Jeremy 'JD' Lyon has been playing classic rock tunes on his guitar since as soon as his hands were able. As part of the band Tumbleweed Wanderers, JD crafts perfectly upbeat catchy tunes that are entrenched in the musicians he grew up loving and his own signature style. With Tumbleweed Wanderers, JD has toured nationwide, released three EP's as well as two full length records and shared the stage with the likes of The Flaming Lips, Dr. Dog and more.
JD is available for your private event and can be seen in action at the Ivy Hill Entertainment Artist Showcase on March 8th, 2016 at PianoFight in San Francisco. In the meantime, check out our interview with him below!
What was it that first drew you to playing music?
I picked up the guitar at age 7 at the suggestion of my first grade teacher, Ms. Breland, and never stopped. Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen were my earliest influences, and my guitar teacher got me into Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, and the Rolling Stones. In high school and college I got into the more alternative stuff like Radiohead, Sigur Ros, Beck, My Morning Jacket, and Wilco. Influences aside, I've always seen music as a unique way to connect. It quickly became a vehicle for me to reach people I wouldn't otherwise talk to, as well as a good outlet for me as a kid. It was almost like keeping a diary, except then you'd perform your diary in front of friends and family and feel very, very self-conscious.
Do you do anything to fund your music habit, or do you make all of your money that way?
This is the first year I've been able to support myself exclusively through music. I teach, do private and corporate events, and perform my original music as well as play in other projects with friends. Last year I worked five jobs: bar-back, courier, soccer referee, teacher at a summer camp, and I picked up and mailed NorCal shirts for my buddy's older brother's company up in Eureka, on top of releasing an LP and doing a two-month national tour. I spent 2011-2013 full time with Tumbleweed Wanderers, touring heavily and living with Zak, the bass player's parents when we were home.
What does a day in the life of JD Lyon look like?
Wake up, drink coffee, squeeze some fresh juice, catch up on emails, practice for upcoming gigs, write music, drink more coffee, leave the house around 1:30. Teach until 7. Go to a rehearsal or a show. Get home late, housemates are asleep. Have a beer. Netflix and chill.
Your band Tumbleweed Wanderers has released several EPs and an LP and toured all over the place. What are some of your favorite bands that you’ve shared the stage with?
We've been fortunate enough to play some festivals with a bunch of my favorite bands, including Jim James, Flaming Lips, Wilco, Dr. Dog, and Delta Spirit. My favorite band we've toured with would have to be Greensky Bluegrass. We spent two months on the road with those guys in 2014 and I grew to love their music and, moreover, was just super impressed with their professionalism, their team, and the way they took care of everyone in their crew. They'd built up a pretty huge following through more than a decade of heavy touring and making a bunch of records. They invested a lot into their production, with a great light show on top of having their sound perfectly dialed. Everyone that worked with them loved their music. And, despite the ability to pack theaters nationally without ever having a label, they had zero ego, would vary the set greatly night to night, often spontaneously, and were all killer musicians and singers. They invited us to sing "Let's Get It On" for their encore in Michigan, their home state, despite having never played that song or rehearsed it with us. It scared the shit out of me but it was so much fun.
What have been some big career highlights for you?
I've had to pinch myself when we've played venues that we used to busk outside of, specifically Outside Lands, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, The Fox, The Fillmore, and The Independent. The first couple years we started out we'd busk shows three or four times a week, whenever there was a gig that might vibe with our music. To get to play inside those same venues and festivals felt like a concrete way of showing that our hard work had payed off.
Whenever we've played in New York City it's been a highlight. We've never flown to any gigs, always driven, so when we get to the Big Apple it feels like a milestone because we've driven across the country. We also have a pretty solid fan base there, it's our second biggest market after the Bay Area, so there's always a great energy in the room. If only it was closer!
Finally, the moments I remember are our big hometown shows when I look out in the crowd and see hundreds of people I've known from all parts of my life, from kindergarten to college, family friends to fellow musicians. It's such a trip to see all these people who, for the most part, don't know each other, and realize you're the one bringing them together. It's a rare and powerful thing to have everyone you love in the same place at the same time. Most people probably only get to experience it at their wedding, or maybe a graduation or two, but that's one of the best parts about being a musician to me.
Aside from the Ivy Hill Entertainment Artist Showcase, do you have any other shows coming up?
I just started hosting a monthly songwriter's circle at Awaken Cafe. The first one is March 11th at 8PM featuring Sam Chase (The Sam Chase and the Untradtitional), Lia Rose (Built For The Sea), and Mike Ballan (We Arsons). Tickets are $13 in advance, $15 at the door.
What are you looking forward to in 2016?
I'm a set of speakers and a reel of tape away from starting my analog home studio. I'm looking forward to writing and recording, collaborating with more people, and hopefully getting back on the road at the end of the year.