Kristi Jean and her Ne’er-Do-Wells
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Kristi Jean and her Ne’er-Do-Wells

State College, Pennsylvania, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2019 | SELF

State College, Pennsylvania, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2019
Band Americana Blues




"INTERVIEW: Kristi Jean & Her Ne’er Do Wells Tap Into the Feminist Ghosts of Western Swing"

You don’t need anything fancy to time travel: just listen to Kristi Jean & Her Ne’er Do Wells. In their new song “One More Time,” the band — which lands somewhere between rockabilly and Western swing — details their stories of tour debauchery. But it’s so charming that you’d never associate it with the excesses of the ’80s rock stars that also influence Jean: instead, we get a sense of quaint mishaps that bring to mind the good old days. You couldn’t say outright that you went on a bender on the radio, but maybe you could find a way to wink at your audience. There’s something to be said for framing these misadventures as mishaps, as opposed to proclaiming that you can’t feel your face. And charm? Kristi Jean and her band have tons of it.
Here’s what Jean has to say about the band: We live somewhere in the neighborhood of old-school country, western-swing, and honky-tonk-rockabilly. We tried “Honky-Tonk-A-Billy Swing,” but it wouldn’t fit on the t-shirts! This is a true story about traveling on the road – just about any musician who has loaded equipment in a too-small van, dealt with drunk club owners, stayed in cheap motels or band houses will identify with how we made it (somehow) back home ‘One More Time.'”

In our interview, Jean uncovers some feminist Western swing history, tells us about the fairy paintings she’s received from one of her superfans, and how Pet Benatar and Buck Owens brought her to the Ne’er Do Wells.

Who are some of your musical influences?
I started out listening to the old country music my dad used to play on the AM radio in his truck. I grew up in a small town in Texas, so that old-school country music was everywhere I went. I really liked Patsy Cline, Hank Williams, Buck Owens and just about anyone I saw on “Hee-Haw.” But my older brothers were into rock-and-roll, and I started sneaking into their rooms to listen to that music, too. I ended up listening to Pat Benatar and Heart quite a bit– some of the hard rocking women that blew me away. Only later did I get into some of the old-school blues like Big Maybelle and the western swing like Bob Wills. So, now I think I have influences from across the musical spectrum, and although I’ve been told my voice has a lot of the traditional country twang, I don’t hear it as much. I think of myself as a blues-rocker; which, I know isn’t as true as I’d like it to be – when I hear the album, I hear the old Patsy Cline, Kitty Wells, Dolly Parton influences coming through.

Do you start off with the music or lyrics first? Why?
The truth is, I find sitting down to write a song challenging. Other people’s melodies stick in my head so much, and I have a hard time not slipping into an old familiar melody line. Steve (Branstetter; the Ne’er-Do-Wells guitarist) writes all the lyrics, and usually has a rough idea of chords and progression. He plays the chordal ideas, and gives me the freedom to explore some directions and melodies. Somewhere between his original idea and my fiddling around, we come up with the final version of the song.

Do you play covers at your shows? Why or Why not?
We do play some covers, but they are usually lesser-known, very old covers that we feel didn’t get a good shot back in the day. An example is the song “I’m Having a Party All By Myself” (which was on our first album Country-Billy Collision). The song was written and performed by an artist named Charline Arthur back in 1953. Charline was a genuine rebel: she spoke her mind and was often criticized for getting crazy on stage (but when Jerry Lee Lewis did it, it was a trademark) and for wearing PANTS! When she signed her record deal, she was assigned to work with Chet Atkins as her producer. He wanted her music to have that early “Nashville” sound, and he tried to soften and mellow the tunes. The studio version of “I’m Having a Party” was best described as uninspired. However, there is a live version of the song out there on YouTube where Charline did it her way – and it rocked! Ultimately, because she spoke her mind and didn’t toe the Nashville line, she was forgotten about by the end of the 1950’s. It’s songs and stories like this that make us want to revive some of these great classics that never got a foothold.

Have you ever been given something remarkable by a fan?
We have one great fan who comes to see us at our local shows. He communicates with us on social media frequently and is so supportive and charming. He recently took up painting as a hobby. So, at one show he turns up with this MASSIVE oil painting of a nature scene under his arm. (I don’t know how he managed to drag that along with him, but he did!) The painting had fairies and music notes “hidden” throughout the scene, and he challenged us to find all the fairies and tell him how many we found. It was like “where’s Waldo” for musical fairies. We got a kick out of it and kept sending him our guesses via social media (we were always wrong). Because we seemed to enjoy it so much, he showed up with another painting for Steve (the band’s guitar player) and later on he had another painting for Dave (the band’s steel guitar player). They are huge, colorful paintings – we hardly have that much wall space!

Is there a professional “bucket list” item you would love to check off?
For sure. We’ve played all sorts of places as we’ve traveled around (that’s the theme of the song “One More Time!”) , but we have never left the United States. We get a lot of support from fans in Europe, especially places like Spain. We would love an opportunity to tour in Europe sometime. Even if it’s a short tour, it would be so thrilling for us to experience the scene, meet new people, practice our Spanish and French (of which we mostly know food-related or dirty words). - Adobe and Teardrops


With the lead single off her brand new nine-track 2nd album, Kristi Jean and Her Ne’er-Do-Wells are quite fantastic on the adventurous story all about playing live wherever you can on ‘One More Time‘.

Kristi Jean and Her Ne’er-Do-Wells is a Howe, Texas-born indie Country artist. After bravely venturing towards Rock music for a while, she has since gone back to her homely roots and sounds mightily rejuvenated.

”Kristi Jean grew up riding shotgun in a pickup truck driving the small-town roads of Howe, Texas with the AM radio tuned to traditional country music.” ~ Kristi Jean and Her Ne’er-Do-Wells

Showing us her outstanding vocal ability, this is a terrific track that has you beaming from ear to ear. With all that has happened recently with music tours being cancelled and the world generally closed up – the energy and excitement to hit the open road again – has to surely bring such a warm and fuzzy feeling to your music-loving bones.

‘One More Time‘ from the Howe, Texas-born indie Country artist Kristi Jean and Her Ne’er-Do-Wells, is a self-proclaimed and highly entertaining “honky-tonk-western-swing-southren-rockabilly.” There is much to love here from a singer so honest with stories we can all smile with, through those wild roads, crazy fans, and all-round life-changing stories from a band who have seen it all. Their quest to play live for new fans and have fun no matter what, is a movie-like soundtrack that should inspire many to follow their dreams. Music heals all. - A&R Factory

"Kristi Jean and Her Ne'er-Do-Wells"

Imagine a western-swing jukebox that pays you with trim and vivacious selections, all of which bounce agreeably along happy trails.

Here 'tis. For those who ain't a-feared of fun. - Jukebox Jury

"Kristi Jean and Her Ne'er-Do-Wells: Country Bill Collision"

Album of the Month! - Crossroads Music and Promotion

"Kristi Jean and Her Ne'er-Do-Wells: Country Billy Collision"

Kristi’s vocals will have you wanting you to hear more...the band bebops and you must definitely hear the amazing guitar! - Steel Notes Magazine/Jim Allford


Country-Billy Collision (2019). GAL (Independent) Records

One More Time (2020). GAL (Independent) Records



Energetic and honest original roots-inspired music, with Americana, country and jump blues flavors. The band also performs their own takes on long-forgotten music of the 1950's and 1960's, from the catalogs of Wynonie Harris, Louis Jordan, Big Maybelle and others.  There is something for everyone in the Kristi Jean shows; swingin' guitars, upright bass, and the characteristic and powerful voice of Kristi Jean herself. 

Band Members