Jesse Dayton hails from Beaumont, Texas and now lives in Austin. Houston, however, holds a special place in the rocker’s heart.
It was in the Bayou City that Dayton began to make waves with his raucous brand of Lone Star rock.
“I had an apartment in Montrose, right behind 90.1 FM KPFT,” he remembers. “It was during that time that things really started to happen for me as a musician. That was one of the best times of life, and I won’t forget it. And I’ll always have a soft spot for this city.”
Dayton headlines this week’s University of Houston-Downtown Thursday Night Concert Series at Discovery Green. The show begins at 7 p.m. with opening act The Octanes.
Dayton picked up the guitar at the age of 15. One year later, he performed his first gig with a zydeco band in Lake Charles, Louisiana. That experience energized the young musician who ultimately became the guitarist of choice for a number of music legends. Johnny Cash, Ray Price, Glen Campbell, and numerous others have enlisted his talents for their recordings. Of all the musicians he’s played with, one person has left him speechless.
“I was pretty blown away when I met Willie Nelson,” Dayton said. “Meeting him was just incredible. I’ve met a lot of people, including The Rolling Stones, but nothing compared to meeting Willie. It might be because I’m a Texan, but he’s a true gentleman and a talented guy.”
Dayton’s soulful voice, twangy guitar and frank lyrics have earned him a loyal following in Texas. He takes his cues from classic country while infusing rock sensibilities. The result is hard-driving music that is reminiscent of yesteryear’s jukebox heroes, but sounds just as fresh today as it would have decades ago.
“People are inundated with corporate music these days,” he said. “They’re sold things every second of the day. When they hear my songs with characters … who are people that I grew up with in Texas … they respond. Audiences are looking for something that’s real, and I think I can provide that.”
Dayton’s talents also have extended into movies. He’s collaborated with fellow rocker and film director Rob Zombie on “Devil’s Rejects” and “Halloween 2.” Recently, Dayton made his directorial debut on the horror film, “Zombex,” starring Malcolm McDowell, John Doe, Sid Haig and Lew Temple.
Opening act The Octanes are certainly ready to join Dayton at Discovery Green. Guitarist and vocalist Adam Burchfield is looking forward to perform in Downtown Houston—his former hometown—alongside a musicians he holds in high regard.
“I’ve known Jesse for a long time,” Burchfield said. “I was fan of his for years, and we’re now peers. He’s been a help to me through the years, so this will be a good show.”
Not unlike Dayton, The Octanes provide audiences with a blast from the past thanks to the band’s dedication to 1950s-style American rock. Tracks, like “Brandin’ Iron Blues” and “Can’t Be Friends,” showcase Burchfield’s nimble fingers and affinity for vintage rock n’ roll.
Joining Burchfield this Thursday is the current version of The Octanes: drummer Richie Vasquez, saxophonist Clint Boyd, and James Burchfield (Adam Burchfield’s father) on bass. So, this week marks a special homecoming for Adam Burchfield as he’ll play a full gig for the first time alongside his rockin’ dad.
“It’s going to be pretty amazing,” he said. “He’s been playing since he was a kid, so I know he’s looking forward to this.”
Jesse Dayton and The Octanes perform at UHD’s Thursday Night Concert Series on June 15 at Discovery Green. The Octanes kick off the show at 7 p.m. on the Anheuser Busch Stage.