Exclusive Song Premiere: Roots Rocker JD McPherson Performs Unplugged Version of 'You Must Have Met Little Caroline?' Track
JD McPherson says it's a new experience to be "a professional, touring musician" -- even though he's on his second album.
The Oklahoma roots rocker -- a killer live act who's gifted Billboard with a special unplugged performance of "You Must Have Met Little Caroline?" from his sophomore album Let the Good Times Roll -- drew plenty of critical raves for his 2012 debut, Signs and Signifiers. But he tells us that album is "more of an art project, definitely a labor of love. It was just something I always wanted to do" after spending time teaching art and technology. But after getting his touring sea legs from that project, he went into Let the Good Times Roll wanting to, well, keep the good times rolling.
Watch McPherson perform an unplugged version of "You Must Have Met Little Caroline?," which Billboard is exclusively premiering.
"After playing tons and tons of shows and doing this for a living, it was a different approach," explains McPherson, who holds a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Tulsa. "It was a little more difficult this time around. I would say there was quite a bit of discomfort in making this record. Let's just say the songs were asking for a little more of a daring approach. You become a different person in two, three years, so the songs were a little different than the previous batch. It was a little scary at some point, because some of the stuff is a little unusual, and I didn't know how people were going to react to it. But if I was entirely comfortable the whole time I don't think I would've felt like I was moving forward, you know?"
The 37-year-old McPherson says Let The Good Times Roll, which hit No. 1 on the Heatseekers chart after its Feb. 10 release, was subject to "some push-backs in release dates" and actually could have come out as much as a full year earlier. But, he adds, the album benefited from a little extra time "to make some changes and do what we needed to do. See, I started this so late in the game. I was older than most folks when I hit the road for the first time. We had a real fortunate run with the first record, and I knew the second one, it had to be good. We took quite a bit of time with it. So I'm very, very proud of it, more proud of this record than anything I've ever done."
McPherson plans to be on the road "until the day before the next record comes out," including some summer dates opening for Robert Plant and the Sensational Shape Shifters. But he says that he's "already excited about making a third one. There's already some ideas kind of bubbling that I'm really excited about." And after co-writing the song "Bridge Builder" with the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach, McPherson says he's "looking to collaborate a lot this year and next year."
"I'm just meeting so many cool, interesting people," he says. "I'm looking forward to working with others, whether it's just writing songs or trying other projects." He's already done some things with Nikki Lane and helped produce a new album for the Cactus Blossoms from Minneapolis. He recently met Nicole Atkins and hopes to work with her as well.
"A great way to do that is to actually bring folks out on the road," McPherson says. "I've met some really cool folks I would love to bring on the road and work with them that way. Otherwise it's hard to get together. I just keep meeting folks who are interesting, so who knows what will happen."