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Jerry Castle is an American singer-songwriter from the small Appalachian town of Abingdon, VA. He’s a guy that you’re pretty sure you know. Not only does his heart shaped face, dark brown curly hair and beard make you feel like he’s an old college acquaintance that you’ve smoked a joint with back in the day but you also find yourself thinking you’ve heard his songs before, though you likely haven’t.
Hot on the heels of his critically acclaimed 2013 release, Desperate Parade, Jerry Castle will release his fourth solo record South Holston on Aug 26, 2014. The title is a nod to the lake that Castle spent his teenage years “trying to figure out his place in the world, pushing boundaries, and flirting with death” as he puts it. Chad Brown (Robert Plant, Jim Lauderdale, Ryan Adams) co-produced South Holston with Castle and manifold three-time Grammy winner Warren Riker (The Fugees, Shooter Jennings, Down) handled the mixing duties. South Holston was recorded live at Patty Griffin’s Studio G in East Nashville in late 2013. The band that was assembled for the recording of South Holston includes pedal steel guitarist Russ Pahl (Ray LaMontagne, Kings Of Leon, Lana Del Rey), upright bassist Dave Roe (Ray LaMontagne, Johnny Cash, Dwight Yoakam), as well as his full-time bandmates Matthew Burgess (percussion) and Adam Fluhrer (guitar), who were in the middle of a two month US tour. Of the album, Castle comments “We spend so much of our lives being controlled by fear and the societal expectations of our peers. Having the courage to do what’s in your heart and the wherewithal to allow things to ‘just be’ seems to be the real key as well the real struggle for most of us. That’s what this record is about. It was important to me that this record cover a wide spectrum of country music while still maintaining some sense of continuity and I feel like we accomplished that.” Like many of the troubadours that came before him, Jerry Castle has had more than his share of ups and downs in the music industry.
His flare for writing hooks has been both a blessing and a curse. Many Americana purist have labeled Castle as “too pop for Americana” and Music Row considers him to be “too Americana for country.” In 2006 Music Row did what Music Row does; they paired him with professional songwriters that write everyday from 11:00 A.M. until 2:00 P.M. in pursuit of “the hit.” This nearly ended his career as an artist. “Up until that point I had always written from the heart and I think that suddenly being in a place where I was trying to write songs simply for monetary gain stymied my creativity and my soul rebelled against it.” In 2007 Castle developed a case of writers block that ended up lasting for over a year and suddenly he found himself without the outlet that had always brought some sense of peace to his tumultuous life. On top of that, he was going through a divorce, struggling to financially support his infant daughter, working as a secondary country radio promoter during the day and waiting tables at night. Determined to put his financial troubles behind, he walked away from his music and began a career in corporate America. For over a year it seemed that corporate America might stick but like all true songwriters, the religion of music soon found its way back into that same soul that rebelled against writing songs to be music row hits.
In 2009 Castle began writing and recording songs that eventually became his 2010 release Don’t Even Ask. This was the first full-length album that he had released since 2004’s Back Side Of Down. Since returning to his calling as a songwriter he has continued to experience more than his share of ups and downs. What has changed since his return is that walking away from music no longer seems to be something that is a consideration. “Of course I’d like to be more successful than I have been up to this point but overall, I’m more at peace with the fact that I’m meant to be a singer-songwriter and I’m learning that my path is unique and that it’s not meant to be compared to other singer-songwriters paths.”
Jerry Castle’s a whole lot a rock n roll wrapped in a whole lot a country. He has become best known for his country-rock songwriting about heartbreak, hard living, and lessons learned from a colorful life both at home and on the road. He still believes that songwriting should be magical, not contrived and if the last four years are any indication, his best work is yet to come.