Jonathan Scott: making Manch country
NHCMA sweeper likes to rock it up
By Bill Copeland firstname.lastname@example.org
Jonathan Scott recently won five New Hampshire Country Music Awards.
He sets himself apart from other local bands by getting off the stage and going into the audience with his wireless microphone and singing to them and with them.
“I’ve always said that I would never be one of these singers that would just stay up on stage like a little stick figure and just sing,” Scott said. “I want to entertain people. I love to interact with the folks.”
Scott’s low tenor makes some wonder where the New Hampshire native learned to sound so Southern.
“I don’t really know how,” he said. “I didn’t purposely develop anything. I just sing. I always sing with the radio, CD, tapes. It’s always been a hobby of mine. If you do something long enough, you become proficient at it, I guess. Country is more suited for my voice. It’s hard for me to sing with real heavy rock and roll, the stuff I liked to listen to on the side. I’ve got more of that low voice.”
Scott grew up with rock and country in the 1980s. He started singing as a child, listening to George Strait, Mickey Gilley, Conway Twitty and Willie Nelson.
His next step might be to tackle writing his own songs. For now he’s content to play covers of Garth Brooks, Trace Adkins, and many other country singers and some rock and roll tunes. A cover demo has been his calling card.
“A couple of years ago,” he said, “I went to a recording studio and I just did like a CD of eight cover tunes. In a few months I will be going down to Nashville and doing some demos. Much of that stuff already started even before the awards show. There are some folks down in Nashville we’ve been working with the last couple of months.”
Local country music fans usually limit themselves to radio and CDs, since country venues would seem to be few and far in between. Yet Jonathan Scott and The Blazing Hearts have a very busy schedule. He’s been managed by Urban Express Productions for three years, and he’s had his band for the last two. They perform in New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine and Massachusetts.
“We play Moose lodges, American Legions, different clubs. We play small places as well,” he said. Circle 9 Ranch in Epsom is one of his regular rooms. “A lot of people really love country nowadays. It’s really taken off, especially with the new country, which is what I love to sing. Very few places are traditional that just want to hear straight Hank Williams Sr. or Merle Haggard. We throw a couple of those in there as well.”
Scott and his Blazing Hearts were the third band to usher in the new Thursday night country music series at Whippersnappers in Londonderry last month. Scott said the owner had planned on rebooking them before they had even finished their first set.
“It’s a fun place, too,” Scott said. “I was told by the owner himself that there’s a pretty good crowd for a band that’s never been there before. We get told that quite a bit — ‘You guys are really good for a first night playing somewhere where you’ve never played before.’”
Scott was born and raised in Manchester; during his sixth-grade year his family moved to Thornton, N.H., and he attended Lincoln High School for two years. During his junior year his family moved to Kansas, and Scott finished high school there. He went to a two-year vocational college to study business, marketing and sales. He also briefly studied criminal justice. Going into music, he gave up his goal of becoming a businessman.
“I’ve gave up a lot to pursue this dream of mine. So far, I’ve been fortunate enough that a lot of good things have happened,” he said.
His Blazing Hearts bandmates are something he feels lucky about. He cried when he accepted his Band of the Year award at the recent award show, raw emotion erupting from the bond he formed with them.
“You’re like a family. You love everybody,” Scott said. “You work hard. We spend a lot of time with each other doing what you love to do. I have to brag about them. Those guys work their butts off to sound as good as they possibly can for having only three instruments. Everybody I’ve ever had in my band are all rock and roll people, so maybe that’s what helps us to get that new country sound.”
The bass player is simply known as CJ.
“She’s from Milton, New Hampshire. She was in the army and the air force. She used to be the lead singer in a rock and roll band. I want to try to get her to sing some songs too,” Scott said.
Guitarist Nick Fowler is a Manchester music scene veteran. “Nick’s been with me pretty much the whole way. He lives in Manchester. He’s been around a very long time. Nick’s been in lots of rock bands. Years ago he actually got to play for some famous people like Eric Carmen and Chubby Checker.”
Drummer Ray Saunders also uses a nickname — “He likes to go by ‘Ray-Ray.’”
Nicole Nanette sings backing vocals, since it’s hard for Scott to handle all the vocals all night long.
As for his future plans: “I want to be a rock star,” he said, laughing. “No, I’m joking. I want us to be successful. Basically, I want to go to Nashville. I would love to have my band with me,” Scott said.
Where Eagles dare
Jonathan Scott and the Blazing Hearts will play at the Raymond, N.H., VFW on Sat., Dec. 15, and at Eagles Club in Concord on New Year’s Eve, both shows beginning at 8 p.m. See www.urbanexpressprod.com.