Jon Wolfe
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Jon Wolfe

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"Hungry like a Wolfe"

Jon Wolfe is a fairly new face on the local scene, but already he has much of Houston's country-music community behind him.
Wolfe's debut album, Almost Gone, was released in November. Produced by local favorite John Evans, the disc features hard-core country tunes penned by Wolfe and Evans and one co-written by Clay Farmer, another Houston musician.

Jon Wolfe plays at some of Houston's top honky-tonks, including Firehouse Saloon, the Continental Club and Blanco's Bar and Grill. Wolfe is managed by Trey Strait (you may have heard of his country-singing uncle, George) and is represented by Anthony "Gino" Genaro, whose client roster includes Texas stalwarts Aaron Watson and Owen Temple. And in January, Wolfe even played a private party for Uncle George. "It's all independent. We're local. Everybody in Houston was super open-arms with me," says Wolfe, 29, who lives in The Woodlands area. "This is my full-time deal now. This is how I make my living."
In person, Wolfe has an easy smile and a friendly, handsome face. Pieces of dark hair poke out of his cowboy hat, and he laughs a lot as he talks. Garth Brooks, Chris LeDoux, George Strait, Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard top his quick-pick list of favorites and influences.

Almost Gone typifies the working-man sound made famous by Wolfe's heroes, with just enough of a fresh, youthful edge. Vocally, Wolfe recalls Strait and Clint Black at his early best during Twelve Off Twelve On, Sleepin' With the Bottle and standout track Tennessee Whiskey.

Crooning country tunes, however, wasn't always in the stars. An oil trader with British Petroleum, Wolfe was transferred here from Chicago in 2003; he roomed with musician Hayes Carll for a while. He has a degree in finance from Colorado State University and also dabbles in painting and drawing.
An Alabama concert changed everything. Wolfe and a friend attended a Texas show featuring the country-music supergroup two years ago and got invited onto the tour bus. "(Bassist) Teddy Gentry came on the bus, and John Rich, who now does the Big & Rich thing, he was on the bus. I just listened to those guys play their music," Wolfe says."I probably had a few beers, enough to where I grabbed the guitar and said, 'Hey, sing one with me.' Jon Rich harmonized with me. I thought, 'Man, I think I can do this.' I don't know what I'm waiting on. That was a big turning point for me."

The energy and elements of the stock market remain exciting to Wolfe, and he still finds much of his training useful in his new field.
"I've used that probably more now than I did before. It's running a business," Wolfe says about his career as a working musician. "During the day, talking to your managers and looking at these opportunities and trying to sell your product — which is me — to venues. And then, at night, switching gears and being the performer, getting creative."
That persistence earned Wolfe a weekly slot at Kay's Lounge early in his career, and he's since played some of Houston's top honky-tonks, including Firehouse Saloon, the Continental Club and Blanco's Bar and Grill.

Upcoming are an opening slot for Western swingers Asleep at the Wheel in Oklahoma and a date with country heartthrob Dierks Bentley in June.
While Wolfe has been meeting with Nashville songwriters and producers to gauge their interest in his music, he has no immediate plans to leave Texas — or his tried-and-true cowboy sound — behind.
"We're walking a thin line there, trying to get some exposure in Nashville and still stay true to what we're doing," Wolfe says. "The next album will be more evolved from the first one — musically, lyrically and productionwise — but we're staying (really country). If that sinks me or takes me to the top, it doesn't matter. I know I'm happy with the integrity of what I'm doing."

Wolfe plans to release a new single from his next album by late 2005. Expect it — and anything else Wolfe does — to remain entrenched in the time-honored country sound that seems to inform every aspect of his nature.
"I think it's one of those things where you've got it in your heart the whole time, and you're not listening to yourself," he says. "That's really what it boils down to. I should've listened to myself a lot earlier, but I use the experiences I've gotten."
- By JOEY GUERRA Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

"Country singer returns to Tulsa for hometown CD release"

He's getting plenty of work around Houston, where he now lives, but when it came time for his first CD release party, country singer-songwriter Jon Wolfe wanted to come home.

"I'm proud of what I'm doing and where I'm from," he said in a recent telephone interview, "and I wanted to debut my album in the Tulsa area. I've never played Tulsa, so this is a big thing for me."
Wolfe was born in Tulsa but grew up in Miami, Okla. His stepfather, Rick Sharp, played bass in the house band for the Grand Lake Opry, an outfit that Included a future member of the superstar group Rascal Flatts, Plcher's Joe Don Rooney.
"That's what turned me on to country," said Wolfe. "When I was younger, I listened to jazz and other stuff. My stepdad started playing at the Grand Lake Opry when I was about 18 years old, and Joe Don and I grew up together. We played basketball against each other, you know -- that Miami-Picher rivalry. We weren't bosom buddies or anything, but we were good friends."

