Jackson Taylor is trading Las Vegas for Wichita. After performing at The Cotillion on Friday, the hard-traveling honky-tonk troubadour plans to call the city home, at least temporarily.
"I think it will be a better fit for us," Taylor said. "(Last Vegas) never stops. If you’re a person without a governor, it’s hard to be in a place that never stops."
Taylor, 27, admits to bearing more than a little resemblance to characters in some his songs with titles like "Cocaine," "Whiskey and Women," "Mas Mas Tequila" and "Jim Beam."
Besides offering fewer temptations, Wichita has a couple of other attractions for Taylor. It’s closer to many of the cities he plays on a regular basis, and he’s made some friends here while playing venues such as Denims & Diamonds and the defunct Sam’s Club.
"It’s always been one of our better places," he said. "I don’t know why that is."
Taylor was born in Moody, Texas, a small town outside Austin, and moved frequently with his migrant worker parents before finally settling in Washington state. He got his love of music from his father, who took him to shows by the likes of Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson.
It was those "honky tonk" artists, along with rock and roll, that shaped his sound.
"We’re not really a country band," he said. "We’re a honky-tonk band. People always act confused. We’re more old-school Hank Jr. mixed with Merle Haggard and the Ramones."
Jackson has pursued his music career in Texas, Nashville, New York and Los Angeles. He moved to Vegas after a divorce – "probably not the best idea," he said – and used the opportunity to play frequently in California and the Southwest.
Taylor’s band, The Sinners, has consisted of Taylor, a guitar player and drummer since two other members decided to stay in Texas. He’ll have his old pedal steel player back for the Cotillion show and says he’s looking for a fiddle player to fill out the band. When not playing elsewhere, Taylor said he’ll look for venues to play a few acoustic shows in the Wichita area.
Taylor is releasing a new single, "Rain," at the Cotillion show. The CD costs $5 and contains three versions – the radio version, an acoustic version and a karaoke version. Taylor has evolved his own strategy for marketing his music.
"We put out records but we’re a small cult band. We don’t have records in stores all over the world," he said. "Records are going the way of dinosaurs. Most of our stuff is done through iTunes. We try to put out a song every three months and make it available through downloads. That way, there’s always something new coming out."
Taylor said the schedule fits his way of writing as well.
"Most people I know write a lot more songs," he said. "I usually write about eight songs a year. I don’t ever sit down and write songs. They either come to me or they don’t."
Taylor said he’s not concerned about whether his approach ever makes him a star.
"We have absolutely no interest in pop country, no interest in Nashville," he said. "People think I hate Nashville and that’s not it. It’s a really cool town. But the music business has become such a manufacturing machine that things are just stamped out. It’s hokey. It’s cheesy. Those are the only words I can use for it."
Actually, he has a few more.
"If Jason Aldean is country, that’s not what we do," he said. "I’m not bashing it. That’s just not what we do."
Taylor said he’s already achieved what he set out to do. "There have been so many crazy surreal moments that I wouldn’t even know where to begin. Like getting asked to play Billie Joe Shaver’s birthday party in Austin. I was able to fly my dad out for it. Me and my dad are really close. Robert Duvall was there."
He’s also done shows with UB40, The Black Crowes, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Willie Nelson and others.
"I don’t care too much about being famous,” he said. “I want to go on tour, make music and make a living. I’ve been real fortunate."