As fontman of Jason & the Scorchers, Jason Ringenberg, along with bands like The Blasters, Lone Justice and Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ helped pioneer that potent blend of punk rock and country. As a result, they laid the foundation for everyone from Old 97s and Nashville Pussy to Mike Ness’ entire solo career.
It’s been decades since Jason & the Scorchers last put out a record, but Ringenberg has managed to carry his career into two seemingly divergent, but just as interesting paths over the years. He’s put out four albums as Farmer Jason – a gleeful eclectic children’s musician – and put out half a dozen solo efforts in similar vein to the music he played fronting The Scorchers. His latest solo album, the sublimely titled Rhinestoned is easily one of his best.
His distinctive vocals – a wild sound that is created by taking a guy from Southern Illinois and having him live in Nashville for decades – are front and center, outshined only by his stellar lyrics, that can straddle the line between witty (“Nashville Without Rhinestones”) to poignant (“The Freedom Rides Weren’t Free”). The mix of topics here are all over the place making for a scattered, idiosyncratic and deeply fun listen. He does an addictively catchy, rocked up version of “Christ The Lord Is Risen” that had the song stuck in my Atheist head for days.
Surprisingly, the album was one Ringenberg didn’t set out to make this soon, but the global pandemic shifted everyone’s plans and gave the singer plenty of time at home, with nothing to do but write music.
“I was faced with the same decisions everyone else in the world faced: how to connect with folks in a disconnected world. I decided to create a new record,” he said. Rhinestoned was birthed in masks and social distancing.”