Waits and Company
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Waits and Company

Savannah, GA | Established. Jan 01, 2015 | SELF

Savannah, GA | SELF
Established on Jan, 2015
Band Americana Folk


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Summertime Brews and Tunes with Waits & Co. provides perfect kickoff for summer"

From the time he met the folks from Southbound Brewing Company, local musician Jon Waits was impressed.

“They seemed like good people,” Waits says. “They asked us to play at Maggiepalooza.”

Maggiepalooza was a benefit concert sponsored by Southbound to help one of its employees.

“I realized these were people we wanted to develop a relationship with,” Waits says. “They seem to be good people who are doing good things in the community.”

Waits met with Southbound’s marketing director Carly Wiggins, and the result is Summertime Brews and Tunes with Waits & Co., a summer kickoff party set for June 6.

With special guests Georgia Mountain String Band and Black Water Choir, Waits and Co. will jam while guests enjoy special brews. Beer samples are included with the admission price.

In fact, Waits & Co., Foxy Loxy Print Gallery and Cafe, Rock 106.1, Art Rise Savannah, Wild Wing Cafe and Trapper Jack were all invited to be guest brewers by teaming up with Southbound to create some special brews.

“Their suggestion was each one of the groups to come in and brew their own craft beer, just a small batch, but something everyone could take pride in,” Waits says. “Waits and Co. did one. We asked fans and friends online for suggestions.

“Foxy Loxy brewed up a special brew that’s going to have a little kick. Art Rise Savannah is definitely the big grassroots organization these days.

“They seem to be growing bigger and bigger,” he says. “I’m excited to see what they come up with.”

One of the best things about Savannah is its welcoming atmosphere, Waits says.

“I’m from Atlanta,” he says. “One of the most amazing things to me is the community feel here and how so many different types and groups of people from different backgrounds seem to come together to do creative things.

“I think that is amazing,” Waits says. “It was my idea to get a bunch of people who don’t normally hang out together and focus on the community at large.”

Waits and Co. will do hosting duties in addition to performing.

“We have some good friends coming from Atlanta called the Georgia Mountain String Band, headed by Jason Waller,” Waits says. “They’re much more traditional than we are, an old-time country-folk-bluegrass band.

“Then on top of that, we’re bringing in some friends of ours from here in Savannah who are the Black Water Choir. They’re a young duo, not on the regular circuit.

“I listen to them and I believe in the music they’re doing,” Waits says. “They also have a sort of folky sound with a modern take on it that focuses on the harmony. We’re really happy to get them on board.”

Black Water Choir played at a Trinity Sanctuary Series concert earlier this season, as well as Savannah Stopover.

“Everyone fell in love with their sound,” Waits says. “That’s another one of those things where our crowds and age groups are a little bit different. That’s part of bringing the community together.”

Waits has been playing music pretty much his entire life.

“I’ve been playing since I was 10 and I’m 42 now,” he says. “A good friend started playing at 10 and of course I wanted to jump on board.

“Our sound these days is more of an old-school country with a Rolling Stones rock ‘n’ roll flair to it. I branded the term ‘alt Lowcountry’ for us, a riff on the term ‘alt country.’

“We’re here in the swampland, we might as well use something different,” Waits says. “Savannah and the Lowcountry has its own particular sound.”

Waits has begun writing songs that are more accessible.

“As Waits and Co., we’ve grown and expanded over the last couple of years because it’s imperative for us to play stuff everyone can feel for,” he says. “It’s a little more up tempo, but real.”
Songwriting trumps performing for Waits.

“At the end of the day, it’s really about songwriting,” he says. “I’ve been doing it for so long, I really don’t know how not to.

“It’s my form of expression, how I get a lot of things out. You’ll not find much of our material that is not autobiographical.

“That’s where genuine comes out, while approaching storytelling,” Waits says, “For me, it’s been a personal deal. You’ll hear stories about my life or current station in life.”

Not that Waits is about to give up performing.

“I’m happy to get up and perform,” he says. “I do love to showcase what we do.”

