Jesse Dayton’s story reads like a who’s who of American music. Want to talk about being “born into it?” Imagine a 15-year-old kid born and raised on the Texas/Louisiana border, playing his Telecaster guitar in all-black zydeco bands in Lake Charles, Louisiana; honky-tonk country bands with members left over from the Starday Records’ George Jones days around his hometown of Beaumont, Texas. Dayton was underage and sneaking into night clubs to play shows ‘til 3AM with east Texas blues legend Little Mack Minor (cousin of Lightning Hopkins and Mance Liscomb), until eventually he was spotted by Gulf Coast hit producer Huey P. Meaux. Mr. Meaux approached Dayton and asked him to record with zydeco star Rockin Dopsey at Houston’s hit factory, Sugarhill Studios. And the story just keeps getting better.
As he entered early adulthood, Dayton began packing clubs and theaters on the Texas scene with his trio in Houston, Dallas, and Austin. He recorded his first solo record titled Raisin’ Cain for Justice Records with featured guest luminaries, Doug Sahm, Flaco Jiminez and Johnny Gimble. It hit Number 1 on the Americana Radio Charts. Jesse toured around the world opening for punk legends Social Distortion, The Supersuckers and X. Jesse is then asked to help arrange and play guitar on The Supersuckers biggest selling record, “Must’ve Been High.” While in Nashville doing press, Waylon Jennings spotted him on the Nashville TV show ‘Crook & Chase’ and called Jesse out of the blue at his hotel to play lead guitar on his record, “Right for The Time.” Dayton blew off his flight back to Austin and headed to Woodland Studios where Waylon had sent a car for him and knocks on the door. Johnny Cash answers it and says, “we’ve been waiting for you.” This led to Dayton recording guitars on records and film with Cash, Ray Price, Willie Nelson, Johnny Bush and Glen Campbell.
While Dayton is ignored by mainstream country radio, his cult following in the US and Europe continued to grow. A whole new crowd of Americana listening room folks, young college alternative rock fans & disenfranchised aging punk rockers embrace him.
Just when you thought the story couldn’t get any cooler, horror director/rockstar, Rob Zombie heard Dayton’s record at a party, hunted him down, and asks him to write and record a soundtrack for his film ‘The Devils Rejects’ which lands him in Rolling Stone magazine. Then they co-write songs for Rob’s follow up franchise film, ‘Halloween 2’ (which Dayton appears in playing the part of character ‘Captain Clegg’.) Then Dayton writes and records songs for a third Rob Zombie film (this one animated) titled, ’The Haunted World of El Super Beasto.’ After years of pounding the pavement day-in and day-out, Jesse bought a house in Austin, and headed back on tour in his 40-foot redneck RV with his band of hillbilly punks.
Dayton has had over 50 songs licensed to film and television and even ended up writing and directing a horror film shot in New Orleans called ‘Zombex’ starring Malcolm McDowell, Sid Haig, Lew Temple from Walking Dead and John Doe from the band X. The film was sold to a distributor and got a theatrical release. After stockpiling songs during his film work, he heads into the studio to record “The Revealer” (back where it all started at Sugarhill Studios in Houston), and the first single “Daddy Was A Badass” becomes a hit on SiriusXM’s Outlaw Country channel. As this is happening, Dayton gets a call from the aforementioned, John Doe and is asked to fill in for guitarist Billy Zoom on 40-city U.S. tour with the original line-up of iconic punk band X while Zoom was taking time away from the band to undergo cancer treatment.
Since then, Dayton has been on tour non-stop for four years all over the US and Europe. June of 2018 saw the release of Dayton’s latest studio record The Outsider, which was recorded while on tour in Atlanta, Denver, Nashville and Austin and mixed by Grammy Award winning engineer/producer Vance Powell (who has worked with the likes of Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton, Jason Isbell and Jack White). About The Outsider Dayton says, “It’s a lot like The Revealer, but even more stripped down with some sweet acoustic guitar songs and some raw electric guitar work”. All the influences are there; the George Jones-inspired singing on “Changin’ My Ways,” the Outlaw country twang of Waylon and Jerry Reed on “Belly of the Beast,” the angst and energy of The Clash and X on hillbilly protest song “ Charlottesville,” and the deep east Texas blues and Cajun rockabilly of “May Have To Do It” and “Hurtin Behind The Pine Curtain.” While there are many different sides to him musically, this all rolls into one big hybrid that Jesse Dayton has been honing for over 20 years.