Ascending country music star Jon Wolfe is coming home Friday night to perform at the Buffalo Run Casino. This will be Wolfe's first performance here since he left Miami after graduating from Miami High School in 1994.
Ever since Jon signed with the Warner Music Nashville label in September he has been propelled on a high speed, fast paced tour to promote his music.
“We've had a pretty big 'to do' list. With my deal with Warner it's going to be a building process. It's kind of like getting drafted into a major league baseball team, before you can shift to the majors they put you through their farm league first. It think it's going to be a process and just getting acclimated to the label, and getting an idea of what their vision is for my next record,” Jon said, giving an update on his music career.
Jon hasn't been back to Miami for a few years and is looking forward to the homecoming.
“I used to come back a lot when my Mom and Dad lived in Tulsa,” he said. He now lives in Austin, Texas.
A lot of his family lives in Missouri and will be heading here for the show. His Mom is flying in from Houston where she now lives to see the performance too. Jon said he's looking forward to Shawn Howe, one of his good friends, coming to do a song with him as part of Friday's show.
“Shawn used to play fiddle for me occasionally. He played with me at Cain's Ballroom and the Brady Theater in my early days” Jon said.
Some of his high school friends are coming to the show and have been supportive of his music career. He hopes to show his band a little bit of his hometown while they are here. “I'm going to drive my guys past my house that I lived in when I was a little boy,”Jon said.
He lived all over Miami in different houses, on Goodrich Boulevard, on B Street, and out in Eastgate and on J Street.
Jon's memories of Miami are of going to grade school at Nichols Elementary, and what was then the Junior High, skateboarding around town, eating at Waylan's KuKu, and walking to TG&Y as a child with his grandma.
Jon has had some great experiences touring over his career.“I've done some really cool stuff in '06 and '07. It almost feels like a different experience now, like I'm a different guy. I got to do some cool things back then. I got to do a show with Merle Haggard. I was probably just not aware of what was going on then. Most of those times I was so dang nervous. I wish I could have enjoyed that moment, it was so nerve wracking,” he said.
Jon's rich voice is often compared to country music legend George Strait's. Strait is Jon's favorite music artist and he is flattered by the comparison. “I'm really influenced by George. He's kind of my Elvis,” Jon said.
Another highlight of his career came a couple of months ago when Warner flew down to his show in Austin.
“My manager came and my booking agent came, and I set my attendance record, like 450 tickets sold, the band just played impeccable. It was a monster show and I enjoyed myself the whole night. My Mom was there, we had a couple people from Miami who came down for that and the Warner family. I just told my band guys this is probably the biggest moment since I've been doing this to find myself with a family of people that believe in me and support me. It's awesome,”Jon said.
“In the early years your always trying to sell yourself. You're in constant salesman mode. Now I have people that have gravitated towards me because of what I do. It's humbling because it just feels great to have these people in my life.”
Jon is grateful to his fans. “They're everything, to be honest.Without them that night wouldn't have been the night it was. The cool thing about my fans is they're very passionate about my records. The lyrics mean a lot to them. I just did a show down in Dallas, Texas last weekend. As an artist we like to think at times that were changing the world, but we're not.We're playing our part. You know there are nights when you think you're going to have 400 or 500 people.. and you get 100 here. It was a small crowd. I told my band guys and the owner, 'We do the same show every time, it doesn't matter.' I got up on stage and those hundred people were there at the stage and they sang every word louder then I did. I had a great time. I played extra songs until almost 2 a.m.,” he said.
“I think for me that's the big drive behind all of this. What I try to do is, you know, you can't become friends with every single person, but you can embrace them as much as you can with the music and let them know you appreciate it,” Jon said.
The recent loss of his friend and co-writer Tim Johnson after a two year battle with cancer has had a profound affect on him. “He's the reason I'm here today as an artist. He was like a father figure, a brother, a mentor, a co-writer. Tim and I cowrote five of the songs on my CD. It's been a really hard thing. I'm definitely coming to terms with it... I never imagined my career without him,” Jon said, “I'm going to re-gear at the beginning of the year and start writing again.”
He hopes to use some of the songs they wrote together to record on his next album.
The Warner label is getting ready to release a new single, “The Only Time You Call,” also his favorite on the CD, a video and a re-release of a Deluxe Edition of Jon's CD, 'It All Happened in a Honky Tonk,' that will be out around Dec. 4.
When asked how he feels about coming home to perform in his hometown, he said, “It's kind of a right of passage or turning of the page for me. I feel like I've kind of had to weather nine years of this, it's kind of a gift. You know it's not a venue (Buffalo Run) that anybody can get into. If you look at the line up there's Jamie Johnson, Easton Corbin, Glenn Campbell, I mean it's an honor to play there. It's a little reward. Nine years of ups and downs, it's great to reap those rewards and to play your hometown on a great stage, after all the hard work, that's what it means to me for sure.”
Tickets are available for the Friday night show for $10 at Buffalo Run Casino's box office.