There’s a party going on this weekend in Santa Rosa County, Florida called the Bonfire Jam, and organizers are pulling out all the stops. There will be bull riding, calf roping, and what has been described as the “World’s Largest Redneck Parade.” With that description, who better to be on the talent lineup than the “Redneck Woman” herself, Gretchen Wilson?
Billboard asked Wilson, who plays on Saturday, what such a parade might consist of. She laughed for a second, and said “I think you have to have a spitting contest in the middle of it.”
The former CMA Female Vocalist of the Year says that playing a festival like Bonfire Jam gets her adrenaline up. “There’s never a bad time to be playing music, and we’re really looking forward to coming down and having a big party,” she says. “That’s the biggest reason that all of us get into this business to begin with. I don’t know of many of my friends in the business who got into it to become rich or win awards. It’s all about playing live.”
Though she was raised in Illinois, the singer says the Jam represents a sort of homecoming — at least to the Sunshine State. “A lot of people don’t know this, but my parents moved around a lot when I was a young girl. I spent quite a few years in South Florida – in Dade County, south of Miami. I can tell you that North Florida is completely different from South Florida. People are amazed when I tell them how many rednecks there are and how country it is in Northern Florida.”
After being silent for a few years recording-wise, Wilson is working on not one — but two new projects. “We just finished up mixing on the first of two six-packs I’m going to be releasing. We decided to do something that would be really fun and familiar, and a project of originals. One of the six-packs is of classic rock cover songs, and the other is all originals.”
The covers disc features some classics, according to Wilson. “All the songs are from the 70s, which is my favorite classic rock era. We did ‘Stay With Me’ from Faces, ‘Funk #49’ by the James Gang, and also covered Bad Company and Van Morrison.
Wilson says that musically, she just wants to do what feels right to her. “I’ve decided that moving forward, I’m going to try to give songs to my audience that move me. I’m not going to pay as much attention to whether it has a fiddle or a steel guitar in it. If it’s a piano based song – even if it’s not what I’m used to, but the song is that good, then that’s what I am going to do. I’ve got a huge variety of musical influences – country, a lot of rock and roll, but also some stuff like Billie Holiday. I think you can never learn too much, when it comes to music. If you’re closed minded, and only listen to one style of music, your creativity will suffer in the long run.”