JD and The Straight Shot – 20 Questions JD

JD & The Straight Shot are a New York five-piece steeped in the quiet fire of Americana with distinctive elements of the blues and rustic New Orleans flavored roots music. They have a brand new album ‘Where I’ve Been’ coming out soon and live dates in the UK to support the release this summer. They sat down and took part in one of Pete’s (tailored) twenty questions. Here are there answers…


JD (Vocals/Guitar)

  • Tell me about your new single ‘Better Find A Church’ please
Like many of our songs this one tells a story.This is a tale of recrimination and repentance. Erin and myself sing this in a duet. It has Gospel overtones and its foundation is a strong Bass line by Byron House.
  • An acoustic gem? What song/tune and who by? What’s the appeal?
We have evolved into this acoustic format. While we were on the road ,we would stop by radio stations. We would play a couple songs live and promote that nights gig. They were quick hits and could only be done with a cut down version of the band. (no drums,organ,or electrics). We found that we really liked how our music sounded in that configuration. We began to write to it. The first of that effort is “Better Find a Church”.
  • Your day gig is the executive chairman of Madison Square Gardens in New York, which is known for its music gigs as well as high-profile American sport events. Has there been a standout gig for you during your time there? (I am a huge Billy Joel fan myself and I saw him in London last year. Fantastic songwriter and phenomenal bandleader)
 There have been so many great concerts at MSG. The concerts we put together for 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy were so chock full of iconic talent that you could not take your eyes off the stage even though both shows went for 5+ hours. Billy Joel’s 65th show at the garden was just way too much fun !!!
  • Your favourite song or instrumental (any genre) with the title including the word 1/ ‘One’, 2/ ‘Five’ and ‘Seven’? Explain your choices please
I am not sure if this is what you are asking but…..
1.Love the one your with by CSNY. I have loved this group from day 1. The vocal harmonies are some of the best ever in Rock. Stephen Stills voice is outstanding. The rhythm is contagious. The topic is classic Rock n Roll.
2. Jimmy Buffet’s Cheeseburger in Paradise.  “ I Like mine with Heinz 57 “ ??? It’s not in the title but it is a really fun song. When I saw Jimmy perform this live, he would have all these kids wearing billboards run across the stage when he got to the part that named all the toppings on the burger. Each board had a picture of the ingredient. Those shows were so much fun!!
 Marc Copely (Guitar)
  •  Do you have any favoured stage guitars?

I do! I use one of Jims Collings quite a bit and also a 1957 Gibson j-45 that is an amazing instrument. A producer friend of mine nicknamed it “The Horse”. Ha!

  • What was it like working with former Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh when he produced your last album ‘Where I’ve Been’?

We had a total blast. The music was slamming and the jokes were hilarious. Everything you want on a session.

  • What are your three main aims when performing live?

Really it’s one aim- to give all you have to the people.

  • How significant is Nashville, Tennessee to your musical career and personal journey? 

Well, I tried moving there 18 years ago and was stopped by a near fatal car accident the evening before my move. So, what would normally take a New Yorker 13 hours to drive, took me 18 years. But I finally made it there and am constantly inspired by the rich musical traditional Nashville has as well as all the new, young energy being brought into town. 

 Aidan Dolan (Guitar)

  • Do you have any favoured stage guitars?
Favorite stage guitar- my McPherson acoustic
  • Tell me about your time at New York University and what did you study?
I studied music theory and composition at NYU for my undergrad degree. NYU was a great school for me because of its resourceful pool of teachers that are still very active in the worlds of the professions they teach in, especially the music teachers.
  • What is it like being part of JD and the Straight Shot with your father Jim Dolan?
It is a lot of fun being in JDSS. I probably spend more time with my dad now than most other periods in my life because of the amount of work we do in this band. It is great for that and also the experience of playing with the other talented musicians in the band.
  •  A recording that makes you laugh … intentionally or otherwise! (artist / track / source album)
Song that makes me laugh- ‘Corporal Clegg’ by Pink Floyd
 Byron House (Bass)
  • Do you have any favoured stage basses? What strings do you use?

    With JD and The Straight Shot I play upright bass exclusively. When we play in the Nashville area I use my Czech flatback upright bass, and when traveling I use Jim’s bass, which is a Czech-Ease, made by David Gage. In the last year or so I’ve been using Kaplan strings by D’Addario.My favoured electric basses for stage are various Fender-types, as well as my Epiphone Jack Casady signature model.


  • What was it like growing up in Kentucky?

