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Jeremiah Jackson: Trying Hard To Be The Shepherd

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By Johnny Griffith

Jeremiah Jackson, the name sounds like a character from a Tarantino movie. Perhaps it could have been a “Jules” type character, full of great wrath and furious anger, or perhaps it could have been a Marcelus Wallace type character, smooth and controlled but dangerous nonetheless. Once you hear Jeremiah Jackson on stage, however, you realize that this is Vincent Vega at Jackrabbit Slim’s sort of cool. Laid back and digging a five dollar milkshake while winning the dance competition. The catch, though, is Jeremiah Jackson isn’t a “who” per se, but rather an idea of a musical collective with a main character and some supporting actors along the way. Jeremiah Jackson is the brainchild of Patrick Saikin, mild mannered history professor by day, soulful blues rocker by night.

An amalgamation of several different influences and styles, a JJ show can run the gamut from groovy acoustic jams to full blown electric ladyland and everywhere in between. Always his biggest critic and constantly looking to improve the craft, Patrick Saikin doesn’t like to dwell on successes and failures but rather the journey. I managed to catch up with Patrick recently and get some more insight to this Jeremiah Jackson cat:

Johnny: Let’s start off with a little bit about the man behind Jeremiah Jackson and your background.

Patrick: I’m from Longview, originally. I played bass as a teenager at my high school, Trinity School of Texas. Twice a week we had a chapel service, I played bass and sang worship songs. Jump forward a year later and I was in a thrash punk band called The Snapnecks. This sudden change from worship to punk probably influences the way I write today. I moved to Tyler to attend UT Tyler and studied there until I earned my Masters in History.

Johnny: Where was the original exposure to music, and what spurred that initial interest?

Patrick: I’ve been interested in music for as long as I can remember. My immediate family is most likely to blame for my keen interest in ALL things music. My mother and I would sing along to the oldies station on the way to school each morning. I’m pretty sure the first song I ever learned to sing was Hound Dog. My dad on the other hand, raised me on a trifecta of Led Zeppelin, Santana, and Jethro Tull. I didn’t discover people like David Bowie until I was older. I remember visiting my oldest brother at college, and he had Bowie’s last concert as Ziggy Stardust playing on his TV. He expressed true freedom. Being true to yourself.

Johnny: So, where did the name Jeremiah Jackson come from?

Patrick: I had a friend in high school named Jeremy Jackson. He said it was short for Jeremiah. I thought it was the coolest name in the world. I always wanted to be cool. I was bullied a lot in school, and subconsciously I guess I thought it was a way out. I’m not sure; it’s just a name that really stuck.

Johnny: I’m confused, is Jeremiah Jackson a solo project or a full band because I’ve seen evidence of both along the way?

Patrick: In essence, this is more or less a solo project. I’ve rotated a few members through the years. At this point my lineup consists of a bass player and drummer for my full band shows. I’ve played with several drummers across Texas including Josh Stewart, Chewie Taylor, Michael Graham, Charlie DeBolt, Jeremy Grisham, and Mikey Uptmor. I’ve only had two bass players: Chris Austin and Cory Zimmerman. My most current members are Mikey and Cory. Both have great chemistry as a rhythm section.

Johnny: Okay so when was Jeremiah Jackson “born?”

Patrick: I guess it was “born” when I started college at UT Tyler. I got together with my friend Doug and started playing the songs we wrote individually. We even played a couple shows with a full band but never got really serious about anything. I went off and spent some years in The Problem Preachers and Channel 8. After that, I decided to bring JJ back.

Johnny: I’ve listened to some of your tracks and, depending on the song, it seems like your music has threads of everything from David Bowie, to Zeppelin, to Ministry, and even Robert Johnson and ZZ Top. How do you describe the music, and what are your influences when it comes to writing?

Patrick: The foundation of my influence comes from all those you listed. However, the framework, plumbing, electrical work, etc… comes from a wide range of places. I listen to Queens of the Stone Age, Iggy Pop, Bad Brains, Dolly Parton, Fugazi, The Strokes, Loretta Lynn, and that’s just the mix for a single day. What gets me started doesn’t necessarily have to be musical either. A song usually starts with an emotion, either simple or complex.


