Storytelling is something of a Texas tradition. Tall hats and even taller tales are woven into the fabric of The Lone Star State, and singer-songwriter Jarrod Dickenson can spin a yarn with the best of them. Hailing from Waco, now based in Nashville via Brooklyn, Dickenson spends most of his time on the road bringing his own particular brand of soulful Americana to a wide variety of music loving audiences around the globe.
Growing up in Central Texas, Dickenson began playing music relatively late, only picking up a guitar for the first time at the age of 18, but music had always been a constant presence in his upbringing.
“As a kid and especially into my teenage years I was always sifting through my dad’s old record collection,” he recalls. “I’d spend hours listening to people like The Beatles, The Stones, Simon & Garfunkel and Tom Petty. I think it’s safe to say that my love for and early education in music comes from my father. My creative side, however, definitely comes from my mom. She’s always been a very artistic and creative person. As a kid she taught me to draw, and throughout the years she’s been an amateur painter and is now a phenomenal quilter. I have no doubt that she could have made a career as an artist if she’d chosen to go down that path.”
At 20, Dickenson left Waco and moved south to Austin to finish college at the University of Texas. It was there that he began to cut his teeth as a budding musician and songwriter in the Austin music scene. He played virtually every coffee shop, club and bar in Austin for the next four years, during which time he recorded his first album, Ashes On The Ground. Shortly after the release of his first record he decided to give up his apartment in Austin, as well as the financial security of his day job, and hit the road; a decision that would prove to be quite literally life-changing.
“In early 2010 I decided I needed to leave my comfort zone. I loved Austin, but I wasn’t satisfied with simply playing the same gigs week in and week out. I wanted a change. I wanted to be on the road. So, I booked myself something like 26 gigs in 31 days all along the west coast. Now, I’d never even been to California at that point, so I had no logical reason to believe that anyone would actually attend these shows,” Jarrod remembers “but I was young and naive and ready to take on the world. That tour, in a financial sense, was a massive failure! Most of the shows I played were to the sound guy, the bartender and the door person, and every now and then, the odd person who just happened to walk in that night. I drove myself over 4,000 miles, lost a ton of money, and only gained a handful of fans in the process. Any sane person would have thrown up their hands, moved back home and gotten a straight job, but I had the time of my life! While that tour wasn’t a success in the traditional sense, it showed me that I loved being on the road. I loved traveling. I loved singing my songs in different places to anyone who would listen. I learned a lot of lessons about how not to do things on that tour, but I also realized in that moment that there wasn’t a single thing in this world I’d rather be doing.” Since that time, Dickenson has shown no signs of slowing down. In the last ten years he’s played hundreds upon hundreds of shows in over 15 countries.
Jarrod’s musical journey has also led to multiple cross-country moves over the last decade. He first moved from Austin to Nashville, TN, and then had a brief stint in Los Angeles, where he recorded his critically acclaimed second album, The Lonesome Traveler, with producer-engineer Ryan Freeland. That album opened the door for Jarrod to begin touring in Europe; a step that would not only play a significant role in the evolution of his career, but it would also forever change the course of his personal life.
By early 2012 Dickenson had once again packed his belongings into his car, pointed northeast and moved his life to Brooklyn, NY. It was also around this time that Jarrod found himself performing at a songwriter’s festival in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where thanks to a chance meeting, Jarrod met his future wife, Claire Dickenson (then Claire Ward). After just a few days spent together, the two immediately embarked upon what would be a three and a half year long-distance relationship between New York and Belfast, and have now been married for nearly five years. After about a year of dating, Jarrod was sitting in his 250 square foot studio apartment in Brooklyn playing guitar and working on a new song while Claire was in town for a short visit, when out of nowhere, Claire started quietly singing a harmony to what he was working on. “I couldn’t believe it,” Jarrod recalls “I’d never really heard Claire sing up to that point, and I was completely blown away. I stopped mid song, and asked her why she’d been keeping that voice a secret!” Though it took some coaxing, Jarrod gradually convinced her to join him on stage at his gigs. Claire is now an integral part of the show, and the two tour the world together as a Texan-Irish husband-wife team. Their duet, Your Heart Belongs To Me, has become a fan favorite, and has been used as a first dance song for several of Dickenson’s fans at their weddings.
Over the last 8 years, Jarrod has continued to tour the UK and Europe relentlessly, building a formidable and fiercely loyal fan base in the process. Breakout performances at Glastonbury, Black Deer and Cambridge Folk Festival, along with recent tours supporting legendary artists such as Bonnie Raitt, Don McLean, and The Waterboys as well as his own headline tours have seen Dickenson’s audience grow exponentially. In the autumn of 2019 Dickenson embarked upon his biggest headline tour to date, resulting in a 13-date fully sold out tour across the UK.
Jarrod’s new album, Ready The Horses, which received a major label release in the UK is another step forward for the artist. Where The Lonesome Traveler was rich with folksy storytelling and largely acoustic instrumentation, Ready The Horses dives head-first into the whiskey-soaked worlds of soul and junkyard blues, while retaining Dickenson’s knack for telling a captivating story. It’s louder and electrified with an intensity that can’t be denied. Recorded live straight to 2” tape in a studio on the southeast coast of England, Ready The Horses is filled with punchy horns and big Hammond organ swells, infectious melodies and most importantly, incredibly well-crafted songs. The album has a sense of urgency and potency that grips the listener from the get-go, straps them in and takes them on a journey.
Hot off the heels of his critically acclaimed album, Ready The Horses, released worldwide in May 2020, Dickenson is back with a tip of the hat to his home state of Texas with Under A Texas Sky. The five-song EP celebrates the music and musicians of The Lone Star State, and shows its rich and diverse musical heritage. Dickenson endeavored to reimagine songs from Texas-born artists such as Roy Orbison, Esther Phillips, Willie Nelson, Doug Sahm and Guy Clark to offer a bold, earthy and honest collection of Texas tunes.
"His songs carry an independent spirit and grit... a hard-bitten, yet romantic eye that seems bred into Lone Star Songwriters" -Q Magazine
“Jarrod Dickenson's rootsy, broad-ranged Americana draws deeply from tradition while forging all-new sounds.” - PopMatters
“His deep, emotional, often luxurious voice envelops songs of love and loss, enticing you into these stories.” - American Songwriter
"A smokey-toned Texan with a smooth line in Country-Soul..." -Uncut Magazine
“A voice like a young Tom Waits...Jarrod Dickenson's songs are simply breathtaking, possessing melodies many of his peers would give their left arm for.” - No Depression
"A slice of pure, unadulterated white boy soul... watch out for this guy" -Acoustic Magazine
"Painting extraordinarily cinematic pictures with his words..." -Rocking Magpie
"A smokey, filthy, Waitsy, Cohen-Inflected piece of subterranean melodrama...and I like it." -Shaun Keaveny, BBC Radio 6 Music
"In the tradition of old southern Americana, but with a feel of something current; storytelling with soul." -Chris Hawkins, BBC Radio 6 Music
"If you can catch him, you should...he reminds me of this cat, Gram Parsons" -Huey Morgan, BBC Radio 2
"An incredible talent" -Janice Long, BBC Radio 2
"Dickenson has a superb, expressive voice..." -Country Music People (5 Star Review)
"Brilliant songs" -Cerys Matthews, BBC Radio 6 Music