Music Man

The Wheel keeps on turning
for singer-songwriter Jesse

New band to focus on
solid songwriting, performing

By Laura Hodges
Contributing Writer

(February 2011) – As a new decade begins and he turns 30, Madison musician Chris Jesse is changing musical direction.
His former band, Samesoul, has morphed into a new group called The Wheel. Jesse says he and his bandmates will leave behind the “jam band” image and instead focus on solid songwriting and performing, “getting back to what we started to do with Samesoul.” He describes their music as “alt country.”

Chris Jesse

File photo by Don Ward

Madison musician
Chris Jesse has
transformed his
popular band Samesoul
into a new alt country
group called The Wheel.

“I’m a big fan of jam band music, and it was great to do that with Samesoul. But that’s not where my heart is,” said Jesse. “We’re trying to write music that the average person can relate to.”
Jesse plays rhythm guitar and sings lead vocals for The Wheel. Drummer J.T. Glasco and bass player Erik Brunner are also carry-overs from Samesoul. The new member of the group is Tom Steveley, who had played with Young Country for 12 years. “He’s trying to go back to his rock roots,” explained Jesse. “He’s a great lead guitarist.”
The Wheel – so named after Jesse explained to his 5-year-old son that he was trying to re-invent the wheel – had its first performance at Jesse’s ninth annual birthday party at The Electric Lady on Jan. 22. Keeping with the goal of performing songs the average person can relate to, they opened with “The Friday Night Anthem.” “It’s a song for the working man,” said Jesse.
Their next gig is Feb. 11 at a new club, The Bardstown, on Louisville’s Bardstown Road. Breaking into the Louisville music scene will be a main focus of 2011, but they also plan to perform in Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Columbus and of course the band’s home base of Madison.
“This town is amazing when it comes to music,” said Jesse. “It’s known for having great music. Jimmy Davis, Chip Binzer, Darryl Hewitt, Rusty Bladen. People who play music in this town take it very seriously.”
Music is the reason Jesse is in Madison. He grew up in Bedford, Ky., but moved to Madison in 2000 because of the music scene. He started going to open mic nights, found others who shared his passion, and started Samesoul six years ago.
During those six years, there were six different configurations of musicians. People came and went, with no hard feelings. “We all got along, we were just constantly interchanging,” he said. In one case, a musician left and then returned. Jesse’s friend Brice Hall, an original member of Samesoul, came back to play for them when they were short-handed in 2010. He promised to stay through the end of the year, but no longer.
“For me it was like closure. I started the band with him, and I closed 2010 with him. It’s a good start-over place for me,” said Jesse.
On Feb. 19, The Wheel goes into the Stable Studios in Spencer, Ind., to record eight to 10 original songs. These will probably be released as a self-titled album.
As he celebrates his 30th birthday, Jesse says he is “super excited to see that this year will bring.”
“Looking back now at 21 and playing music, it was the most terrifying thing I’ve ever done. I feel like I’ve got those performing years behind me and I feel confident being 30.”

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