Until We Meet Again: Warren Jackson Hearne does L.A.
Warren Jackson Hearne recently described himself to me as “a meandering wanderer,” who is answering his call to head towards California. The singer-songwriter, who has Denton roots that date to before the construction of the courthouse, is moving to the Los Angeles-area come May.
Music is a natural inclination to the Hearne family, and entered Warren’s life at the age of four, when he would record himself singing and playing piano.
“My father and mother were professional musicians touring since the late 60's, I think,” Hearne says. “My grandfather sang shaped-note gospel music with his brothers in a popular quartet in Fort Worth, even singing the bass parton the radio with the Chuck Wagon Gang on an occasion. He taught my aunts and dad to sing in harmony while they travelled to church every Sunday. My son is also a budding musician! I feel like music is something that is habit that is passed down in my family.”
He would go on to pick up the violin, singing, clarinet, bass clarinet, contra-alto clarinet, tenor and alto saxes, percussion, bass, and guitar, starting his first band at the age of 14. Upon setting up at Denton in 2000, he started playing.
“The first week I was here I got a warning from a UNT police officer, for what he called busking (I was simply playing my guitar) across the street from Kharma Cafe, saying that if I ever stepped on UNT property again I would be arrested for trespassing,” Hearne says. “I thought that was pretty hostile and my first thought was to get the hell out of town, but I'm glad I didn’t.”
And the community is certainly glad he didn’t, too. While Hearne is making the long journey out, he plans on coming back to Texas often to build up his followers while keeping his music fresh to audiences around the country.
“The idea is to tour quarterly through Texas and strengthen the areas in-between,” Hearne says. “I think it's a good idea for any musician, especially writers of original music, to travel and even live in different areas throughout their lives. For one, it strengthens and diversifies the fan base, but also breaks up the seeming stagnation that comes from being in one place too long.”
Hearne is looking forward to taking his music to the West Coast, where he feels it does best.
“I'm looking forward to playing more. In Denton [and Dallas/Fort Worth], I feel you can get away with playing once a month to 6 weeks in town before people stop coming out. I feel like I really have to hit the road to play as much as I want to around here. In Los Angeles alone, you can play as much as you like in the different neighborhoods, from what I've seen and been told by other musicians, booking agents, and club owners, not to mention the other areas close by.”
If Hearne has noticed anything in the Denton music scene that makes it unique, it’s the ability of many musicians and groups to push their sound, and the openness of their audiences to those new approaches and ideas.
“I'm always telling folks on the road about the diversity of music that comes out of Denton,” Hearne says. “Sure, there is your middle of the road rock, country, pop, etc., but some folks in Denton aren't afraid to create their own sound and really experiment with what people are willing to experience. And sometimes the crowds here aren't afraid to listen. I love when musicians write for themselves and rather than sacrifice their creative vision to fit into a popular style or sound to get a few more folks to buy their record. I've seen a lot of bands take a lot of chances with their musicality in Denton as opposed to other places.”
Before Hearne leaves, he promises that more gigs are on the way. Be sure to check him out at the inaugural Denton Folk Festival this Friday at 9:30 p.m. at Jagoe House.
Photo by Marcus Junius Law
Header image design by Christopher Rodgers