July 26, 2022

A Sit Down With US Navy Veteran Derek Jones

A Sit Down With US Navy Veteran Derek Jones
US Navy veteran Derek Jones sat down with us before taking the stage opening for Gary Allen this past weekend in Appleton, Wisconsin.
My name is Brooke Huebner. I am a writer for Gainin' Fast On Memphis. To start I know you served in our U.S. Military. First and foremost, thank you for your four years of service.
Thank you, you're welcome.
How did you go from the military to country music?
Growing up, my dad played drums and my mom played a little bit of guitar, and my grandma played piano and organ in the church so I've always kind of grown up around music. I could not stand country music in high school. Hated it. I had a bumper sticker on my car that said, "discourage inbreeding, ban country music." I could not stand country music. As I grew up my dad taught me how to play the drums. All I've ever wanted in life was to be either a professional football player which you can see my size that wasn't going to happen or I wanted to be a rockstar. Fast forward I leave for the military, I get out of the military, and I've never played the guitar. I never picked up a guitar until I was probably 23 or 24. Just fresh out of the military I started college. A couple of my buddies would come over to my house and bring their guitars and I just remember falling in love with, man they're just making music right here in front of me and if I could ever learn how to play guitar, I don't think I'd ever put it down. So, I went out and bought a guitar and taught myself how to play, I've always kind of written. I used to write poems a lot so that kind of came naturally. I just started writing and putting music behind poems. Here I am, doing it.
That's awesome. Did you use to open up for Billy Ray for four years?
I did. I was on tour with him being his direct support and played acoustic guitar for Billy Ray as well. We did some writing together, and a lot of recording together. He's a great guy so I'll never say a bad thing about Billy Ray, that guy treated me like a brother, and I love him to death. 
When did you decide to step away and do your own thing as an independent artist?
Well, I didn't decide that. God did for me. I had come to a crossroads where I knew I felt stagnant, I didn't feel like I was where I should be after touring with a major act for four years. I had a photoshoot in Vegas while I was with Billy and the photographer brought a skateboard. At that point, that's where I was at my crossroads as far as I needed to do something, but I don't want to leave Billy because it's such a great thing and I love him to death. I was at this photoshoot, we were out in the desert in Vegas, and I jumped on this skateboard, got going downhill a little too fast, caught the wobbles, it threw me off the skateboard and I broke my elbow. I had to get pins and cables put in my elbow, so I missed two or three shows and they decided to let me go from the tour. I always say that was the decision that was made for me that I probably would never have made even though I knew what decision needed to be made. That was God making that decision for me. 
Wow, a blessing in disguise. I remember the first time I met you. You opened up for Jo Dee Messina in Green Bay last year. I didn't know who Derek Jones was, but I wanted that shirt that said "If you don't like it you're free to leave" with an American flag on it. I was standing at your merch table thinking "I want that shirt." You came over and you said, "Hey do you know this guy?" I replied "Nope, but I want that shirt."
That's right you bought the shirt before you heard the song.
I sure did. I got to meet and talk with your family before you took the stage, and they told me "He has a great message." Yes, you did, after your set, I came out and bought another shirt and all three of your CDs. I agree, you have a great message.
Thank you.
We always like to throw out a fun question so if you could do a collaboration with any artist who would it be?
Jamey Johnson. I love the storytelling of his songs; I love that he stands up for what he believes in. He kind of got put on the shelf by Nashville and did it on his own and is still doing it on his own. I think he has morals that he stuck to and didn't necessarily sell out to get where he needed to get as far as music and get on the charts. He kept hammering down. I would love to sit down and write a song with Jamey Johnson. 
I could definitely hear you sing his song "In Color."
I love that song. It's one of my favorite songs.
Jones later took the stage for a six-song intimate acoustic set. The purity and rawness grit in Jones's voice gives him a recognizable rock and roll country sound like no other. The Eric Church like passion behind every chord strum and the realism of the lyrics connected the audience to Jones. "We're all going to all be friends by the end of this." As Jones strummed the last chords closing with "Free To Leave", Jones received a justified standing ovation with thunderous applause from the audience with a clear message of

"We're now friends."