Storytelling is something of a Texan tradition, and singer songwriter Jarrod Dickenson can spin a yarn with the best of them. His second album of songs about love, life and the human condition is just about to drop. With fans including Cerys Matthews and Janice Long, Jarrod may have moved to Te Big Apple but his hat and heart still lies firmly in his home state. Expect a night of soulful singing and positive vibes at the Arts Centre when he plays there this month. I spoke to him about his job in a hat shop, who his favourite songwriter is and recording his new album in Eastbourne.


hat first started you on the path to learning the guitar, writing songs and singing?

I got a relatively late start with music. I didn’t pick up a guitar until I was 18 years old, but music was always around. As a kid, I was constantly sifting through my dad’s record collection, listening to the Beatles, the Stones, Clapton and Paul Simon. At 18 I decided to try to learn to play the guitar, not with any career aspirations, but just for personal enjoyment. Guitar and music in general just took over almost immediately. It wasn’t long before I was attempting to write my own songs, which I thankfully can’t remember now though I’m certain they were dreadful. From then on I’ve been slowly making my way in this strange and beautiful world of making music.

Did you grow up in a musical household? Both of my parents played the piano as kids, and my dad played drums in high school, but they’d both long since given it up by the time I came along. While neither played any instruments when I was growing up, music was always there. You’re from Texas originally but now live in New York. Tat must have been quite a change for you – to what extent does your environment affect your songwriting? I sort of imagine you coming into town like Midnight Cowboy! New York and Texas are certainly different worlds, but I’d been coming to New York for years on tours and just for my own enjoyment. I moved to the city, because I liked the energy and electricity that can only be found here. As for Midnight Cowboy...sorry to burst the bubble, but it was nothing quite


“It’s impossible not to put at least a bit of yourself in a song.”

as cinematic as that! I showed up, crashed on a friend’s couch while searching for an apartment, signed a lease for an extortionate amount of money to live in a shoebox, and that was that. Your new album is due out this month, Ready Te Horses – I understand it was recorded in East Sussex. How did you find working and recording in the UK, particularly as it offers a very American sound? Yes, we recorded the new album in Eastbourne. I had just been on the road for a solid month supporting Te Waterboys all across the UK. Te day after the tour ended in London we headed down to Eastbourne to a studio that’s

owned by a friend of David Ford. We took my touring band, which was essentially just a group of very close friends, who also happen to be extremely talented players, put us all in a room together, and played the songs live while a tape machine ran. It was a very old-school, organic way of making an album. Tis was not a computer or ProTools record. It was recorded live onto 2” tape, and mixed to 1/4” tape. Te new album seems rockier and bouncier and less pensive than your previous work, with more soul and blues influences, and loads of great warm organ. It feels like a very confident body of work, and powerful. What initiated this change?

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