Jason Jennings (Jon Oliva’s Pain) has been staying busy during his down-time from touring with Jon Oliva. After arriving back home late last year following the conclusion of the “Storytellers” tour with Oliva, Jennings wasted no time heading back into the studio to wrap up production of his up-coming CD, “Great Beyond.”
Aside from Jennings playing all the bass and rhythm guitar parts on the CD, “Great Beyond” will feature an “all-star” lineup of veteran Tampa Bay musicians including Jon Oliva, Jerry Outlaw, Chris Kinder, Pat Buffo, John Spinelli, and the late Matt LaPorte... just to name a few.
“Although it’ll be released simply under “Jason Jennings,” it’s really quite a tapestry of Tampa Bay talent. The musicians involved are the cream of the crop—twenty or so of them, in fact—from Jon Oliva all the way down the food chain to... well... me. I wrote all of the songs and played rhythm guitar and bass on every track, and for these extremely generous and superlatively talented folks to step up and step on into my studio dreamscape like they did was a wonderful experience for me. Hopefully, it was for them too.” - Jason Jennings
“Great Beyond” has been a year in the making. Jennings first started work on the new CD back in April 2013, choosing Sweet Spot Studios in Largo to record at.
“I recorded the CD at Sweet Spot Studio in Largo, FLorida, with Jim Fox (Worlds Divide) at the helm as engineer and co-producer. Chris Kinder (Jon Oliva’s Pain, Jon Oliva’s Storytellers) handled the mastering. But part of the reason it’s taken this long to get this disc to completion has been the simple fact that these folks all have other musical agendas to contend with. It’s not at all like there was a record company budget to work with where I could just book a block of time and record the entire disc from start to finish. Frankly, if I had used a core band I don’t think this disc would be remotely as cool as it is.” - Jason Jennings
Jennings has been receiving much praise and support from those who have heard advanced recordings from the new CD.
“I did, in fact, play some preliminary mixes for Jon Oliva before we headed out for the “Storytellers Tour” in November, 2013. Jon was sufficiently blown away, and I was extremely flattered by that. He has offered me his endorsement in whatever capacity it should be requested, in an effort to get this collection of songs to as many ear lobes as we can.” - Jason Jennings
Though Jennings is confident in the songs that are featured on the new CD, he is also a 30+ year veteran of the Tampa Bay music scene, and is familiar with how difficult it is for original artists in the area. Artists that come out of the Tampa Bay area, especially in the hard rock or metal genre, seem to always have a much stronger following over in Europe then they do here in their home country... or even their hometown. This has left many fans dumbfounded, and many Tampa Bay musicians frustrated.
“I hate to say it, but I will... I expect it [“Great Beyond” CD] to be greeted with the usual complacency I find common in America these days, quite frankly. After all, it’s not born of the “Clear Channel Formulas for Success/Rules of Engagement” brochure most bands in the U.S. seem to follow. But in Europe, and the United Kingdom, people seem to be VERY interested. But I do hope I can find a few new American friends out there willing to prove me wrong!” - Jason Jennings
Aside from the new CD and touring with Jon Oliva, Jennings has been busy with other projects as well.
“Beyond the CD, I’ve been working a bit with my old partner Chris Tripp in duo or trio settings. We do everything from Elvis to now... and we have an enormous amount of fun in doing so. Generally we perform as a duo... as Tripp2 [Tripp Squared], but we also play trio gigs as Tripp3 [Tripp Cubed]. Beyond that, I’m openly taking on side gigs for fun and profit. I left the classic rock band I helped make popular, Doobius Arbuckle, after three and a half years due to a lack of focus and musical stagnation. I’m about fifty-cents more broke for it, but I have the necessary peace of mind it takes to move forward as an over-all result.” - Jason Jennings
So what is in the future for Jennings?
“This last year was a reward, in that the inspiration I found in recording with all of these brilliant musicians has given me the confidence to continue working in this direction. I still have a lot of material that I’d like to experience bringing to life, in terms of doing more recording—and I’m still writing new stuff whenever the lightning strikes in that direction.. So far, anyone who has heard advance tracks from the “Great Beyond” disc has been super-supportive, and the musicians who recorded with me have insisted on being notified immediately if we decide to go into the ring for ‘Round Two.’ I can only hope for nothing less and that we’ll go back into sessions! As for the future... I’m always waiting for that call from Mr. Oliva, telling me it’s time to suit up for battle. Storytellers? Pain? ANYTHING I can do in ANY of Jon Oliva’s programs is my first and foremost musical concern. Those guys are family to me.” - Jason Jennings
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