
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.
Ringenbergs most recent release is Best Tracks and Side
Tracks. It is a mix of previously recorded songs, renditions and
even the record debut of Shakespeares 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 hes 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 its 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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