Johnny: How has the response been to JJ been so far?

Patrick: People see me get on stage and think I’m the sound guy or a roadie. Then they see me put on the guitar and probably think, “Oh geez, what is this?” I think one of the main reasons people respond positively to my music is because they’re coming into it with such low expectations. I don’t like to judge myself because I know I can always be better than I was yesterday.

Johnny: How many shows are you currently doing a month on average?

Patrick: I used to play up to eight shows a month with Channel 8, but I’ve cut down a lot since then. My plans for this fall and into next year are 2-4 shows a month.

Johnny: You recently released an album. How has the response been to the new release, and what did you learn about yourself and the band through that process?

Patrick: The biggest thing I learned through the process was all the work and months of planning that goes into a release and supporting tour. Despite all the effort it took, I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.

Johnny: What has been your coolest memory with JJ to this point?

Patrick: Coming back to Tyler to play my EP release show at El Guapo Records. I was not expecting such a large turnout. If anything, it reassured me that people were actually listening.

Johnny: Besides your own stuff, what are you listening to currently that excites you?

Patrick: Something that I’ve been listening to over and over again is the Post Pop Depression album by Iggy Pop. He got together with Josh Homme of QOTSA and put out one of the most gorgeous and solid sounding rock albums of the last decade. Iggy’s voice has aged like a fine wine, reaching rumbling lows while still having this hauntingly delicate nature that gives me shivers. It’s one of the most perfectly produced albums I’ve heard in a long time. One day, I hope to create something as poignant.

Johnny: What is on the radar for Jeremiah Jackson through the rest of 2017 and into next year?

Patrick: I’m currently working on a wrestling themed music video with videographer Josiah Sage and The League of Lions. I’m hoping to have that released by the end of the year, maybe with a viewing party. Too early to tell at this point. I’m also looking into recording another EP soon. I’ve been spending the past two months writing, hopefully something comes of it.

Johnny: Final question; if you got to share the stage with one non JJ musician, past or present, for one song, who is the musician, and what song would you play?

Patrick: Likely David Bowie. To play the guitar on Moonage Daydream in his band is a dream.

Check out Jeremiah Jackson on the web for news and upcoming shows:




Stefan Cotter: A Little Out Of The Ordinary


By Johnny Griffith

It’s the weekend. You want to get out of your home and enjoy some time out. Maybe some dinner and afterwards, a bit of live music at one of the venues around town but you want something a little different than the usual. Not that the usual isn’t good, but you’re just marching to the beat of a different drum today and want a soundtrack to accompany your mood. If that is the case, then you need to find where Stefan Cotter is playing and make your way to one of his shows.

Originally a product of Morgantown, West Virginia, the unique singer/songwriter eventually found his way to East Texas with his wife about 8 years ago and has been doing things a little differently ever since. With the ability to be comfortable playing multiple and disparate genres, Cotter has contributed to many local groups and continues to entertain audiences all over the region with his eclectic brand of musicianship that is definitely not the ordinary.

We tracked Stefan down to get a better perspective on what he’s doing and how he’s doing it:

Johnny: What were your earliest musical memories and what got you interested in being a musician initially?

Stefan: My dad is a trumpet player/teacher, who is finally retiring this year, and I remember him writing out “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and teaching me how to read music on the trumpet. As I recall, that was about 4th grade. He also did a lot of musical theater gigs in the summer when I was little and I used to go sit in the orchestra pit with all of the musicians and I thought it was awesome fun. Those people were great musicians, some of whom I still know to this day. I also got to experience him as my high school band director, which made for a lot of great fun! One memory that sticks out was probably around second grade when he let me march with the high school marching band and play cymbals in the small town we lived in during that time.

Johnny: Your bio on ReverbNation cites your genre as reggae, rockabilly, bluegrass, and rock. That’s an unique mix, especially in this neck of the woods. What are some of your staple cover tunes that really highlight a Stefan Cotter show?

