ARLINGTON — After nearly two years as the “Singing Cowboy” of Hawaii, country musician Jesse Taylor has come home to Arlington, albeit with a side-trip to Nashville.
The 24-year-old Taylor began working as a wrangler at the Koele Stables on the island of Lanai, which is part of Hawaii, in August of 2010, just one month after he’d been playing his guitar in a little bar just east of Kalispell, Mont., where he first caught the ear of the wife of the manager of the Koele Stables.
When the Koele Stables manager himself called Taylor on the phone a few weeks later to offer him a chance to ride horses and play music in Hawaii, it represented the culmination of a year and a half of hard work and lean living on his part, starting after he was laid off from his job in January of 2009. He recorded a CD of 10 songs that he’d written in his mother’s kitchen, and then traveled back and forth across the continental United States from May through August of that year to promote his music.
“In Hawaii, I was singing every day,” Taylor said. “I practiced for hours between rides. I grew as a singer and songwriter, but I got bored by the same old trails.”
Before Taylor came home to perform in downtown Arlington venues, he spent the month of November at Marina McBride’s Blackbird Studio in Nashville, recording his second album, which includes nine songs that he wrote and two more written by his father.
“Kenny Chesney and J. Michael Montgomery were there at the same time,” Taylor said. “Everyone there was professional and had no ego. Nashville is just a really big family. Being around people who are so much better pushes you to do better.”
Just as Taylor credits his father with teaching him how to play the guitar at rodeos, so too does he pay tribute to his mother with the name of his label, “Mama’s Kitchen Records,” a nod to how he recorded his first album in her kitchen.
Taylor’s role models in country music include Waylon Jennings, George Strait and Chris LeDoux, and he believes his authenticity helps set his own music apart from his peers.
“I want people to know that I’m an actual cowboy,” Taylor said. “What’s in my songs isn’t just made up. It’s based on my lived experiences. I want my concerts to feel like rodeos. Hopefully, people swing by, have a good time and dance with some girls.”
After performing at the Mirkwood and Shire Cafe and the White Horse Tavern in downtown Arlington, Taylor’s next performance is set for 5 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 19, at the Skookum Brewery, located at 17925 59th Ave. NE in Arlington. He expects that “Out Here in the Country,” the first single from his new album, will hit local radio stations this month, before its official release on March 26, which he plans to celebrate with a party at the Skookum Brewery on March 23.
“Hawaii was great, but believe it or not, I actually missed the weather out here,” said Taylor, who also aims to do a radio tour in February and to follow the rodeo circuit starting in April. “I couldn’t wait to get back home and see the faces of my friends and family here. I missed the rain, and I missed the small-town vibe of this place. I love this town.”
For more information, log onto Taylor’s website at www.jessetaylormusic.com.