By Brian Tucker
Local singer-songwriter Jesse Stockton recently began a Tuesday night residency at Lagerheads that will likely continue until fall, with shows beginning around 10 p.m. until closing.
Stockton, who performs as part of MerleFest this weekend with band Moonlight Co. is curious himself about spending the summer playing at Lagerheads. The show each week will be Stockton and brother Jacob performing under the name Fully Stocked. Performing with his brother is in part a bandage. The two have been playing together since Stockton recently endured personal tragedies. In the wake of that he felt he could not face a crowd alone when performing.
“I desperately needed my brother to be next to me so I could get back on that horse,” Stockton said. “Although it’s only been about three months, we very much speak the same language on stage. The communication you experience between musicians is very much there, saying all the things you want to with just a look.”
Stockton is a local gem, a singer whose voice is heartfelt and engaging, a mix of broken angel and Americana storyteller. But Lagerheads is as much a venue as it is home away from home.
“I am not completely sure how this summer at Lager’s is gonna pan out,” Stockton said. “I am continuously writing new material, and that is definitely a place I’ve always felt the most comfortable trying out new music.”
It’s a close-knit location that allows him a sense of invisibility, an “I don’t care” feeling about what anyone thinks as he works out new songs. He thinks of it as his proving ground, that if he can affect someone or change their opinion, then “maybe I actually have a good song.”
“I take this art form extremely serious so it’s still hard for me to put myself out there in terms of what people’s opinions might be. And of course it’s always worse in your head than it winds up being.”
Stockton was playing a full band rehearsal recently with Benji Smith, his brother Jacob, and Andy Lade on drums downtown at Duck and Dive. As the evening wore on he realized that the songs Smith was calling out to play Stockton had not performed for some time.
“It dawned on me that our set list is not only completely different but ever-changing, as I try to learn a different cover almost daily.”
Covers notwithstanding, Stockton’s set is comprised of original songs. His last album Thank You Very Kindly had nothing but solid material on it, from gospel flavored “Can’t Get Away with It” to the achingly beautiful “Sinner.” But whether a heartfelt tune or a real barn burner, even a cover song, its Stockton’s vocal delivery that pulls a listener in.
He says he’s always writing for a new album. It’s Americana and folk, but its material Stockton says has a lot more to it than an acoustic arrangement, some leaning more towards a Wilco, controlled chaos type of vibe.”
“So many horrible things have recently happened to me. Living and experiencing the pain and loss, basically my family forced me to sit and write many, many things down, and eventually songs.”
In the last month Stockton has written six new songs for a future album and parts of a few more.
“I enjoy simple songs for what they are worth, because if you can’t raise the hair on my arm with three chords then the words you are saying in the song are probably not worth a damn either. I have found the simplest things are the things worth keeping in this life. I have enough complications.”