Stefan: I have a lot of “favorite” cover songs but some that have stuck with me are: “Don’t Let Me Down” by the Beatles, “Valerie” by The Zutons, “Could You Be Loved and Waiting in Vain” by Bob Marley, plenty of 50’s country and rock ‘n roll, Chuck Berry’s “Roll over Beethoven,” and lots of old traditional bluegrass as well. Coming from West Virginia, bluegrass and old time music is everywhere.

Johnny: What drew you to those styles of music as your genres of choice?

Stefan: I have no logical explanation, but I assume the excitement. If the music is good, I get excited and the feet start stompin’. You know it when you hear it. That goes for reggae, jazz…anything. Also, I think punk rock/ska was my first love I reckon and there is something very punk rock about Chuck Berry, early Beatles, and early rockabilly. There’s just tons of energy. To add to that, the guy that taught me how to run a real sound system, Paul Vallett, also introduced me to REAL roots reggae, “Rock Steady,” and reggae dub. There is nothing better than testing a full on sound system when there is nobody there and just pounding that low and slow reggae. So that’s where the reggae came in I suppose.

Johnny: Who would you say your biggest musical influences were when you were discovering your “sound?”

Stefan: It’s constantly evolving, and that includes my sound too I guess. Sublime was my favorite band for a long time in Junior High and High School. Reel Big Fish was what band I wanted to be in. I was in Jazz band and the orchestra in high school so that brought in a lot of new music. Then I got into jazz/ classical music in college. I was obviously exposed to a ton of different ideas and I loved it. Again, the reggae sound system, then I found Django Reinhardt, who is my all time favorite guitarist. Bob Wills and John Prine and suddenly I get lost again on an entirely different rabbit hole. I’m also constantly influenced by the bands that I’ve played with, both as a college credit or rock bands that I played around with in Morgantown, most notably The Greens. You should check them out, those guys absolutely rock!

Johnny: Are you primarily a solo act or do you work with a stage band?

Stefan: Actually I try not to play solo any more. Its too much fun to play with other people. We’ve got Big Funky Cloud (BFC) at Stanley’s every Wednesday with Keith (“Grease”) Jones on bass, Nick Pencis on drums, Gary Freeman on keys, and myself.

Then we’ve got a string band that we call The Thing Band for lack of a better name. It is with Gary Freeman (keys), Jake Ham (drums) and myself play as a trio sometimes, and we throw in Jopi Drew (bass) for good measure when we can. Jake Ham and Jopi Drew and I have been playing music for the past 8 years or more and love it.

Johnny: About how many shows a month are you currently playing?

Stefan: I play about four shows a week. I play with BFC every Wednesday at Stanley’s BBQ and every Saturday with my old time/bluegrass band at The Grove and others thrown in there depending on the week.

Johnny: How many originals do you usually try to work into an average set?

Stefan: I try to work in about 10-12 but it just depends on the crowd and the night. Sometimes people are in the mood to dance to songs they know, but every now and then you can slip some originals in and the crowd will respond positively. Those are the nights you know it’ll be a fun time.

Johnny: Are you primarily playing in this area or are you traveling to other markets to play gigs?

Stefan: I’m currently just sticking around town. I’d like to get into Dallas but you’ve got to have some momentum to make money there and right now I’m trying to build that locally to be able to parlay that into some attention in the Dallas scene.

Johnny: How would you describe a typical set for a new listener?

Stefan: I call it “Rastabilly”which is lots of fun party-type reggae and old fashioned rockabilly/country/bluegrass all mixed with gypsy jazz. Be ready to dance!

Johnny: What’s on your radar for the rest of the year and beyond?

Stefan: Right now, just keeping busy playing shows mainly. Playing on my fellow bandmates records and hopefully being able to compile an album myself.

Be sure to check out Stefan Cotter online at or

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Chris Oliver & Company: Making The Connection

By Johnny Griffith

If you’ve been to The Grove in Tyler recently on a Sunday morning for brunch, chances are you’ve been listening to the solid grooves of Chris Oliver & Company whether you realized it or not. Originally born in Tyler, Chris attended both Robert E Lee and John Tyler high schools before finishing at North Garland High School in 1995. Eventually moving back to Tyler, Oliver has been a mainstay in the music scene for several years. An accomplished drummer, Chris now fronts the eponymous Chris Oliver & Company and their mission is to make sure you walk away from a show with a smile on your face and the beat in your heart.

