Foodie Friday

Foodie Friday: Jason Eady on Food, Family, and New Self-Titled Album Released Today!

Foodie Friday: Jason Eady on Food, Family, and New Self-Titled Album Released Today!
Good Afternoon Jason! Thank you so much for talking with Battered and Brewed! Growing up in Texas, what was your favorite family recipe?

I actually grew up in Mississippi, even though I’ve lived in Texas for the last 15 years. I consider both of them home, but my family recipes all come from Mississippi. My dad’s side of the family was all about southern comfort food… fried chicken, greens, mashed potatoes and gravy, etc. Then my mom’s side of the family was a little more cajun influenced so there was a lot of gumbo and etouffee.  

Who got you interested in cooking? And whose cooking style is your biggest influence?

I got interested in cooking when I started traveling during my time in the air force. I love discovering new flavors and I was always really interested in trying to figure out what was going on in the recipes of different foods from different cultures. That all started when I was studying to learn Arabic in the Air Force and part of the class was “culture days” where our Arab instructors would teach us how to make middle eastern food. I’ve been hooked ever since.  I’ve only turned that interest into actual cooking in the last few years so hopefully I’ll keep learning a lot more about it in the years to come. 

@court_patton Moroccan meatballs!

Now that you have a family, any family traditions you have started? 

I think the biggest tradition we have is trying new recipes as a family. My wife and I travel a lot playing music and every time we find a new cuisine on the road, whether in the states or internationally, we always come home and try to reproduce it. That has turned into a real event over the years. 

@jasoneady First meal of the day. I love Italy.

Which is the dish you call your Signature dish?

Honestly, I very rarely make the same dish more than a few times. I like to try something until I get it right then I’m on to finding something new. If I had to pick my favorite so far, it would be a Swedish Meatball recipe that my wife and I picked up in Sweden when we were there a few years ago. There are some subtle differences to the way they make them over there that changes everything about the way that they taste.  

@jasoneady Date night home alone with @court_patton. Ate Swedish meatballs outside because it’s 65 degrees the day after Christmas. Thanks to @RootsAlongRiver for the glogg!!

What are 3 things you can always find in your kitchen?

Oil, onions, and garlic. I love that combination. It’s the basis for most recipes and there is nothing like that smell when those three ingredients start to blend together in the pan. It’s one of my favorite things about cooking.
Do you have a music playlist you listen to when cooking?

We have a turntable just outside of the kitchen with lots of vinyl that we’ve collected over the years. One of my favorite things to do is to put on records while I cook. There’s nothing like that old vinyl sound and there really is something to listening to all of those cracks and pops and listening to an album all the way through while your work. For me it’s usually older country music, but I also love to grab something completely random every now and then too just to shake things up. Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue” is a big go-to for me in those situations. 

@court_patton Mango habanero chicken with coconut cauliflower rice. #whole30

One food everyone tells you to try, but you just can’t get up the nerve.

I haven’t found one yet. I love trying new foods and have tried some things that I never thought I would try and have loved all of them. I will say that my two absolute “no’s” are water chestnuts and celery. So if someone made a water chestnut and celery salad then I’d definitely pass. Other than that I’m up for anything.  
Tell us about one memorable meal you’ve had during your travels. What did it involve?

That’s an easy one. There’s a restaurant in Washington DC called Komi. My wife and I went there for our anniversary a few years ago while we were in town playing shows. There is no menu. You tell them about any food allergies and let them handle the rest. It is up to the chef at that point. It was an eight course meal with a wine pairing for each course. The whole dinner lasted about three hours and each course was served tapas style. There were combinations of flavors that I would have never imagined would go together. That night was definitely a food highlight for me.

court_patton Octopussy #northatlantic #basquecountry #spain #getaria

Favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurant find on the road? 