And that’s what will happen at Summertime Brews and Tunes.

“Jeremy Hammons from the Train Wrecks is going to join us on drums,” Waits says. “We’ll do more rocking of a set than sometimes we normally do. We’ll explore something a little more upbeat, up tempo.

“I really want to thank everyone who is getting involved and on board, especially Southbound,” he says. “I think we can all do a lot together, but it takes little inroads and little steps. I’m proud to be part of this event.” - Savannah Morning News

"Review: Thursday Night Opry offers up nostalgia"

There probably couldn’t have been a better way to open Memorial Day weekend than the Trinity Sanctuary Concert Series Thursday Night Opry on May 22.

A coalescing of Americana, country, bluegrass and folk from local bands Paving Gravy, Waits & Co. and Damon and the Sh!tkickers, or as they were referred to on this night, Damon and the Kickers, was featured at Trinity United Methodist Church.

The acoustically sweet sanctuary at Trinity and a lone classic microphone heralded the incredibly talented blend of local musicians.

Opening the show was bluegrass supergroup Paving Gravy. Comprised of members from The Accomplices (Zachary Smith, Colleen Heine), and City Hotel (Cory Chambers), they opened the show with a variety of traditional songs.

Ranging from Texas boogies and square dances to “scary gospel music,” Heine, Smith and Chambers, donning their best Peter, Paul and Mary, worked through some new arrangements of traditional Americana, while working through a variety of different instruments.

The trio opened with Smith on his usual weapon of choice, an upright bass, Heine on acoustic guitar (not the usual choice for The Accomplices’ fiddle player) and Chambers on mandolin. The trio’s two- and three-part harmonies were immaculate and the instrumental skills were expansive.

Trading instruments on occasion, Heine to her fiddle, Chambers to a guitar and Smith to a banjo, they coursed through a Doc Watson piece, several gospel pieces and finished up the set with a tune by way of Glen Campbell, as well as Ernest Tubb’s “Thanks a Lot.”

Paving Gravy set the tone for a mostly older crowd that was sprinkled with some young faces by offering simple arrangements that were absent of huge surprise, but still extremely pleasing.

As is sometimes awkward with sitting concerts, no one is sure what is appropriate behavior. This is live music and clapping is not rude, but being in a church, some might consider a more pedestrian response to the music.

Smith’s first bass solo garnered some applause, because bass solos are awesome, however, that tended to drown out the opening of Heine’s fiddle solo, but she played through and earned her own applause.

Fortunately, and probably thanks to Smith, this seemed to break that awkward “what do we do when we hear something awesome” question that is often burdened on patrons of a more composed and classy concert series.

If Smith broke the ice, John Waits heated the water.

Waits & Co. followed Paving Gravy with their unwavering and solid arrangement of Waits on acoustic guitar and vocals, Markus Kuhlman on dobro, harmonica and vocals, and the wiry Coy Campbell on upright bass and vocals.

Waits, as most fans in Savannah probably know, is a hardened performer with more than 20 years of stage experience echoing throughout his songwriting.

The early country/Americana essence of Waits & Co. is both a reverb of acts like Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash, as well as the unique voice of Waits’ own American desperado disposition.

Jared Hall (Trinity’s musical director and the event’s organizer), and his accordion became one of the company for the group’s song “Lowcountry,” Waits’ saccharine tribute to the Savannah area.

Waits & Co. traversed their original material with ease, but as they came to the end of their set, Waits got a little personal.

Using easy-to-interrupt metaphorical names, Waits described his own journey through Fulton County Jail, and the time he met a particular group of jailbirds that left him with something he would share that night for the first time outside of incarceration.

Leading the crowd, which included his parents seeing him perform for the first time, Waits closed out the set with a hand-clapping, foot-stomping spiritual he wrote called “Jailhouse Jesus.”

Rounding out the lineup was Damon and the Sh!tkickers with their more traditional, straight country, and mostly electrified sound.

With all the jokes through the night (including air quotes used for the band’s abridged name) they delivered on their real name with a gamut of classic country tunes.