We talked with Chris recently to get more info on what they’ve got going:

Johnny: Who makes up the “& Company” portion of Chris Oliver & Company?

Chris: Chris Oliver & Company is myself, Josh Brock, Calvin Sheffield, and Dr. George Faber. That’s been the lineup since we started.

Johnny: How did you guys all meet?

Chris: I grew up with Calvin pretty much all my life and he’s been one of my best friends. We’ve played in church as well as playing in several other bands around the area including being the rhythm section for Wesley Pruitt. Dr. Faber has pretty much been a mentor to both of us since we were both young and has been playing forever. I met Josh Brock about 4 years ago and he was one of those guys that came in and fit like he’d been with us for years.

Johnny: How did Chris Oliver & Company form?

Chris: About 2 years ago, from another gig I was doing, I was asked to do a Sunday brunch show over at The Grove. I had to put together a band specifically for that and, you know, it’s not easy getting a bunch of musicians to do a mid-morning gig on Sunday after playing out till 2am the night before. That first bunch I put together is still Chris Oliver & Company today.

Johnny: You guys play a superb mix of songs…what genre would you consider your wheelhouse?

Chris: That’s a hard question. Everything has a season and I can look back and see where my musical life has been a steady progression with different styles and preferences each taking their turn. If I had to pick one singular style, I’d have to say blues-ish, but it’s really not that simple.

Johnny: You guys were invited to play down in Austin at the Heart of Texas Blues Challenge last year. How was that experience and what do you feel you learned as a band?

Chris: Yeah, we got the invite down there so Josh, myself, and another bass player went down due to Calvin not being able to make it, and we auditioned. They were impressed enough that we were invited to actually participate. We went back down in August and won the preliminary round which got us to the finals. While we were eventually beat out, it was a great experience. The finals were at Antone’s in Austin which has had some legendary players on stage over the years. That atmosphere, on that stage, you could feel the vibe and the history and we grew a lot from that.

Johnny: How far are you traveling to play shows at this point?

Chris: Right now we’re staying local until our album is finished. We will be getting ready to do a tour after that, which will take us out of state but until then it’s home.

Johnny: About how many shows are you playing a month these days?

Chris: We’re mainly hitting about four shows a month, really focusing on the album, and playing the standing brunch gig at The Grove.

Johnny: How have local crowds reacted to a band that doesn’t really fit the mold for this region?

Chris: Every time we hit the stage, I don’t care where it is, if they call us to play and you see this band and our show, I want you to have an experience. If you’re down, we’re going to hit a point in the set where we’re going to lift you up. But we’re not really there playing for the masses…we’re there for that individual and when you connect with lots of people on an individual level, something special happens.

Johnny: Are you working originals into your set list or is it primarily cover tunes?

Chris: It really depends on how we’re feeling that day. Some people who have heard our originals will ask for them but it really depends on the vibe. Sometimes we will throw some out and see what kind of reaction we get.

Johnny: How would you describe a typical Chris Oliver & Company show?

Chris: We try to get your attention, make you listen, make you have fun…we might take you to church, it just depends, but we always end with thank you and an appreciation for the audience.

Johnny: Any big plans on the horizon for the rest of the year?

Chris: Our main priority right now is finishing the album and putting together a tour to get the word out.

Johnny: So after two years of Chris Oliver & Company, what would you say has been your most memorable gig to this point?

Chris: That Antone’s gig for the Blues Challenge was easily most memorable. Everyone brought their “A” game and was on point. Again, that combined with the history of that place and the players that have graced that stage…it was unforgettable.

Johnny: Who would you say you’re listening to right now that gets you excited?

Chris: I’d say right now I’ve been listening to a lot of Donnie Hathaway vocally, but I’m just a fan of music in general.

You can catch Chris Oliver & Company at You can also catch Chris Oliver & Company most Sundays during brunch at The Grove in Tyler.

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