Allen’s Fried Chicken in Sweetwater, TX. You walk in and they seat you family style with anyone else who happens to come in when you do. As soon as the table is full (which never takes long) they start bringing food. Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, peas, carrots, rolls…. it feels like a Sunday afternoon in the south every day. People pass the dishes like it’s Thanksgiving dinner. We have definitely routed our days around lunch at Allen’s a few times. 
What is your favorite restaurant in Fort Worth, TX?

It’s a Mexican restaurant called Mi Familia. When I first moved to Fort Worth it was a little hole in the wall but was always packed. The owner, Al, would meet everybody at the door and shake their hands as soon as they walked in. The service is incredible and I think it’s the best Mexican food in town. Eventually they moved into a bigger place because the demand grew to the point that they had to. The decor is nicer but the food and the service are exactly the same and Al or someone from his family still greets every customer at the door.  
What food is your food vice? You know, one you can’t control yourself around?

Chips and salsa. 100%. I’m pretty good at resisting temptations if I’m trying to be healthy, but if you put a basket of chips and salsa in front of me then it will be gone in a matter of minutes. It’s my kryptonite. 
After playing a late show, what is your guilty pleasure food?

Whataburger. #1 with cheese!
For fun, can you give an example of a “typical day” of eating for you, whether you are going out with friends or cooking at home.

I eat completely differently when I’m on the road versus when I’m at home. On the road I usually sleep through breakfast, eat a big lunch later in the afternoon, and then eat something pretty light after the show. My only criteria for food on the road is that I always try to eat local. I try to avoid big chains when I’m on the road. I’d much rather find places with local flavors. 

I eat out on the road so much that when I’m home I usually want to stay home. So when we get together with friends that usually involves either inviting them over or going to their house. I love good home cooked meals when I’m off the road. 
At home we like to get up and cook a good breakfast. I’m a big bacon and eggs fan, so I’ll usually make some version of that. Then a pretty light lunch, which is usually some form of leftovers from the night before. I love leftovers. Sometimes I think the flavors have time to settle in and there are some dishes that I swear taste better reheated the next day. Then for dinner we like to be random and creative. Sometimes we’ll cook ethnic dishes and sometimes we’ll go for different versions of old standards. Dinner is our time to experiment and get creative. Usually, even we don’t know what we are doing until that afternoon, then we run to the store for any missing ingredients and make an event out of cooking.  It’s always different.

@jasoneadyHad an amazing day with friends and family today! And @court_patton did an incredible job making all of this happen. She worked for 3 days to make this come together. I’m a lucky man!

You have a new single “Waiting to Shine,” that was just released. What is the story behind that song?

I wrote that song in 2006 when I was first starting to record albums. They say that the first album is always the easiest because you have your whole life until that point to write it. After that you have to look for different things to pull from. That’s where I was when I wrote this song. I had just finished my first album and was making my way forward as a songwriter and that’s exactly what the song is about. We have been playing that song live for the past ten years. The arrangement has changed a lot since then, which is why I wanted to include it on this album, but the words are still as real to me as they were back then. Songwriting is always elusive. If I knew how to write a great song every day then I would do just that. But it’s always the constant search for the right things to say. 
You have album coming out on April 21st, what was the writing and song selection process like for this album?

This was a very personal album for me. I have a very deep connection to each one of these songs, either through autobiographical lyrics or through my history with a certain song.  That’s why we self-titled the album. We tracked 14 songs for this album but only ended up keeping ten for that very reason. When I realized how personal this record was becoming I excluded anything that didn’t have that sort of connection to me.  
Obviously with each release, the sound matures. Were there any notable differences with your last release as opposed to the new one coming out?

I wanted to make an acoustic based album this time. I spend so much of my musical life in an acoustic setting, during the songwriting process, late night jams or acoustic shows, and I realized that I had never tried to capture that on an album before. So that’s exactly what we did. It’s a full band album but every instrument is acoustic, with the exception of steel guitar. I love steel guitar and can’t imagine ever making another album without some steel on it. And the fact that the lyrics were so important to me this time around made the acoustic set up even more vital so that the lyrics could stay out in front of the arrangements. 
When it came time to put together this album, what’s the one thing you thought to yourself, “This is what I don’t want to do?”

