By Johnny Griffith
If there was a trophy given out for “Most Irons in The Fire,” it would have Jenn Ford’s name all over it. The native East Texan wears many hats; mother, veteran, vocalist, guitarist, awards ceremony host, and now…front woman for Jenn Ford & The Wide Eyed Devils. The last time we talked with Jenn, she was focusing on songwriting, working on an album, and the possibility of a permanent backing band was on the horizon. Now, a year later, she’s got that band and is as busy as ever. Somehow we got her to stop long enough to see what’s going on:
Johnny: I described you, in our last interview, as “one of the hardest working women in the East Texas music scene” simply based on the amount of projects you’d been involved with since moving back. Have you slowed down any?
Jenn: Nope. Lol. Not at all. I am busier than ever. I had 17 shows in December and I’m playing several festivals this season. I’m co-hosting the Texas Country Music Awards for the third time in a row, and this year it’s at Billy Bob’s in Ft Worth. We played at Rustic Tap in Austin during SXSW, and I just got signed to a new label out of Nashville, B and G Records.
Johnny: In the time since our that interview, you’ve started a new music project, “Jenn Ford And The Wide Eyed Devils”. Obviously we know who Jenn Ford is but tell us, who are these “Wide Eyed Devils”?
Jenn: It’s basically all the best musicians I could ask for as a band. Chris Dean has been playing with me for a year, even before I gave the band a name. We got Warren Worsham on bass last July, and David Sweat on drums in November. We just added Danny Davis on keys, and I am stoked. Chris laughs at me because I’ve been saying it for a year or more that I wanted someone to play the organ/piano. Danny just hit me up on Facebook out of the blue, asking if I would be interested in adding a keys player, it was like winning the lottery. We rotate out rhythm guitar players for now, because a lot of them play in more than one band. Chris Rasco has played with us, Matt Jackson has played guitar and drums with us. Zach Terry played for almost a year, and Mark Shepherd Hill sits in whenever he wants. I’m lucky to have a lot of friends who just happen to be musicians and dig what we are doing. Nick Brumley played at my wedding 2 years ago, and then he was on stage with us Memorial Day weekend for a festival.
Johnny: You’ve been involved in several different projects over the past few years, but had been focusing on your album and mostly acoustic shows the last couple. What convinced you the time had come for a full band?
Jenn: When the album was finished, I definitely needed a band. I had written the songs for a big sound. I just wasn’t sure how that would translate until Chad Mauldin pulled it all together last spring in his new studio. I made a conscious decision to make a country record, only because I was signed under Texas Country Records. Chad told me I still had alot of rock n roll in my sound, but if you listen to the radio, Texas music has evolved in recent years. Everything is influenced by everything these days. I’m country because I’m from the country. I live next to a pasture. I grew up in the woods. I drank out of the hose and played Dixie League Softball. I like fried chicken and back roads. I have a thick East Texas accent when I’m not paying attention, and I scream louder at high school football games than any other mom.
Johnny: When and where was your first show with the new band?
Jenn: Probably at Clicks Live in Tyler last fall. I named the band because I felt like I can’t have this sound without them. It feels like a club, like a family, and they are all very good at following each other. I’ve sung so many styles, with a lot of great musicians, but this recent sound had been kind of stirring in me for years, probably decades. Every show I see us getting more and more in sync. Sometimes I forget there’s even an audience because we are hitting it right on the money, and I just smile.
Johnny: What is your favorite memory so far with the Devils?
Jenn: I would say when we played in Austin at the Rustic Tap. We kind of lucked out with that show. No one knew who we were except my friends from TCMA and a few East Texas folks. We practiced hard on that set for 3 weeks and went down there and hit a home run. Lots of head nods. Lots of handshakes from people way more famous than me.
Johnny: So you’ve been known to tackle just about any genre that comes your way. What style would you say Jenn Ford And The Wide Eyed Devils focuses on?
Jenn: I think we are focusing on Southern sounds, so that could mean a lot of things. We like to keep stirring the pot. We like Texas music. We like soulful, bluesy, moving riffs. So yeah, that’s what we are focusing on. Music that gets people moving.
Johnny: You were almost done with a full EP the last time we sat down. What’s the latest on that?
Jenn: Well, like I said, new label, so it’s gonna be rereleased nationally, and very very soon. Like this month.
Johnny: What is coming up the back half of 2019 that has you excited?
Jenn: Well my full band is playing at the Vette City Motorcycle Fest in Bowling Green, Kentucky in September, the same day as Colt Ford. That’s pretty exciting. Also there’s talk of some more music videos being filmed, and studio time. We’ve started writing more tunes.
Johnny: What can people expect at their first Jenn Ford And The Wide Eyed Devils show?
Jenn: Dynamic, high energy, moving music. We want you to be entertained. We wanna surprise you. We want you to say, “Wow, they just pulled that off. And it was good.”
Johnny: I hear you’ve got a birthday coming up. Any specific birthday wishes?
Jenn: I want women to feel empowered by the music we perform. I want little girls to look at me and see strength. I want people to feel like they can overcome anything. Music is my medicine. It most definitely helped me overcome some hard times, and gave me a way to express myself. I hope I can encourage others to do the same.