The Sammy-winning JD and Rollin’ South hopes for some new club prospects in 2012
When the Syracuse Area Music Awards (Sammys) were handed out Nov. 11, Jay Draper and his band weren’t on hand when they won the People’s Choice Award. Predictably enough, they were out doing what they do most weekends: playing a show of honky-tonk favorites for fans who relish their solidly traditional country sound.
Draper knew his band, JD and Rollin’ South, was one of the frontrunners for the People’s Choice accolade, but he figured the odds were against them in competing against so many talented and popular acts. “We talked about it in rehearsal the night before,” Draper says. “We had a gig that night up in Henderson Harbor. The guys thought the odds of us winning was a lightning bolt happening. We decided to do the show.”
Although he had been monitoring the count as the voting progressed, Draper didn’t expect to make such a strong showing. “How could you not be surprised?” he asks. “You have people like Under the Gun and Loren Barrigar and Dave Hawthorne in this town. You have all these other great performers who have been there and done it, man. They have great followings. What surprised me was that our fans kept voting for us.”
The secret of Rollin’ South’s popularity with fans is no secret at all. “The only way to get it done is by the traveling and the gigging and the playing and the learning and the sweat and the tears,” Draper insists. It sure helps to have an elite and experienced corps sharing the stage with him, as veteran drummer C.R. Stewart recently joined two former Electric Rodeo musicians, lead guitarist Hank Wiesczynski and bassist Rolland Burnet.
“All these guys are top-notch musicians,” Draper raves. “I’ve never had the opportunity in my life to play with a group of musicians of this caliber and this quality.”
The band hopes that the testimonial from Sammys voters and strong listener support for country radio will lead to more gigs around their hometown. “A lot of Syracuse people are calling me every day and want to hear JD and Rollin’ South locally,” Draper says. “I would suggest to them that they pick up the phone and call the venues like they did for voting and ask them to book us. I play all over the state, but in Syracuse very few bars trust country music to draw.”
They’ve already made contact with the principals involved in a new club opening next year when Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar franchise adds a location at Carousel Center, soon to be rechristened as Destiny USA. “Syracuse is going to get a big shot of country music when Toby Keith’s bar opens,” Draper reports. “What I want to see is that it helps everybody.”
Until then, fans who want to experience the People’s Choice winners for themselves should check for listings in the Syracuse New Times club dates section every week or get all the latest on the band’s website, www.jdrollinsouthcountry.com, or their Facebook page.
The Rollin’ South gang says they’ll put all they’ve got into living
up to expectations as four guys who tear it up every show playing
familiar songs, many recorded by some of country’s most famous artists.
“We’re real country,” Draper asserts. “You may hear Johnny Cash, you may
hear a Hank Williams song, a Merle Haggard, but it’s gonna be a rockin’
dance party. It’s gonna be a good time.”