Americana band JD & The Straight Shot is comprised of vocalist/guitarist Jim Dolan, guitarist Marc Copely (B.B. King, Rosanne Cash), bassist Byron House (Robert Plant, Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton), violinist/fiddler Erin Slaver (Martina McBride, Rod Stewart) and drummer/percussionist Shawn Pelton (Sheryl Crow, Levon Helm, Saturday Night Live band). The dynamic group’s all-acoustic record and most recent release”Good Luck And Good Night” was produced and mixed by Copely (Toby Lightman, Owen Danoff, Upright Man) and engineered by Chuck Ainley (Mark Knopfler, George Strait, Lee Ann Womack) at Soundstage Studios in Nashville. Influenced by artists like The Beach Boys, Pink Floyd and The Beatles along with traditional Irish folk music and classical music, the album delivers a huge sound steeped in the quiet fire of American roots music and the swagger of rock n’ roll.
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SunCity Paradise: JD & The Straight Shot band members hail from both New York City and Nashville. What stands out about both cities and makes them special to you? Where would you send a first-time visitor to get a real sense of the surrounding areas?
Marc Copely: I’ve lived in both cities for most of my adult life, although Nashville for only the past three-and-a-half years, so I haven’t really figured out Nashville yet. NYC is the most special place on earth for me. The energy, the wealth of talent in all the arts and the diversity are what I love most about New York. When I’m there, I’m inspired. Nashville is a lot more relaxing and slow moving which is also nice.
When in NYC, I’d say to go downtown and stroll around. You’ll see Chinatown, Lower East Side and the West Village. You’ll always find something that attracts you there. Great food, people and the vibe is unbeatable. When in Nashville, I’d say go to Station Inn, an incredible music venue that has some of the best bluegrass players on the planet. Then, go hear The Time Jumpers with Vince Gill.
SCP: What was your first real exposure to music? How did you get inspired to create your own and eventually pursue it as a career? How did you join JD & The Straight Shot?
MC: My babysitter put on Led Zeppelin IV and after that, I was done! Rock and roll forever after that. Growing up I had friend on my street who played guitar, so we’d hang and learn songs together. The first song I learned was “Take It Easy” by the Eagles.
I joined JD & The Straight Shot after my good friend Charley Drayton called me up to play in the band. He was the musical director at the time, and he put together a stellar band. It was an honor for me to be called to work with such an incredible group.
SCP: To create music, and traveling to promote it must be such a feeling. What’s the most impactful and meaningful part you and the band cherish about it? Does the travel help inspirationally?
MC: We love spending time together. We’ll go out to just grab dinner and it’ll turn into a fun time and long hang with lots of joking around and in my case, wine being poured! Travel definitely helps for inspiration. We recently returned from three weeks in Europe and after the jet lag wears off, I’m sure we’ll have some ideas to write about based on stories from the trip.
SCP: You just released the album “Good Luck And Good Night” in September. What was the band’s overall vision or goal for this release? How has it been received by your fans since it dropped?
MC: Our goal is to make the best record we possibly can. It’s all about the stories and the music framing those stories. I always feel that when you focus on the music, everything else comes together. On the road, we’ve been getting standing ovations and the crowds have been incredible.
SCP: What’s one stark difference between traveling as a band versus personal traveling?
MC: Well, we have to work when we’re on tour. Personal traveling is a lot less planes, trains and automobiles.
SCP: When searching for a personal getaway, are you looking for a serene beach or after a more active, adventurous getaway? Why?
MC: Usually, I go for the beach since my wife and I are both beach babies. I spent a lot of time on Cape Cod as a kid, so that’s where I tend to wind down. But, this year we’re going to Rome for Christmas and New Year’s, so we’re changing it up to a more exciting and cultural trip.
SCP: One of our core objectives at SunCity Paradise is to bring people together while traveling, not only to influence people to see and appreciate our beautiful world, but to also minimize cross-cultural divides. What effect does traveling, specifically surrounding music, have on humans in this regard? How has it broadened your perspective of the world?
MC: One example would be the time I’ve spent in Mexico. I’ve been all over the country and have made many friends there. My wife traveled there as a child and met a little girl her age, and they’ve kept in touch through the years. And, years later, we got engaged at her family’s home in Mexico, and her daughters were in our wedding. They read a poem “I love” by Octavio Paz. She read it in Spanish and her daughter read it in English, and it was my favorite moment of the ceremony. Then we danced to traditional Mexican music mixed with some American R&B and soul tunes.
SCP: Everyone has a list of places that they still have to hit. What are three destinations that JD & The Straight Shot would like to play, and why? What are three favorite places the band has already played, and why?
MC: We’d like to hit all of Asia. That counts for a few countries, right? We haven’t been there yet and I think they’d love our music. Our favorite places to play so far are Amsterdam, Dublin and we all love London too. The food, the people and the culture are so great.
SCP: When you’re relaxing on a beach or just have some downtime, who are your favorite musical acts to listen to? Who are artists that have been most influential on both you and on the band?
MC: The band really goes for rootsy American music like The Band, Little Feat and The Allman Brothers Band. The Eagles have probably been the most influential since we’ve played about 50 shows with them in the past.