Tennessee Jed fancies himself a musical outlaw. Like an old-timey cowboy fronting the Western plains, the Raleigh singer-songwriter has spent much of the past year conquering his own promised land while recording his new album Acoustica. It's a passe, perhaps mawkish title, a bit incongruous with the way Jed describes himself. But the rebel is in the details: The cover bears an etching across scratched wood: "Acoustica," it says, drawn like the Metallica logo. And, inside, a tag warns, "No electric guitars were used in the making of this recording."
"The name Acoustica is sort of a take-off on Metallica," says Jed. "It's representative of what I'm trying to do. I'm using only acoustic instruments on the album. That's a theme I came up with and insisted on. I wanted to take the traditional music I love and transform it into something a little more modern, a little more rock 'n' roll."
Acoustica trades up genres with each song, moving from bluegrass to modern country and even pushing into psychedelic rock. But there's a defining country feel throughout, and old-time number "The Ballad of Sam and Molly" serves as Jed's testament to traditional string music. Jed has worn many musical hats over his career. He was a member of Jason Michael Carroll's country band, but he also played in a jam band called One Point Five. Though he loves contemporary bluegrass, he was bred on Led Zeppelin and the Dead. "I wanted all of these influences to emerge on the album, to meld into one."
But an outlaw? Actually, perhaps. Jed's album isn't full of the sweet hum of strings or traditional country formats, but it is stubbornly acoustic. "One of my new music slogans that I've come up with while making this album is this: a new breed of acoustic," he explains. "And that's what I wanted this to be—the old and the new pushed together."
Tennessee Jed plays Hideaway BBQ Saturday, Sept. 22, at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $8-$10.