I didn’t want to do anything that wasn’t organic. I didn’t want to layer parts that would be impossible to reproduce live. Everything that is on this album can be reproduced in a live setting. Not that there is anything wrong with building big arrangements on albums. That is definitely an art form in itself and some of my favorite records have taken that approach, but that is not what I wanted to do this time around. The songs are so real to me that I wanted the arrangements to have that same realness. 
Finally for Battered and Brewed, If you could sit down and have a meal with one person, who would it be and where would you go?

I’d love to have a meal with Willie Nelson at his favorite restaurant. I’ve never met him before, but I feel like we’d have a lot to talk about. And I would be really interested to see where Willie Nelson would choose to go. I think every part of that would be an adventure.
ABOUT JASON EADY:

On his last two albums, Jason Eady earned major acclaim for his ahead-of-the-curve take on classic country, a bold departure from his earlier excursions into blues-infused Americana. Now with his sixth album, the Mississippi-bred singer/guitarist merges his distinct sensibilities into a stripped-down, roots-oriented sound that starkly showcases the gritty elegance of his songwriting.

The follow-up to 2014’s critically praised Daylight/Dark—an album that “belongs on a shelf next to Dwight Yoakam’s Buenos Noches from a Lonely Room, Joe Ely’s Letter to Laredo, and yes, even Willie Nelson’s Phases and Stages,” according to AllMusic—Eady’s latest finds the Fort Worth, Texas-based artist again teaming up with producer Kevin Welch. Now longtime collaborators (with their past efforts including 2012’s AM Country Heaven, a top 40 debut on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart), Eady and Welch worked closely in crafting the album’s acoustic-driven yet lushly textured aesthetic. “At the beginning I told everyone I wanted to make a record where, if the power went out, we could still sit down and play all the songs the exact same way,” says Eady, who points out that steel guitar is the only electric instrument featured on the album.

Despite its subtle approach, the album radiates a warm vitality that’s got much to do with Eady’s gift for nuanced yet unaffected slice-of-life storytelling. “I’ve always been drawn to writing that’s got a simplicity to it, where you’re digging deep into real day-to-day life,” he notes. Here, that means touching on such matters as turning 40 (on the reflective, soul-stirring “40 Years”), his daughter’s growing up and going off to college (on the sweetly heartbreaking “Not Too Loud”), and the everyday struggle to “embrace the messy parts of life instead of trying to get the point where you’ve somehow fixed all your problems” (on “Rain,” a joyfully determined anthem featuring SteelDrivers fiddler Tammy Rogers). Throughout the album, Eady’s soulfully rugged voice blends in beautiful harmonies with his wife, singer/songwriter Courtney Patton. And on “No Genie in This Bottle,” the legendary Vince Gill lends his singular vocals to what Eady refers to as a “good old country drinking song.”

In each track, Eady reveals a sharp sense of songcraft he’s honed since childhood. “Even back in my early days of getting into music, I always cared more about the writers than the singers,” says Eady, who grew up in Jackson. “I’d look up who’d written a certain song, and then go seek out more songs from that writer.” At age 14—the same year he started writing his own material—Eady began performing in local bars and showing his natural grasp of everything from soul and R&B to blues and country. After some time in the Air Force, he moved to Fort Worth and started playing open mic nights, where he quickly built up a devoted following. By 2005, Eady had made his debut with the independently released From Underneath The Old.

For Eady—who names Merle Haggard, Guy Clark, and Willie Nelson among his main inspirations—instilling each song with so much graceful honesty proved to be his greatest achievement and thrill in creating the new album. “When you first get started making music, your ideas are grandiose and more about the big picture. But the longer I’ve done this, the more I’ve realized that the real joy comes from the process rather than the end goal,” he says. “Now it’s about getting better and finding more of myself with every album. So instead of writing what I think people want to hear, I’m writing what I want to write and trusting that—as long as it’s coming from an honest place—it’ll hopefully mean something to the people listening too.”

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