The band Jericho Woods has its roots in a rural town in Kentucky that boasts having the world’s smallest Walmart and McDonald's. “If John Mellencamp and Tom Petty were country musicians and had a baby in a tobacco barn, that’s what Jericho Woods sounds like.” That is how the band’s bass player and one of its founding members, Paul Priest, describes their music.
Paul and his cousin, Josh Mitcham, started the band on November 30, 2013, on what would have been Mark Twain’s 178th birthday -- which Paul says was “cosmic.” Josh was a high school agriculture teacher back then, and has been doing music full time for two years now. Other band members have come and gone (their last drummer took a job with country superstar Chris Janson). The current roster represents a melting pot of influences (bluegrass, classical, country, and rock) that results in their unique sound. Guitarist Aaryn Martin and drummer Will Johnston both live in Nashville. Anna Blanton commutes from Indiana to play violin with the band; she also goes on the road with other bands like Hanson, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and Disturbed -- playing violin in their rendition of “The Sound of Silence.” Josh, the band’s frontman, says, “They all come from such varied backgrounds that they have ideas they’ve borrowed from the best.” He also says the younger band members have re-energized the band. “Paul and I grew up in the 90’s, where some of these kids were born in the 90’s.”
Jericho Woods is putting the finishing touches on their new 10-track album, which was recorded at OmniSound Studios in Nashville and will be released this May. Josh says there were some challenges in making the album. “We started this record, and then boom, we started loosing people. So we had to call in some favors.”
Those favors resulted in some of Nashville’s best session players and touring musicians playing on their album, including Smith Curry (steel guitar) and Jimmy Mattingly (Garth Brooks’ fiddle player). “Those people are big deals, but the surprising one is Rami Jaffee from Foo Fighters.” Jaffee plays keyboards on one of the songs (via the magic of the internet, he sent the B-3 organ tracks from Europe where he was touring).
“We have some cool co-writes on there, too.” Russell Dickerson, who had two No. 1 hits on the country charts with “Yours” and “Blue Tacoma,” co-wrote one of the songs. Another cut was co-written by Eric Paslay, who has five No. 1 hits including Jake Owen’s “Barefoot Blue Jean Night” and his own single “Friday Night.”
Jericho Woods will be releasing the new album independently with their producer, Skidd Mills. “We’re in that day and age where if you don’t have a million dollars or a huge investor behind you, it’s really hard to make a dent unless there’s a grassroots spark and something goes viral.” The band will focus on touring extensively in Kentucky and getting their home state fans behind them.
They will also be getting airplay from WXBC radio (104.3 FM) in Hardinsburg, Kentucky, where Paul and Josh were born and raised. In addition to his role in the band, Paul has a day job at the radio station as a DJ. “I love radio almost as much as I love playing music.” Previous releases by Jericho Woods have been on the station’s play list because “the county demands it.” And, Paul also jokes, “My granny listens and Josh’s mamaw listens, and if I don’t play our music then I have to deal with them!” Some of the band’s older songs have also gotten airplay in Texas and Oklahoma. “We’re akin enough to the red dirt scene that radio there has taken a shine to us.”
“The goal is to continue to play bigger shows in front of bigger audiences and meet more and more people and be able to connect.” Josh believes that quitting his teaching job and diving headfirst into music has probably added years to his life. “Now I’ll be poorer for those extended years that I live, but I feel like we’re living our best life.” He jokes that when he and Paul kick the bucket, the younger members of the band can carry on. Paul adds that having Aaryn, Will, and Anna in the band keeps their music fresh. “If it was a bunch of 40-year-old guys up here, even if we’re playing original music, it’s kind of like a 90’s tribute band.” Will chimed in, “Josh and Paul might be older than the rest of us, but they act more like my age!”
The band weighed in on the current and future state of country music. “We’re at a critical mass right now in country music. People gripe and say there’s no good country music out now, and that is complete bull." Paul references traditional-sounding acts like Midland and Luke Combs that are having success on country radio. “I think there’s going to be more quality music come out this year and next year than there has been in the last decade, mainstream-wise.” Paul also predicts an end to the era of bro country. “I think it’s time for people to bend their cap bill -- for the love of God -- and sing where I can understand you. A little less vape, a little more dip.”
That sounds like a hook for a country song!
For more information on Jericho Woods, along with their tour schedule, go to www.JerichoWoodsBand.com
In January, Jericho Woods recorded a new single (not part of the upcoming album) at Sound Stage Studios on Music Row. Imagine Recordings brought a group of guests to experience what it's like to be at a recording session in Nashville. Watch the video below to get a look behind the scenes.
Prior to the release of the band’s album in May, lead singer Josh Mitcham is releasing a solo project titled “Not That Serious” on March 29. The eight tracks were recorded at La La Land in Louisville, Kentucky. The musician credits include Jericho Woods band members Aaryn Martin (guitar, drums); Anna Blanton (violin, cello); Paul Priest (bass); as well as Steve Fishell on steel guitar and Anthony Tarullo on drums. Josh’s 12-year-old son played trumpet on “Pushover” and directed the stop motion video for “Buzzards Flying Over Town,” which also feature’s Josh’s 11-year-old daughter on background vocals. Watch the music video below.
Written by Laurel Moore 03/11/19 for Live Laugh Love Nashville