Although Wolfe was pretty much surrounded by country music at the time, he didn't start taking guitar lessons until he'd graduated from high school and moved to Texas, where he was working as a camp counselor. Then, while attending Colorado State University, he began doing what he called "a lot of pigeonholing, just sitting in my living room and playing." A stint at a Colorado guest ranch got him out of his living room and up on stage with his guitar -- the first time, he said, that he'd played in front of people.
''Then, in 2001, against the wishes of all my friends who wanted me to be a country singer," he noted with a laugh, "I took a job with British Petroleum, and they moved me to Chicago."
After a couple of years there, he moved to Houston, where he became acquainted with several people in the music business. Because of those connections, he got to go backstage at an Alabama concert, an experience that once again aimed him toward country music.
"I was on the bus, and (Alabama's) Teddy Gentry came back, John Rich (now of Big & Rich) was there, and I got to play some songs with 'em," he remembered. "What struck me about that night was that I left the bus thinking, 'I can sing with these guys. They write these great songs, and they seem very normal. Maybe I should give this a go.' "
Soon, he was writing four or five songs a week and trying them out at Kay's Lounge, a Houston nightspot. Eventually, he attracted the attention of singer-songwriter-producer John Evans, whose resume includes work with such Texas music stars as Cory Morrow, Billy Joe Shaver and Flaco Jiminez.
"He came into the bar where I was playing and said, 'I've been wanting to talk to you. How many songs have you got?' " recalled Wolfe. "I told him, and he said, 'Want to cut a record?' And I said, 'Heck yeah.' "
The two ended up co-writing several songs as they went into pre-production on the disc. The result is "Almost Gone," the collection of well-written and well-performed hard-country numbers that comprises Wolfe's new disc. And now, in addition to the debut CD, Wolfe has a new management contract and a band that's been working with him since May.
"We've been gigging all over the Houston area, in College Station, Dallas, in Austin," he said. "The country-music scene isn't as saturated in Houston as it is in Austin, it's not as big, but it's a good, solid market."
He hopes that Tulsa will be solid for him, as well.
"I'd like to do a show in Tulsa every two and a half months or so,"he said. ''This is the first step. People will get to hear me, to know me a little, on Thursday night. I want to start establishing a relationship there."

Copvright 2004, World Publishing Co. All rights reserved.
- JOHN WOOLEY World Scene Writer Tulsa World (Final Home Edition), Page D3 of Music reviews, Enterta


"Almost Gone" Independently Released in November of 2004

New Release Due out 2010



The best introduction to Jon Wolfe is the basic yet not so simple fact that he’s a country singer and songwriter. Country music, as it was, is and always should be, with boots firmly standing on the bedrock of tradition and an eye focused on taking it into the future. And that, as any fan of true country knows, is no simple proposition.

At heart, it’s all about being a great singer and storyteller. Hence the other best introduction to Jon Wolfe is to hear him sing and share the stories in the songs he performs and writes. And to learn his life story — from small town Oklahoma to the bustling big city commodities trading floor to the dancehalls and honky-tonks of Texas and Oklahoma to a Music Row record deal, to give the highlights — and witness his faith in the power of music and determination to touch the hearts of others with something that means so much to him.
It’s world class country music from the American heartland, informed by the great singers that inspired Wolfe — like George Strait, Garth Brooks (a fellow Okie), Clint Black, Merle Haggard, Alan Jackson and Dwight Yoakam, to name a few — yet fired by his own contemporary energy and vision.

It takes a unique conviction to give up a lucrative career as an oil commodities trader for British Petroleum, as Wolfe did, to pursue the dream of becoming a country singer. But music has been a vital force in Wolfe’s life from early on, and it’s already made him a rising star in the dancehalls and honky-tonks of Texas and Oklahoma, earning him nominations for Best Country Act in both Houston and Tulsa, and the opportunity to open shows for acts like Haggard, Yoakam and Asleep at the Wheel and even play for one of his heroes, George Strait.

Wolfe was born in Tulsa and grew up in Miami, Oklahoma, and came to know the tragedy that is part and parcel of country music’s thematic tradition at the age of six years old when his father died. He was raised in a Pentecostal Church household that “was a real good, traditional home,” as he recalls, and got his first exposure to music in church and at home from the records of such master singers as Frank Sinatra and Harry Connick, Jr. “I just fell in love with that stuff.”

By the time Wolfe reached his teens, his stepfather was playing bass in the house band at Oklahoma’s Grand Lake Opry, and country music hit Jon in a way that spoke to his soul. “What took hold with me was the lyrical thing and the vocal thing,” he says. “Because of my life experiences up to that point and since then, I found an emotional connection with country.”

Singing country quickly became Wolfe’s goal in life. “It was the only thing I wanted to do, and I had absolutely no idea how to do it,” he explains. “As a kid growing up in a small Oklahoma town, country music is probably one of the only things that you think you might be able to do.” The rise of fellow Oklahoman Garth Brooks made it seem possible. And over the succeeding years Wolfe watched his friend and contemporary Joe Don Rooney, who played guitar with his stepfather at the Grand Lake Opry, also rise to the top of the country charts as a member of Rascal Flatts. “I began to think: maybe this is humanly possible.”

But first Wolfe took a stab at attending Bible college with the goal of becoming a youth pastor, and then worked as a counselor at a Christian summer camp in Texas, picking up the guitar and taking lessons from teacher John Defore. A move to Fort Collins, Colorado steeped him in country’s Western traditions and gave Wolfe an opportunity to pursue such outdoor passions as rock climbing, snowboarding and fly-fishing. He also started performing at a dude ranch in Loveland where he worked as a ranch hand.

Wolfe returned to college at Colorado State University and earned a finance degree, which landed him a job in Chicago as a hedge trader for British Petroleum. After his fast-paced days at the commodities exchange, Wolfe spent his evenings playing guitar, singing and learning and writing songs at home or out at the open mike nights at local clubs. “I was the only guy on the trading floor in cowboy boots,” he recalls. “I loved the excitement and the risk it involved.”

Wolfe transferred to a job with BP in Houston, knowing it was an ideal place to get serious about his dream of singing and playing country music. Not long after arriving there, he befriended a woman who worked for the city’s top concert promoter, and tagged along with her one night to a show by Alabama, where he ended up on a tour bus trading songs with Teddy Gentry and John Rich of Big & Rich.

“I was just some random guy drinking beer on the bus. But I walked off that bus thinking, I can do this, no doubt. I have to do this,” Wolfe recalls. “Sometimes you have to throw caution to the wind and get after it, and put it all on the line.”

Within six months he left his job and was gigging in area nightclubs. After he met popular Houston singer-songwriter John Evans at a club one night, Evans