Jesse Stratton is an alternative country/Americana artist hailing from just outside Austin, Texas. He’s been playing music since the age of 10 and has fronted his own band since 2014. His latest album “Family & Friends” came out last fall.
ME: How did you get involved with Wisconsin Music Ventures?
JESSE: I reached out to Allison after seeing some shows in the Milwaukee area that got advertised online, and I was hoping to find some way to play. I got in touch with her, and that was how.
ME: Nice. Have you made it up here to play yet?
JESSE: Yeah, we played at the Mayfair Collection.
ME: That’s like WMV headquarters over there.
JESSE: It was a cool place to play; we had a really great time.
ME: I know you’re in Colorado right now; how is it?
JESSE: Good! We’re out here playing a few shows and it’s just me and my son. It’s our first time doing a little tour together.
ME: That’s awesome! Any altitude sickness?
JESSE: No, we haven’t had any trouble with it. We’ve come once a year for the last few years and I think we’ve gotten used to it.
ME: That’s good. I’ve heard it can be pretty bad in Colorado.
ME: So, you live around Austin. What do you think of SXSW?
JESSE: I’ve never played at it or gone to it (laughs). I have some friends who live in Austin and love going to it because there’s typically great bands from all over the world who come and play all over Austin. It’s not something I’ve ever really gotten into, personally.
ME: Sure. Would you do it, given the opportunity?
JESSE: I definitely would; we’ve just never been offered a show. But if we got a spot on a showcase or featured stage, we’d definitely do it.
ME: Hopefully it happens someday! It’s a pretty cool experience.
ME: Tell me about what went into your most recent record “Family & Friends.”
JESSE: It’s inspired by the people in my family and playing out on the road with the band. I had all these songs that I’d been writing about my family over the years, so I decided to put them all together in one collection. I have four children and I’m married so my whole life is centered around them, and the stories on the album are about what we do together and the fun we have but also the challenges we have. It’s a look at my life, basically. There are some stories about my grandparents on there and a few songs about my parents too. It was kind of sparked by when everything got shut down in 2020, and for the first time in a long time I was able to spend some weekends at home because I wasn’t out playing all the time. There were a lot of things that were happening at the time that weren’t great, but a huge positive was the time spent with my family.
ME: Yeah, I can relate to those feelings. It was definitely a time that reminded us that it’s okay to slow down and do things that help you unwind.
ME: My last question is, what are you working on now?
JESSE: Well, I’m always writing songs and never really stop; it’s kind of a constant thing for me. I don’t have any studio time booked for the next album yet but I’m always working on material. The main focus right now is just booking worthwhile shows. I’m doing a string of music videos to support the album rather than just record another album right away. I’ve been able to record and release some videos already, which has been good; we actually recorded one in Wisconsin that we haven’t released yet. We filmed it in Eau Claire, where my grandfather lived for most of his life, which was a very special thing we were able to put together.