Tad Jones EP cover

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Growing up Simple and Free

by Tad Jones

Tad Jones I was the only surviving son of five born to Carl & Clara Jones, and was born on September 5th, 1955 at St. Frances Hospital in Wichita Kansas.

My father was born in Alabama and raised in Ethridge Tennessee. He was an air craft mechanic by trade, but after a stint in the Army Air Corps as a young man, he was forced to move from state to state to find work. My mother was born in Nashville Tennessee and worked for years as a waitress, eventually becoming a chef.

baby Tad w mom & dad As my parents followed various prospects in the Midwest, they settled for a few years in Wichita Kansas and that’s when I decided to visit planet earth! I like to say I started in Nashville but came in through Wichita.

They lived in Kansas for a little over two years, then my father scored a civil service job at Dover Air Force Base in 1957, so we packed up and moved to a small town called Frederica in Deleware located in the marshy fork between two rivers south of Dover.

The population was an interesting mix of eastern shore farmers and rugged watermen that made their living by raising crops, hunting and fishing on the marshes and river estuaries of Delaware Bay. Tad on porch Growing up in this environment, I learned how to fish, crab and hunt local game and at the same time, I developed a taste for rich eastern shore cuisine.

My parents were true southern folk. They worked hard and helped anyone that needed it. I was exposed to an interesting mix of southern and eastern shore food and culture. They both loved music and would frequently get together, mostly on Saturday nights, with anyone that would play an instrument or sing a song. Friends would come over and they would have jam sessions in the kitchen after work.

My father played the guitar and had a great voice. Some say he sounded just like Eddy Arnold. Mom played the harmonica and sang harmony. I have fond memories of cold winter nights when I would lay on my father’s soft, rabbit fur-lined parka in the middle of the kitchen floor and fall asleep listening to them play and sing.

Mom really wanted me to play the piano, so at the age of seven we started lessons. I say we because she worked as hard at making me practice as I did avoiding it. She had to ride me constantly to study music theory and practice daily. My piano teacher loved the way I played and said I held great promise, but I was an active young man and wasn’t going to have anything to do with studying music after school.

So, one Christmas a few years later, the piano gave way to a used set of drums and an old stereo console. (Now you’re talking!) My attention deficit was drastically altered forever.

tad 70s drums

I started practicing every night to the great sounds of The Beatles, The Supremes, Kenny Rogers & The First Addition and Frankie Valli, to name a few. It was great. I had found my calling. I was asked to join a little trio when I was twelve and beat my brains out on those drums.

The band was really bad, but we had fun. We tried to cover Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles and the Stones— and we even managed to get a few gigs.

As I continued to play the drums, I started to learn a few cords on a cheap, old electric guitar I took in trade for a mini bike. I finally sold the electric guitar and bought an Epiphone acoustic that sounded great. All I had to do was learn how to play it!

...Sweetwater (Tad at far right)

I played in several bands in the seventies. One, called “Sweetwater”, played kickin’ country rock in some very rough bars. We even played behind wire cages in some places. One weekend we had the Pagans as body guards. That was interesting to say the least.

I became a master electrician and taught in a vocational school, but I continued with my music, on and off, for years— playing drums while learning chords and strum patterns on my acoustic. In the spring of 1980, I was drumming for a local band called Eclipse when I started playing guitar and singing with the lead singer named Greg Ellingsworth.

Tad & Greg
...Tad (on right) & Greg

It sounded so good that we formed an acoustic/rock duo that became known as Tad & Greg. We had a reputation for great vocal harmonies.

As we developed our list of songs, it became obvious that we could not just play two acoustic guitars during the entire four-hour gig, so I learned how to play just enough on the bass, banjo, mandolin and harmonica to add support and a little variety to the show. We still, to this day, do an occasional gig. Our music was influenced by artists like James Taylor, John Denver, Carole King, Arlo Guthrie, The Everly Brothers, Peter, Paul & Mary and John Prine not to mention my favorites— the Eagles, CSN, Creedence, and Jimmy Buffett. Tad in pickup truck I really like the old country music and bluegrass, but my real love is what I like to call island country.

I recently had a band for several years with my best friend, Deloy Moore. We built the band around the island country sound and that is where I started to write songs like “Simple and Free”.

Tad Jones in studion I’m fascinated by the recording and sound engineering aspect of music. I started running sound for local bands and bluegrass bands in the seventies and continue to learn more about this field every day. In 1995, I had an opportunity to record two songs with a producer at Nightingale Studios in Nashville Tennessee and was so excited that I started purchasing my own recording equipment. I have a small recording studio at my home that I call Tadpole Productions. In the past, I’ve recorded local bands and artists, but now I just work on my own projects.

For me, it’s all about the pure pleasure of makin’ music, and having people enjoy listening to it.