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Thursday, Sept. 1, 2011 09:13 pm

Jason Sturgeon perseveres with luck

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Jason Sturgeon plays the Old 36 Inn, in Riverton, Sat., Sept. 3, at 9 p.m.

Willie Nelson – and he should know – got quoted saying to be successful in the music business takes perseverance, perseverance, perseverance and luck. Actually that particular Willie-ism fits most of life, if not the complete run of it all, but without a doubt in the finicky world of the music industry it sits well as a valid description of what it takes to make it.

Jason Sturgeon, an up and coming country music performer from Indiana, knows something about perseverance and a bit about luck too. The combination propelled him into his current position as an aspiring artist touring the country, releasing singles and videos, all in an attempt to be a successful country music performer. His dedication to becoming a viable working entertainer and musician is obvious in his daily routine.

“Right now I’m wearing all the hats, playing, doing promo, bookings, sometimes driving the bus, the whole gamut,” says Sturgeon. “It keeps me focused. I don’t mind getting dirty and doing what it takes.”

That gives us the perseverance part. The luck came from a chance meeting with a member of John Mellencamp’s band who offered to produce a Sturgeon recording. Mellencamp, originally from the Bloomington, Ind., area and lives there still, keeps his band around for recordings and rehearsals, and drummer Dane Clark got wind of Sturgeon’s talents. The rest, as they say, is history.

“Dane is a monster musician. He speaks the language of music and plays several instruments,” Sturgeon explains. “We hit it off the first time we met. Like peas in a pod.”

Clark aided in producing arrangements and co-writing songs, shaping the music Sturgeon “heard in my head” and bringing the tunes to fruition. Clark and Sturgeon are currently writing songs for the next album and working with a Nashville producer of super stars like Gary Allan and Trace Adkins. But for now Sturgeon stays busy doing big live shows like the Carlisle Truck Nationals, a CMA Closeup on the highly touted country music video program and gigs like the one coming up this weekend in Riverton in a small town bar venue.

“We been running hard, being gone four, five, six days a week, but traveling is a must,” he explains. “Radio helps and the new video is out on CMT, but getting out and seeing people, winning fans is the biggest part of it.”

Sturgeon has no problem capturing a crowd, especially those in tune with his beliefs and lifestyle. He grew up in rural Indiana working with horses and dealing with issues familiar to those living in the heartland. His music-playing uncle got him picking the guitar and listening to Jimi Hendrix and the Band along with the classic country already in place in the young musician’s mind.

 “My first cassette was Lee Greenwood and I was pretty well on the country path when Uncle Neal broadened me early with the classic rock,” says Sturgeon. “That music was real and true. People liked music for music, not for the image. I like a lot of modern hard rock too.”

From early on, young Jason learned to “eat, breathe and sleep” music and worked with area bands that did well regionally, but never quite made the leap to the next level. His parents encouraged him to finish college and he did. After working for a time he hopped back into the music business (perseverance again) and got his bit of luck with the Mellencamp connection. But it’s his songs that really drive and define him, like the ones on “That’s Me,” his most recent recording.

“If anybody wants to know me, just listen to that record,” says Sturgeon. “I don’t sway from what I believe in, I just don’t advertise it. I put it in my songs.”

Contact Tom Irwin at tirwin@illinoistimes.com.

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