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The Willies

Member sinceMarch 25, 2014
MembersJen Jones, Dave Willie, Devin Pena, Jerimiah Cline, Ben Clark
InfluencesPokey La Farge, Asylum Street Spankers, Squirrel Nut Zippers
Artist Biography:
The Willies are a Nashville based Roots band conjuring the spirit of that time before trad jazz & dirty fingernail blues were the background music for baristas and doggy bakeries. But as veterans of the American underground, the Willies aren’t interested in caricaturing the rough and tumble legacy of 20’s jazz & blues... they embody that energy. And these genres are only starting points... vintage bottles to contain several lifetimes of recent experience in the jazz, blues, rockabilly and punk underworld.

Singer Jen Jones commandeered a road unworthy van and spent years shuffling musicians and authentic jazz from NYC to California. Dave Willie and Devin Pena broke ground and broke bones in the embryonic hardcore punk scene. Carco Clave spent decades eating his Thanksgiving dinners out of paper bags while backing Asleep at the Wheel, Little Jimmy Dickens and Chuck Meade. Wunderkind Jeremiah Cline cut his teeth in the subterranean world of urban hillbilly music. And Ben Clark comes to the party as a trained jazzbo with a refined & brutal trumpet attack.

Classically trained pianist, and teenage runaway, Jen found that the years of study ( piano at 5, & jazz at Loyola, New Orleans & Berklee) did only a little to tame her wild side. Although she started as a jazz singer, in New Orleans, she wound up fronting Femme Fatales, a beastie-girls-with-instruments band, who opened for Gwar and Primas, as well as starting her own label “Stupid Records’, in SF. Moving to NYC Jen squeeked out a living doing piano bar, collecting royalties from a major label songwriting credit, and finally riding the neo-swing revival with her popular band The Camaros. That band toured constantly, sharing the stage with Big Bad Voo Doo Daddy, enjoying great sales on their 4 CD releases, and eventually wound up in Nashville, where they ‘went country’, and played the same venues as BR549. With Dave she’s found her perfect inspiration, and is thrilled to be back to playing New Orleans style jazz, in a band that creates the kind raucous energy not usually associated with jazz. Always valued for her great songwriting now it’s as much about that stride piano as it is about her distinctive voice.

Dave Willie began his musical wanderings as a teenager in the early 80’s American hardcore punk scene. The baby faced ‘punk provocateur‘  (Scene..) fronted the Nashville-based thrash band the Committee for Public Safety. For his efforts Dave received diminished hearing, multiple broken bones and an eventual photo & paragraph in the book ‘American Hardcore : A Tribal History’. For most of the 1980’s Willie was singing for Jet Black Factory.. a band described by the Oxford American as “Southern neo-goth’. The band toured along the east coast extensively, and their records were in heavy rotation on college radio across the country. In the early 90’s Willie was a quick convert to the burgeoning neo-swing scene... forming the aggro-lounge band 9 Parts Devil in 1993.

With the Willies punk meets ragtime. Or trad jazz is driven by a drugged ska beat. Oi gang vocals accompany the blues or a stride piano compliments an elaborate revenge fantasy. Banjos chunk. A trumpet blares. The vocals pour out sultry, or comic, or crooning or just plain pissed off while the rhythm section thumps with the pounding repetition of a bloated corpse slapping against the hull of a riverboat.

The Willies are having a great time. You can see it in their live shows. Their raucous stage banter. The playful reworking of traditional standards. But most of all this excitement comes through in their original compositions. This is their first love. This is the place where Willies get to catalog their diverse influence... to construct new wholes from eagerly looking forward but always open to the influence of the ghosts and demons from a wildly entertaining past

More by The Willies:

Ballbusting Valentine
Green Eyed Devil
Let's Get Drunk and Start a Fire
Living Hell
Too Lazy to Love
Too Lazy to Love
You Rascal You

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