SNAKE BLOOD REMEDY:SERIOUSLY SINCERE AND HUMBLE AS CAN BE
by: Ryan Merkel
J.D. Cook is a self proclaimed traditionalist. "I never strive to fit into someone's idea of what to play and do." J.D.Cook is one part of Snake Blood Remedy, the other being Micky Lynn on the banjo. I chatted with JD, and one theme really floated to the top of the conversation. JD makes Americana rock and country. It's classic country in every sense of the word. The band could have opened for Arlo Guthrie. JD has seen a lot of trends and a lot of changes throughout his time in North and Central Florida. Through all that, he just did his thing. "I do more shows now than ever. I get to work full-time and do what I love. My friends ask me, 'When am I gonna make them millions?' But I do what I gotta do. And I do alright."
It's a cliche in every sense of the word, but he means all of it. J.D. and his performing partner Micky Lynn work full-time on Snake Blood Remedy and it shows. The band is constantly slated with gigs across Florida, and they recently went on tour, bringing in a few players along the way. The band will play as a duo for convenience's sake, but will often bring on a full band.
We talked about trends, and JD reflected on his time in Jacksonville's 5 Points. "You don't head to 5 Points in a cowboy hat trying to fit in. It's indie and hipster. It's punk. If you see it on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, what have you, it'll be at 5 Points. I mean, I got friends up there and I reckon they would say the same thing." JD never for a moment seams to have an agenda, and angle, or a loftier goal aside from making music he loves to make. And there is something simplistic and admirable in that. "The music I play is just part of me. I found a niche. I can play a school. I can play a church. I can play a bar. It's a sound they don't often get."
Music is in a weird transition now, but we can take a moment to reflect on the very essential goal of what music is for the listener and the musician. It's a passion. It's meant to be enjoyed without an ulterior motive or agenda. I have spoken to a lot of people in my travels as a writer, and few are as straightforward about what they do and who they are.
CHATTANOOGA NOW: JESCO WHITE BUCK DANCES TO SNAKE BLOOD REMEDY AT REVELRY ROOM
“I put the show together because it’s important to me, and Jesco is my friend. I think he deserves a chance for people to see him and see his talent for what it is.”
— Snake Blood Remedy lead singer J.D.Cook
July 7th, 2016 by Casey Phillips in Chattnow Music
Whether you call it clogging, flatfoot, jigging or mountain tap, few people are as renowned as Jesco White for their skills in traditional Appalachian dancing.
Better known as "The Dancing Outlaw," White is the son of D. Ray White, a famed Appalachian buck dancer — yet another common name for the style — from whom he inherited his moves and his shoes. A native West Virginian, Jesco White became a cult celebrity in the pre-internet era through "The Dancing Outlaw," a documentary made in 1991 by the Public Broadcasting Service and passed from hand to hand via VHS tapes.
The documentary — and a 2011 follow-up, "Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia" — showcased many less than savory aspects of White's life but also created wider awareness of his "talking feet."
In the past, White has taken his show on the road to perform in concerts that gave equal billing to his dancing, singing, storytelling and "carrying on." On Saturday, July 9, he returns to Chattanooga for his first gig in five years with a performance alongside Florida-based country/old-time band Snake Blood Remedy, but this time, says lead singer J.D. Cook, fans will see him doing the one thing he does best.
"I'm singing, and we have the band going, and Jesco gets up there and just dances his [butt] off," he says. "That's what he's doing. He's just dancing."
Cook grew up outside Tifton, Ga., a town of about 16,000 located about 70 miles north of the Florida panhandle. He split his time in his teenage years between learning songs by Hank Williams and Johnny Cash and playing in metal and punk bands.
During a three-year tour in Iraq as an Army sniper, Cook took up the acoustic guitar and began writing songs on his down time. He returned to the states in 2007, moving to Jacksonville, Fla., a year later. In 2012, he formed Snake Blood Remedy, in which he performed original songs showcasing a hint of punk energy but heavily inspired by classic country singers and traditional old-time music.
Cook says he knew of White for years before he saw a Facebook event announcement last year inviting anyone willing to pay a $50 donation to attend the dancer's birthday party. Cook and two of his bandmates reserved their spots at the event, which was hosted at White's home in Leoma, Tenn., an unincorporated community in Lawrence County. They drove from Florida with their instruments in tow.
"We got up and played some tunes for it, and he really enjoyed it," Cook says. "From then on, we started tossing back and forth the idea of putting a show together where we play some more traditional music and have Jesco up there dancing kind of like what his daddy did."
After the party, Cook and White arranged to perform a trio of shows in Florida. Based on the response to those dates, during which White's dancing skills were placed front and center, Cook reprised their partnership for two more gigs in Chattanooga and Charlotte, N.C.
In the past, Cook says, people have gone to see White perform for the same reason the morbidly curious attend NASCAR races with fingers secretly crossed for a pile-up. This time, that won't be the case, he promises.
"Some people like the idea of him going crazy and being a wild man, but they don't understand what they're asking for when they ask for that," Cook says. "I put [this] show together because it's important to me, and Jesco is my friend. I think he deserves a chance for people to see him and see his talent for what it is."
Contact Casey Phillips at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @PhillipsCTFP.