Across the murky waters of the Hudson, lies a beast of Lock Ness Monster proportions. Laying low, for now, in Verona, NJ, an amalgam of varying talents by the name of Old Wives, occasionally venture into small, dark corridors of NYC venues to showcase their orbital fortitude of tunes.
The Gleason Project by Ryan Zerfas
Front man and proprietor of a dangerous set of pipes, Jason Gleason’s voice could T-bone a Mack Truck. He sings with the ostentatious confidence of Jeff Buckley, seared with the desire to explore and magnify a hook, and wring it out, like Roger Daultry. Since Further Seems Forever’s vocal clinic How to Start a Fire, an all-around classic, seemingly there were only glimpses of this vocal prowess (with other bands), which seemed like a punishment or a pouty timeout for music fans. It hasn’t been fair.
Working as a part-time endeavor, Old Wives released their debut Tidal Tales last year, without much ballyhoo or critical endorsement. In an interview with BRM Jason Gleason proclaimed with an ounce or two of trepidation, that the project is, perhaps, ready to escalate into a full-time ordeal “with lawyers and everything else that goes into making a band a business.” Gleason described the transition as a “slow, organic process that evolved from going into a basement and letting out aggression. Making music for the reason I became a musician in the first place.”
Gleason’s caution to making it official is warranted. He’s been down this road before, playing his way in and out of many bands that haven’t worked out long-term for whatever reason. Besides FSF he’s been in Affinity, Sunken Ship, ActionReaction, MouthBreath, Manifest, Coverage, Cougar Tooth, Agua Menagua and Leonard Skanerd. Many of those band names sound too good to be true and I’ll have to take the word of Old Wives’ Facebook page.
Where can one find solidarity with music and business? For starters, Gleason’s wife Bea, is the keyboard player in the band, as well as their last band together ActionReaction circa 2006. In what seems like a terrible idea to me, having a significant other that close to everything you do, seems to be a point of jubilation for Gleason who described their working relationship as “awesome, perfect…working on music comes easy for us, she’s a fantastic song writer.” He further commented on their ability to unwind, without working, by lamenting “we listen to a lot of records…whether upstairs or downstairs, there’s always a record spinning at the Gleason house.”
Sometime during the interview with BRM, Gleason had to take a break to give a proper goodbye to a friend, who actually had given him a couple of records, which I could hear him open and get excited about in the distance (when I was “on hold”). It was one of those moments when I lived out the reason I cover music—for those that use it properly it really does serve as glue—holding everything in life together, in all contexts, intents and purposes.
With his departure from FSF far in the rear view mirror, years later, doctor time to the rescue, April of 2011 in Philadelphia he was able to join Chris Carrabba and the original front man of the band on stage for “The Sound,” the most recognizable song off of How to Start a Fire. “I listened to that album recently for the first time without negative feelings,” he said, and according to Gleason everything leading up to the Philly reunion came together in an unplanned chaotic way. He just wanted to see the original formation of the band, the band that he was a fan of growing up as a kid in Minnesota, before given the chance to live his dream and sing for them. A scenario just about anyone has cooked up in his or her respective brain. And in the vein that these things come together, two minutes into the song he sprang out mid verse, romanticizing a classic to a hungry crowd of fist pumping kids. Quick, simple and to the point—the exact opposite of his vocal style, but it worked and everything seems to have returned to homeostasis for the two parties or as he described it “totally fun.”
If Jason Gleason’s vocal virtuosity has found a family I don’t need to know if it’s rock, space rock, jam band folk, singer-songwriter schlock, reggae, ska, or however you want to over-categorize it. I just need to know where to find it. Old Wives will give you those things and more. On a clear starry night you just may be able to follow the blaring saxophone, orbital circling vocals and laser sharp keys to the jamboree yourself. There are no rainbows or pots of gold in space, but a majestic ranch, deft of gravitation, where music is the currency leaves one just as rich.
Old Wives album Tidal Tales is available on I-Tunes and their website.