Recently, my family and I took a quick trip to do some shopping in Johnson City, Tennessee. Over the course of the day – during the drive and while I was in the van minding my two youngest kids while my wife spent a long time in a fabric store – the radio was tuned to a local top-forty station.
It had been years since I had listened to a radio station for any extended period of time that wasn’t NPR, and it didn’t take me long to remember why. Though I was unfamiliar with the work of Sam Smith, Iggy Azalea, Ariana Grande, or Nico and Vinz, I had their most popular tunes memorized before I got home, considering each wafted across the air waves seemingly on the hour.
I couldn’t help but think, as I was bombarded by these tunes that were so much flash and so little substance, that I knew a laundry list of artists writing better tunes that I would love to hear more of on the radio.
Jonah Tolchin is on that list.
Just a hair this side of twenty years old, Tolchin writes and sings with a mojo more akin to someone decades older. Tolchin released his second record, Clover Lane, on Yep Roc this month. Featuring appearances from the likes of John McCauley, of Deer Tick, and Chris Scuggs, the new record is a fine collection of tunes displaying Tolchin’s appreciation of old blues and poignant lyrical sense.
Trail Mix recently caught up with Jonah Tolchin for a quick chat about favorite reads, songwriting, and must haves on the road.
BRO – Where’s your favorite place to write a song?
JT – Wherever the electricity strikes and almost always when I am alone.
BRO – Best book you have read recently?
JT – Autobiography of a Yogi, by Paramhansa Yogananda.
BRO – City you have played recently that you cannot wait to play again?
JT – I’m not really a city person, but if I had to pick one, it would be probably Providence, Rhode Island.
BRO – We are featuring “21st Century Girl” on Trail Mix this month. What’s the story behind the song?
JT – This is a song about slowing down the world and taking a look around. Questioning the way reality seems to be and moving deeper, beyond the surface.
BRO – One item you have to take with you on the road?
JT – My Gnome Socks that my bandmate Danny Roaman got for me. For good luck, of course.
This weekend, Jonah Tolchin, along with Dave Alvin and Phil Alvin, will be appearing at The Birchmere in Alexandria, Virginia. Tomorrow night, the trio will be in Charlotte, North Carolina, at The Visulite, and on Friday they appear at The Five Spot in Atlanta, Georgia.
For more information on Jonah Tolchin, how you might get your hands on a copy of Clover Lane, or when he might take to a stage near you, surf over to jonahtolchin.com.