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Jackson Dean: 'There's No Track, No Click, All We're Riding Off Is My Boot Heel & My Drummer's Intuition'

19 October 2023 | 1:43 pm | David James Young

Jackson Dean on performing at Groundwater Country Music Festival this weekend: “I'm kind of counting on y'all to be like our crowd in Glasgow – those guys were nuts!”

Jackson Dean

Jackson Dean (Source: Supplied)

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Jackon Dean is speaking to Countrytown from his home. Normally, that would be a pretty unremarkable environment for an interviewee to be in – but what you're not taking into consideration is just how hard this 23-year-old singer-songwriter has been hitting the road of late.

Since the release of his debut album, 2022's Greenbroke, Dean has been making his presence felt at venues across the world – both as an opener for bigger acts like Brooks & Dunn and Kip Moore and as a headliner in his own right. Though it's his name on the marquee, Dean is emphatic about his live show being the sum of its parts – including his recently expanded five-piece band.

“There's a real connection between us on stage,” says Dean. “I mean, I've known the drummer, Sean [Mercer], since I was 14 years old. We just added our buddy Trevor to the mix on keys, who's a real utility guy. It's not enough that all these guys are great on one instrument, too – they've all got other stuff they can play.

“Trevor knows how to play the Irish flute, which just sounds insane, while Rich [Kolm, bass] has a banjo and Brandon [Aksteter, lead guitar] just got an electric mandolin – you know, like, the one that you hear on Going To California by Led Zeppelin? We got all kinds of new flavours in the sauce right now!”

Dean has also been able to bring his music to crowds all through the UK and greater Europe this year. Though you wouldn't exactly consider the continent a hub of country music, Dean is emphatic that the passionate crowds he and the band were met with would suggest otherwise. “They just love music that's a bit raw, with lots of guitar to sink their teeth into,” he says of European crowds.

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“A lot of artists can just rock up to a venue every night, hand over a flash drive to someone and be like, 'OK, here's the show'. We're not like that at all. There's no track, there's no click, and all we're riding off is my boot heel and my drummer's intuition. It's very much a living, breathing thing when we're playing live. No two shows are exactly the same, and not only does it work well for us, it works for the people of Europe too.”

To commemorate his extensive tour, Dean put out a live album earlier this year that captures a selection of songs from a performance at Nashville's iconic Ryman Auditorium that took place almost exactly a year ago in October of 2022. When it came to deciding on a stop on the Greenbroke tour to commit to a permanent record, Dean knew from the jump where it had to go down. “The Ryman... I mean, it's the mother church, man,” says Dean – a glint in his eye that can only come from speaking in the most reverential of tones.

“The first show I ever saw when I came to Nashville was at the Ryman – it was Alison Krauss and Jamey Johnson. It doesn't matter who I've seen there – the Brothers Osborne, Emmylou Harris, Billy Strings, even Black Pumas – there's just been such magic in the room when you're watching musicians perform on that stage. When we found out we were gonna play there ourselves, we thought it would behove us not to get this down the first time. Who knows? We might never get asked back, after all!”

Though the touring has been extensive, Dean has found moments of downtime to start jotting down ideas for what he hopes to be a follow-up to Greenbroke. Though it's still in its early stages, Dean is optimistic about fighting through any creative blocks that may come his way. “There's no shortage of inspiration,” he says, “but it definitely comes in waves. Sometimes, you wake up, and you just know it: 'I got ain't nothin' today, man'.

“I write with my band, which is something I know not a lot of solo artists do, but they know me. As I said, they've been with me [for] a long time. We've got two songs we've been demoing, and that's where my buddies Luke Deke and Ryan Tindall come into play. They're my producers, and Ryan is also a great writer.

“They'll hop on the tour bus with speakers and their interface, and we'll get to working while we're all waiting around for that night's show to start. There'll be more where that came from, too – I wrote a new song just sitting by myself in the driver's seat of the bus just after lunchtime the other day.”

Dean touches down in Australia this week to perform as part of the Groundwater Music Festival, as well as his own headlining shows. Even before he's soundchecked his first show, however, he's already announced his return: Next March, he'll be part of the vast CMC Rocks line-up in Ipswich alongside Lainey Wilson, Tyler Hubbard, Brad Cox, Megan Moroney and a plethora of others.

Even with two tours already booked down under, however, Dean has no idea what to expect – save for a little anecdote passed on to him by Kip Moore.

“I asked Kip about what his shows in Australia were like,” says Dean. “All he said was this: 'Go make the investment; you'll look back at it in a couple of years and be happy that you did.' He didn't give me any specifics, but that was intriguing enough that I knew this was gonna be good.

“I'm kind of counting on y'all to be like our crowd in Glasgow – those guys were nuts!”

Jackson Dean is performing at Groundwater Country Music Festival, which is held 20-22 October on the Gold Coast. He joins Lee Kernaghan, Amber Lawrence, Casey Barnes, Asleep At The Wheel (USA), The Wolfe Brothers and Adam Harvey & Beccy Cole. You can find more information at