Bill Jerram is a hard guy to classify, but if push comes to shove, he'd probably tell you that he's a Roots/Pop singer/songwriter. He'd probably be quick to add that he and his band "do more than that" or "well that doesn't really capture completely what we do, maaaan". Yeah, yeah, Bill - we've heard it all before. But in this band's case, that Roots/Pop label truly might not be broad enough.
Bill is one of those rare natural talents. He did not take singing lessons; took one bass lesson as a kid, and zero guitar lessons. He learned what he knows by ear. And by listening to records. Lots of them. Already a Beatles nut by the age of 6 (Sgt. Pepper's was his first purchase) and teaching himself his first song by age 9 (Blondie's "Call Me" on a guitar strung with yarn) Bill just always had "...that little somethin' somethin'...". And a drive to sing and play music.
From there, it was only a matter of time until he took what he learned in his "informal songwriting lessons" from teachers like Aretha Franklin, Willie Nelson and Black Sabbath, and began applying is own unique take on what still drives him to this day: THE SONG.
Bill was born in New York, moved to Houston at six-months-old and has called Austin, TX home since 1994. After previously living in Austin for a summer, he was drawn back by the rich musical landscape, beautiful hills and swimming holes, eccentric personalities, and the "genuine vibe that represents the best of what Texas has to offer". Bill came to Austin to play music with some friends from college. His band, The Danglers, was a fixture on the Austin music scene for years, released two acclaimed albums and were often hailed as one of the brightest upcoming roots rock bands in Austin. If you ask Bill, he'll tell you that time was the real beginning of his musical education. It was then he took his self-taught skills from the bedroom to the next level. "You learn real quick in the bars and clubs in Austin what counts and what is bullshit. There are just way too many great bands ready to take your place if you don't step up to the plate"
Laying down the bass and splitting lead vocal duties, Bill sharpened his natural ability into a well crafted workhorse, after nights of watching Austin mainstays like Two Hoots and a Holler, Guy Forsyth and legends such as Doug Sahm. But like many a great rock n roll outfit, the Danglers eventually went their separate ways to pursue their varied interests. It was then that Bill decided this was a perfect opportunity to do something he'd never done before: Front a band with a guitar, instead of a bass.
Bill had been playing acoustic guitar for years, doing acoustic sets with the Danglers, and did most of his writing on it, but he had never taken on the role of guitar front man. So to prove to himself he was worthy of a six-string and bolster some confidence, Bill took on a bunch of solo acoustic gigs to see how it felt out there all by himself. The results were invigorating and promising.
Now Bill needed a band. Wanting to shed the limitations of only one guitar and one voice, Bill hooked up with long-time drummer and friend Slade Crabtree, and started putting the band together that they had often discussed over beers. Bill contacted another long time friend, Marty Hobratschk, to handle the bass duties, and was recommended keyboardist extraordinaire Will Cornforth through a mutual friend. The fit was instant, and the band was able to straddle a variety of styles, a necessary element to get Bill's songs across. And thus, the Bill Jerram Band was born.
Enter the year 2005 and the Bill Jerram Band's self-titled debut. This brand new recording, the BJB's first together, delivers on the "Roots/Pop and beyond" claims. Produced by N. Eugene Brown and released on Ah-Love Records, the CD contains 12 original rock songs that flirt with country, soul, power-pop, storytelling and even 50's do-wop flavors and range from happy to haunting. Bill's obsession with British singer/songwriters such as Ray Davies and Elvis Costello shines through, as do his Texas roots. And the proof is in the record: while the Bill Jerram Band may be best classified as a roots/pop band, this album might have you thinking outside those lines a bit. And I think Bill might like that....