Damon Mailand’s vocals were a little drowned with the all the amplification coursing behind him, but a suggestion from an audience member moved him closer to the vintage mic, and the night was saved.

For the grand finale, the other two bands joined the Kickers on stage for the night’s final three songs.

The super-supergroup joined in for Kris Kristofferson’s “Help Me Jesus,” traditional bluegrass gospel tune “Working On A Building” and finally, a rousing edition of “I Saw The Light.”

Several members went through solos, and the whole scene was something out of Martin Scorsese’s “The Last Waltz,” Savannah edition. The camaraderie and respect each of the musicians hold for each other was not only evident, but was a fitting catharsis for the night.

On a personal note, the Opry was a reliving of a childhood spent on the back pew and pulpit of my father’s Pentecostal church. It was strange to hear gospel songs sung for a concert at a Methodist church, and not in a holy-roller service.

As nostalgia often does, the night reminded me of home, while also giving me a strong desire to take to drink. - Do Savannah

"Connect Savannah Best of 2015 - Singer Songwriter Jon Waits"

EVEN if you don't know Jon Waits personally, you've likely encountered his work in some form. Maybe you've flipped through an issue of Connect and spotted his vibrant photography, or seen him dashing around behind the scenes at Trinity UMC's Thursday Night Opry series. Maybe he's handed you a steaming cup of Perc coffee over the counter at Foxy Loxy Print Gallery and Café. Or, perhaps you've seen him onstage as Waits & Co., flanked by Markus Kuhlmann and John Pizzichemi.

Waits has crafted a particular brand of what he’s coined “original Southern songwriting”—honest, personal tales of struggle and celebration with a certain Georgia lilt to them.

“What it comes down to is this,” Waits explains over a cup of Foxy Loxy brew. “I’m a Southern man—dyed-in-the-wool, born and raised here. Yeah, I’ve seen enough of the rest of the world to not fall into some of the same stereotypes as a lot of people think of Southerners. But, that being said, I embrace the hell out of where I’m from, and I love what we have here. I love being a part of it. We have a bloody past, but I’m from it, and that’s part of me: the good, the bad, and the ugly is what I was raised in.”

Following in the steps of his best friend, Waits first started strumming when he was about 9 or 10. While living in Atlanta in his 20s, he performed in a variety of bands, trying out the coffeehouse circuit on his own.

A self-described “survivor of self,” Waits’ songwriting process has grown and changed with him through the years, particularly as he emerged from his struggle with addiction.

“The irony was, when I got sober, the times weren’t as dark anymore,” he recalls. “So the inspiration—the need to get this stuff out—wasn’t quite there as much. So there’s been a change in what I do.”

You know that whole “art comes from suffering” saying?

“That first year, I couldn’t write,” Waits says. “I couldn’t. Nothing was coming.”

He began cobbling together scraps of old writing, pushing himself and practicing until he was able to put pen to paper again. Though he finds value in that kind of discipline—Waits loves the routine of sitting down at the kitchen table with his guitar and a cup of coffee to express his truth through song—he is gracious for the music that seemingly materializes out of nowhere.

“The best ones are the ones that are a like a flash,” he explains. “You get the inspiration, you sit down. Fifteen minutes later, it’s done. Those are the ones that are spiritual and come from somewhere. Every now and again, the atmosphere just sort of opens up, and you gotta be ready to reach up there and grab it.

“And that was a big problem with the heroin and boozing—I couldn’t feel that. I couldn’t touch it. It wasn’t there for me. When I got those out of the way, those moments started happening more frequently.”

Soon, Waits & Co. will record a live EP; Waits hopes to work on a full-length in the fall. While he’s interested in possibly taking the show on the road, the Georgia fella says he’s perfectly happy enjoying life’s small pleasures and taking this whole thing in stride.

“I’m realistic,” he says. “I’m in my 40s, I’m a survivor of self, and really just happy to be playing and having people enjoy it. If that means it doesn’t go any further than Savannah, that’s completely fine.”—Anna Chandler - Connect Savannah


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