It was great growing up in the countryside (near Bowling Green), and being close to Nashville as well. It made the choice of which music center to make my home an easy one. Although I started on piano, my first main instrument was 5-string banjo. Growing up in Kentucky definitely put the bluegrass feel in my bones. I also had the benefit of my banjo teacher’s varied musical taste… he turned me onto Hendrix’s Band Of Gypsys, Mahavishnu Orchestra’s Birds Of Fire, and the Woodstock album, as well as Earl Scruggs and Alan Munde.


  • What was it like working with Robert Plant?

To say it was incredible would be an understatement. Robert is such a band guy, and we knew he was always gonna “bring it” whenever we took the stage. It truly warmed my heart that he named Band Of Joy after the band he was in before starting Led Zeppelin… he said our first days in the studio made him feel like he was 17 again, re-experiencing the excitement of just starting in music. It was fabulous seeing so much of the world with Robert and playing for great audiences everywhere we went.

  • Do you have a favourite song you like to perform in JD and The Straight Shot?

Of our originals, I love playing Violet’s Song. I like the changes in the feel and the great storytelling in this one.Right now, Nature’s Way is my favorite cover song to play with our band. It’s fun incorporating a little string section vibe into the intro, and all the vocals sound so great together.

Erin Slaver (Violin)

  • Along with your music your other passion is acting. You had opportunity to play the part of Hayden Panettierre’s back-up singer in ABC’s TV/Music Drama, “Nashville”. What did you learn from that experience?
    I’ve been passionate about music and performing since childhood. Lucky for me, the two have gone hand in hand throughout my career. Growing up, I did tons of theater where at a moments notice, I might go from speaking lines to grabbing my 3/4-sized violin from the wings and playing a solo! As an adult I’d say I’ve had to focus much more on music to reach a professional skill level I can maintain. However, when the opportunity for abc’s ‘Nashville’ came about, I was so thrilled to once again combine both theatrical and musical performance. Being that I live the reality of a touring musician’s life, it’s very interesting to see how its recreated on a set.There’s truly something magical about a live musical performance that television can’t quite capture.
  • Tell me about your time at Stony Brook University please

I look back at my time at Stony Brook with such fondness! Every day I woke up and ultimately had just one responsibility…. to practice!! I could spend all day with my violin, in a practice room, and it was OK!!! now you know; I’m a music nerd…. Stony Brook is where I did my undergrad as well as my first year of my masters. It’s a huge state school in NY, but the music program is its own entity. I chose this school primarily for the faculty. The teachers I was fortunate to study under (Soovin Kim, Phil Setzer) changed my life and I would’ve followed them anywhere. My time was spent like any normal music major I believe… wake up, practice, rehearse, lesson, practice, sleep (and repeat). I loved it.

  • Is there a book or novel that you would like to create songs or the score for? Why is this?

Something by Steinbeck… like “Grapes of Wrath”… it would definitely lend itself to the Americana/country fiddle sound I’d be good at capturing.

  • What do you want an audience to feel/do when they see JD and the Straight Shot live?

Everyone enjoys and processes music in a different way. I would want each listener to enjoy the songs and music we’ve created in whatever way suits them best. My ultimate goal as a musician/performer is to be able to communicate emotions through my music and affect others in a uniquely special way. That’s why I do what I do, and that’s what makes music worth devoting your life to.

Pete Sargeant

JD and The Straight Shot’s “Where I’ve Been” is out now – the forthcoming record (Fall 2015) features the new track “Better Find A Church” produced by Rodney Crowell.

In addition, JD and The Straight Shot will be touring the UK this summer at the following shows:

Sunday 19th July- Sage Summertyne Festival, Gateshead, United Kingdom http://www.sagegateshead.com/event/summertyne-sunday-concourse-stage/ 

Tuesday 21st July- The Half Moon, Putney, London, United Kingdom (Headline Show) http://www.geronimo-inns.co.uk/london-the-half-moon/events/18312 

Wednesday 22nd July- The Maze, Nottingham, United Kingdom (Headline Show) https://www.gigantic.com/jd-the-straight-shot-the-maze-2015-07-22-19-30 

Thursday 23rd July-  The Brook, Southampton United Kingdom (Opening for Big Boy Bloater) http://www.the-brook.com/?p=8906 

Saturday 25th July-  (Outlaw Country Stage) Ramblin Man Fair Festival, Maidstone, Kent, United Kingdom  (Onstage at 1pm) http://www.ramblinmanfair.com/ 


Sunday 2nd August- Southern Fried Festival, Perth, Scotland http://www.horsecross.co.uk/southern-fried-festival 

For more information visit www.jdandthestraightshot.com/