Wonky Tonk is Jasmine Poole. She has been playing for about 7 years now. She has seemingly blended country and folk into a raucous good time, and a time to make you think. Her debut album is titled Stuff We Leave Behind. The players that she enlisted to be on the album is a who’s who of Cincinnati local talent whom are: Rachel Rose, Amy Cluxton, Laura Linville, Abby Hine, Brian Olive, Royal Holland, Eric Cronstein, Andy Cook, Ricky Nye, Frontier Folk Nebraska, Mike Ingram, Mark Utley, Jeff Meeker, Sharon Udoh, and as Jasmine put it “maybe a whole other village of people.” What shines through is Jasmine’s voice, and you can hear it in the songs this was the culmination and now it is time to leave it behind. Jasmine and I had a conversation about the record and few other things and I’ll let her take it from here and give my opinion of the record at the end.
Moose: How did you get your start playing music?
Wonky Tonk: I started playing tunes in high school with a punk rock band called "The Green Angels" with Alex Duckworth (Daap Girls) and Jude MC. At the same time, I wrote some funny tunes for a high school chemistry project which somehow developed from living room Against Me! and Moldy Peaches jams into cowgirl boots and the stage.
Green Angels > Wonky Donkeys > Wonky Tonk
I took "guitar lessons" from this guy rick who had an impressive bald/long red mullet which consisted of a bunch of music theory played on an unplugged red electric ESP (classy). I still have no idea what he was saying.
Moose: whom has been your biggest advocate or supporter or both?
WT: Biggest supported: Law Daddy. The King of Covington. Matthew Robinson. My dad. I have had a world of support but there is something about Wonky Tonk that makes my dad glow and that in turn makes Wonky Tonk grow (ha-ha, see what I did there?!)
Moose: What drew your ear to this style of music?
WT: I have no clue. I love punk and mosh pits. I started playing and people said "you play folk." I was like what the heck is that, so I googled "folk" and started listening and well, the rest is in the songs.
Moose: Not delving into each song in particular, but from where could you say you got most of your inspiration for the album?
WT: The album is about all the things that meant the world to me at one point which are no longer pertinent and now have become stuff that is taking up too much space and needs to be left behind. You know when you go through your keepsake box and there is a napkin with a note scribbled or a nondescript show wristband and you are like, I have absolutely no idea what this is - but when you put it in there it was this thing that meant everything, a milestone. It is now stuff. Let it go.
Moose: Who played on the record with you, and where was it recorded?
WT: Are you asking this to torture me?
Rachel Rose, Amy Cluxton, Laura Linville, Abby Hine, Brian Olive, Royal Holland, Eric Cronstien, Andy Cook, Ricky Nye, Frontier Folk Nebraska, Mike Ingram, Mark Utley, Jeff Meeker, Sharon Udoh - and maybe a whole other village of people. It was not me who made this record, it was us - Cincinnati's amazing community of talented and gracious musicians. It was recorded in Mike Ingram's living room, Eric Cronstein's Tone Shoppe, Orangudio in Columbus, and Brain Olive's The Diamonds.
Moose: With the album complete what is next for you? And why did it take so long? (this second question is mainly for me)
WT: The album is finished, now that it is finished everything can begin. Relentless tour and more albums! I am working on a new music video for "Denmark" with Dave Morrison as well as a new single from the upcoming album. Why did it take so long? Wonky Tonk started, well, I have no idea why it started. I decided I needed a new hobby so I started emailing all the Cincy venues saying I had a 30-minute set and would like to play. At that point I had no song written. When I got my first booking, was when I wrote my entire set and from there it grew. Somehow people liked it and I was propositioned to record. This was never a reality in my world, the music was kind of a joke too. So with multiple sessions of 6 years I learned to record. Finally. It took so long because until now I had been faking it and I couldn't release a fake because it is forever. It took 6 years to understand what my heart already knew and now it is real and now it is left behind.
Moose: The question I like to ask everyone I interview is: of all things to do, why this? why music? You can do anything; why did you choose music?
WT: The music chose me Moose. It's the way all things good and bad fall out and become something more than "stuff." Music means pain. community. love. loss. suspension. connection. It's what happens when I stop trying and just be.
Wonky Tonk released this album a month or two ago, and she along with all the players and the help made a really great record. Her voice longs for love, but is okay with leaving all this behind and going forward. The feeling from the album I get is one that makes you want to move on and the struggle that lies beneath that. Jasmine’s voice draws you in the way in which the lyrics wrap around the melody is what she does so well. Cannot leave this alone without mentioning all the players on it who took simple songs (voice and acoustic guitar) and helped mold and shape these tunes into something more. The album rocks at times and slows things down with some ballads a mixture that is like a tasty salad with all kinds of goodness. You listen one time through and you get the idea, but that second or third or fourth time different sounds pop or lyrics ring or touch you a little harder.
Wonky Tonk and her brand of folk music will be on a stage near you some time soon. Check her out on Facebook and stay up to date on her live shows. If you see her out, make sure to pick up the album. Wonky Tonk‘s Stuff We Leave Behind is an album worth listening definitely more than once and is an album that has soul. Support local music and check her out.