The Willies are a Nashville based Roots band conjuring the spirit of that time before trad jazz & dirty fingernail blues were the background music for baristas and doggy bakeries. But as veterans of the American underground, the Willies aren’t interested in caricaturing the rough and tumble legacy of 20’s jazz & blues... they embody that energy. And these genres are only starting points... vintage bottles to contain several lifetimes of recent experience in the jazz, blues, rockabilly and punk underworld.
Singer Jen Jones commandeered a road unworthy van and spent years shuffling musicians and authentic jazz from NYC to California. Dave Willie and Devin Pena broke ground and broke bones in the embryonic hardcore punk scene. Carco Clave spent decades eating his Thanksgiving dinners out of paper bags while backing Asleep at the Wheel, Little Jimmy Dickens and Chuck Meade. Wunderkind Jeremiah Cline cut his teeth in the subterranean world of urban hillbilly music. And Ben Clark comes to the party as a trained jazzbo with a refined & brutal trumpet attack.
With the Willies punk meets ragtime. Or trad jazz is driven by a drugged ska beat. Oi gang vocals accompany the blues or a stride piano compliments an elaborate revenge fantasy. Banjos chunk. A trumpet blares. The vocals pour out sultry, or comic, or crooning or just plain pissed off while the rhythm section thumps with the pounding repetition of a bloated corpse slapping against the hull of a riverboat.
Classically trained pianist, and teenage runaway, Jen started as a jazz singer, in New Orleans, and at Berklee, Boston; But she wound up fronting Femme Fatales, a beastie-girls-with-instruments band, who opened for Gwar and Primas, as well as starting her own label “Stupid Records’, in SF. After moving to NYC Jen squeeked out a living playing piano, and collecting royalties for her songwriting (one a major label release). The fromation of her swing band The Camaros brought the first national attention, thanks to constant touring. “Take it from me kiddies, this band kicks ass. They are a high energy, hard hitting, rockabilly, swing, punk mutation that will leave you drooling for more." (NINEVOLT) "The Camaros flaunt a brand of sass that evokes Wanda Jackson." (ATOMIC)."The Camaros not only do it right, they do it like Eddie Cochran and a Young Johnny Cash taking Patsy Cline on a drunken ramble through the honky tonks of Memphis." (PERFORMING SONGWRITER. They shared the stage with Big Bad Voo Doo Daddy and enjoyed great sales on 4 CDs releases. Jen landed in Nashville, did a residency at Layla's, and met Dave. Together they founded The Willies, the perfect vehical for all inflences, and a great songwriting team.
Dave Willie began his musical wanderings as a teenager in the early 80’s American hardcore punk scene. The baby faced ‘punk provocateur‘ (Scene..) fronted the Nashville-based thrash band the Committee for Public Safety. For his efforts Dave received diminished hearing, multiple broken bones and an eventual photo & paragraph in the book ‘American Hardcore : A Tribal History’. For most of the 1980’s Willie was singing for Jet Black Factory.. a band described by the Oxford American as “Southern neo-goth’. The band toured along the east coast extensively, and their records were in heavy rotation on college radio across the country. In the early 90’s Willie was a quick convert to the burgeoning neo-swing scene... forming the aggro-lounge band 9 Parts Devil in 1993.
The Willies are having a great time. You can see it in their live shows. Their raucous stage banter. The playful reworking of traditional standards. But most of all this excitement comes through in their original compositions. This is their first love. This is the place where Willies get to catalog their diverse influence... to construct new wholes from eagerly looking forward but always open to the influence of the ghosts and demons from a wildly entertaining past"