Local Noise: Music From The Jar

Jarrett Dean has made himself a fixture on the Jersey shore music scene ever since relocating here from his home environs in Indiana. It was back in the mid ‘90s that he decided this was the place to pursue his musical endeavors after stops in Nashville and Miami.

The first thing he did when he got here was to make a pilgrimage to Jon Bon Jovi’s home in Rumson. Not expecting to actually find Jon, he happened upon Jon’s home just after a Fed-Ex delivery had been completed and the front gate was wide open. So Jarrett strolled up to the front door and rang the bell, and lo and behold, Jon himself answered. Jarrett stammered something about just moving here from Indiana, and wanting to thank Jon for the inspiration. Jon was polite and wished him luck, and Jarrett went on his way. A perfect introduction to the Jersey music scene if there ever was one.

Jarrett started gigging and recording as half of the duo Acoustic Soul, along with New Jersey native Bobby Castellano. They managed to score regular gigs all around the area. They also opened shows at the Stone Pony and played the Red Bank New Year’s Eve festival in front of 5,000 people, which was also broadcast on the radio. With a critically acclaimed self-produced CD, the band seemed on its way to bigger things when they split up, leading to the formation of his next project, Talk Town.

The new group also made a name for itself, with numerous area shows and contributions from stellar musicians such as guitar virtuoso Stephen Ross, keyboardist Nick Jupinka, and drummers Lou Takacs and Tim Perry. Another CD of radio ready pop was produced, leading to several New York City showcases.

During this time Jarrett also drew the attention of some people connected with comedian Eddie Murphy, which led to some recording sessions at Bubble Hill, the Englewood estate where Eddie kept a fully stock recording facility. The band recorded amidst accoutrements such as a scarf worn by Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock, autographed boxing gloves from Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson, and a framed letter from Paul McCartney inviting Eddie to a benefit performance he was putting together.

After a brief sojourn back to Indiana to deal with a health issue, Jarrett is back in New Jersey, and has just released a brand new collection of songs. This time the music is very much self-contained, with Jarrett playing most of the instruments himself. He even did most of the recording and production in his home studio. It also focuses on his songwriting, which has always been his strength.

“I originally wanted to call this CD Songs 4 Sale, because the original intent was to sell the songs and my songwriting ability,“ Jarrett explains. “But the CD has pleasantly taken on a life of its own. The Music From The Jar name comes from Jar being a nickname only special people called me growing up—short for Jarrett, obviously. The title of the CD, Once Upon A Life, came from wanting to start anew, and myself kind of having to start over in all aspects of life, but not forgetting the good and the bad of what got me here.”

Musically, the compositions continue Jarrett’s long time talent for writing catchy hooks and songs with pop sensibilities, with the songs often sounding like they would be right at home on a Matchbox Twenty album. In fact, he cites artists such as Rob Thomas, Nickelback and Noel Gallagher of Oasis as influences. “I always describe it as alternative adult contemporary bordering on alternative country,” he adds. “Very Ryan Adams, singer-songwriter, and catchy.”

While many songwriters work from a piece of music and then develop the lyrical content, Jarrett often starts with a song title and goes from there. “Ideas just pop in my head that always sound like a good song title,” he says. “If you come up with a good working title, you would be amazed how you can work off of that. The two songs from Once Upon A Life that seem to be hitting home runs are ‘In A Lifetime’ and ‘Pretty When She Smiles.’

Jarrett has made use of many non-mainstream instruments such as mandolin in the past. The new CD has him utilizing a banjo for the first time. “There wound up being a banjo on several borderline country songs, but I got a cheap one for $150 off of eBay that sounded good but would not stay in tune,” he laughs. “One session, I left it out in my car by accident and it was basically frozen, but we brought it inside and it completely stayed in tune for about an hour!”

Jarrett just did a live appearance on the Joey Reynolds show on CBS radio in New York, is working on an acoustic coffee house tour for the summer and you will also be able to find him on Tuesday afternoons at Martell’s and The Waters Edge in Bayville on Wednesday nights.

You can get the new Music From The Jar CD at CDBaby.com/musicfromthejar, from iTunes, at Amazon.com and at his live shows. For further information about Jarrett, and to find out about upcoming shows, check out myspace.com/musicfromthejar.