JJ Shiplett is a funny man, from the advice column on his website, to his “everyday songwriting” techniques. But there are also a lot of well-intentioned meaningful things that appear amongst his projects.
“I get emails all the time from people, 80% of them being jokes. Like, I can’t give you advice on your actual sex life.” Sometimes there’s so much emphasis in roots on the wisdom of life experience and hardship, but artists like Shiplett are still young and the advice he’s giving is more like what someone would get from “their cool, drug addict older brother,” he laughs.“Terrible advice… I try not to take music so intensely. I love music and it’s been a long journey for me. There’s times when I want to write a sad song and there’s times when I want to have fun and getting people dancing.”
His comparably sincere lyrics are thought-provoking and he’s helped people get involved with music through past efforts like The Hus (Daniel Huscroft) and Banger (Shiplett) Society, which gave kids access to good quality instruments. “It’s like hockey, kids don’t play anymore because their parents can’t afford to pay the fees.” The music programs in schools are also falling apart and many studies have shown that the tangible progress and excitement of creative outlets raises grades in other areas.
Shiplett’s bio describes him as a “songwriter in every situation” and I ask him to elaborate. “Well, I spend a lot of the day making sure I’m always singing about anything that’s happening around me. I’ll be driving and I’ll have road rage and I’ll just sing the person a song: ‘ASSHOOOLE,’” he chimes. “It’s not something that you turn on and off, it’s something that you do all the time, it’s who you are.” When he’s with friends, they make things up on the spot and “most times they end up pretty country. Sometimes we freestyle rap, depending on the mood.”
He filled the Ironwood last time he played and, this time, he’ll be backed by the five-piece Red River Rebellion, sharing a bill with Huscroft and playing his more upbeat songs. “Daniel’s a really good buddy with a lot of the guys in my band, so it’ll be a fun night — might get a little bit out of control at times.”
Catch their show on the 11th at Palomino, and check out Huscroft and Shiplett’s side project Cowboys and Indians’ destructive music video, “It’s a Wonderful World.”
By Cait Lepla