Jason Scott & the High Heat
The Garage / Winston Main Stage
5:50 pm Saturday, April 29, 2023
Caught halfway between amplified Americana and heartland roots-rock, Jason Scott & the High Heat create a sweeping, dynamic sound that reaches far beyond the traditions of their Oklahoma City home. Too loud for folk music and too textured for Red Dirt, this is the sound of a genuine band rooted in groove, grit, and its own singular spirit, led by a songwriter whose unique past — a Pentecostal upbringing, years logged as a preacher-in-training, and an eventual crisis of faith — has instilled both a storyteller’s delivery and an unique perspective about life, love, and listlessness in the modern world.
While his bandmates — Gabriel Mor (guitar), Taylor Johnson (guitar, keys), Alberto Roubert (drums), Ryan Magnani (bass), and Garrison Brown (keys) — grew up listening to popular music, Jason’s childhood was shaped by the sounds of Sunday morning church service. He sang in the choir and eventually learned to lead his own congregations, often turning to music to get his messages across. Whenever the opportunity arose, he’d sneak off to his uncle’s 1979 Ford Bronco, where he’d listen to the Conway Twitty tapes that offered a glimpse into a world so dissimilar from his own. Although Jason would eventually leave the church altogether for a career as a songwriter, his time as a pastor — forging connections with others, using songs and stories to strengthen the bond — helped prepare him for life on a different kind of life onstage.
Their first full length album Castle Rock, independently released in Feb 2022, spent two months in the top 50 reaching all the way to #36 with the help of Angela Backstrom and Rek Room Media. With articles in the following publications NPR, The Boot, Holler, BBC Radio Scotland, BMI, Bluegrass Situation, Out Of The Woods, Wide Open Country, Sound and Soul, Farce The Music, Ditty TV, Outsider, Oklahoma Free Press, Americana Music Show, Gimme Country, KOSU.
Scott earned critical acclaim as a songwriter in 2018 when the second track of his DIY EP LIVING ROOMS (2017) — a breezy tribute to his wife called “She Good To Me” — landed on NPR World Cafe’s Heavy Rotation: 10 Songs Public Radio Can’t Stop Playing alongside songs by MGMT, Moby, and Jade Bird.
JS+THH recently played Stagecoach, Born and Raised Fest, Mile 0 Fest, Norman Music Festival, Woody Fest, and supported a variety of bands at venues in TX, KS, CO, OK including Band of Heathens, Eli Young Band, Gin Blossoms, Josh Abbott,
Vandoliers, The Damn Quails, MIPSO, Parker Millsap, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and Kaitlin Butts
A multi-instrumentalist, producer, engineer, and session musician, Scott launched his solo career with 2017’s Living Rooms. The 5-song debut EP introduced him as a folksinger with a knack for “fun little earworms” (NPR), and he spent the following year balancing his time between the road and the studio, where he produced albums for Americana artists like Carter Sampson, Ken Pomeroy, and Nellie Clay. Things began to expand as he assembled the High Heat, a band of multi-faceted musicians and roots-rock Renaissance men who, like their frontman, juggled multiple artistic pursuits. Together, Jason Scott & the High Heat have since become a self-contained creative collective whose talents include songwriting, music production, photography, video direction, and more.
Castle Rock marks Jason Scott & the High Heat’s full-length debut. Like the band itself, the album represents a melting pot of influences: the heartland sweep of Tom Petty, the story-driven Americana of Jason Isbell, the nostalgic hooks of ’90s country music, the sharp songwriting of James Taylor, and John Prine’s lyrical mix of cutting insight and laugh-out-loud humor. Co-produced by Jason Scott and Taylor Johnson, the album mixes classic song structures with left-field arrangements, creating a sound that soothes one minute and subverts the next. “Quttin Time” makes room for a dual-guitar attack, a barroom piano solo, and a storyline about a hardworking man’s fruitless attempts to escape his limited horizons, while “Cleveland County Line” flips the script, delivering a narrative about a prodigal son bound for home after a dark spiral of Kerouac-worthy travels. “The Stone” highlights the swaggering grooves that run beneath much of the High Heat’s work, while lyrically the song tackles a soldier’s PTSD after returning from war. Lead single “Suffering Eyes” — with its twinkling keyboards, chugging power chords, and cascading guitar arpeggios — is heartland rock at its modern-day peak, as panoramic as the Oklahoma plains themselves.
“We love our community in Oklahoma City, but we didn’t want to make a Red Dirt record,” Jason explains. “Instead, we included grooves and textures that move beyond that. We added little vignettes to songs like ‘Sleeping Easy,’ which begins with old reel-to-reel footage of a tent revival. We took country songs like ‘A Little Good Music’ and included guitar solos that Nels Cline might have played on a Wilco album. We let ourselves get heavy on ‘In the Offing,’ which sounds far louder than anything I was originally making. For us, it was all about creating a mood, and serving the song with interesting sounds.”
From gigs at Mile 0 Fest and the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival to recognition from the Jimmy LaFave Songwriting Contest, Jason Scott is beginning to leave his mark on the roots-music world. Castle Rock — named after the town in which the frontman temporarily resided after leaving the church — reaches past those accolades, celebrating the seismic shifts that arrive with new experiences, new bandmates, and new songs. It’s an album about change, delivered by a band of musicians who are willing to chase down their own horizons.