Born and raised in Beasley, Texas Jon Stork has always been surrounded my music. Discovering the likes of Johnny Cash and George Jones in the family tractor Jon's "country music buffet" continued to grow. Once finding his voice, Jon found himself balancing music, school and bartending trying to make his dreams a reality. But a moment of fate from both his bosses and his professor and Texas A&M solidified that country music was Jon's path. Stork's impressive dynamics between his lyrics, traditional Texas style shuffles and rock and roll style live show, Jon Stork is throwing his name in the country music hat and thriving.
What were your favorite musical memories from growing up?
My whole family was musical. I was actually the last one to really step into the whole music thing. My younger sister, she sang, she played harp of all instruments to pick up. My older brother was the first one who really got into music. He was he was a huge reason why I started playing. He had a band, I don't wanna call it rock somewhere between, Dave Matthews and John Mayer and Jack Johnson. And so that kind of stuff. My older sister can really sing! But my mom was the patriarch of the musical side of our family.
We grew up with a piano. My mom was praise and worship, leader for our church. She would always drag me around to and from church events. That's where I learned how to feel music was in church. I didn't have any idea that was gonna be such a huge thing later on in life.
We grew up on a ranch southwest of Houston and we would go places and my dad. He would say to my older brother, “grab your guitar.” I wanted to be apart of that. That's when I started picking up guitar and I just kind of started doing it.
What were some of the artists and songs you remember from growing up? How did they shape you to who you are now?
I grew up in church and on top of that we were homeschooled. I didn't really get to find a lot of music until I was a little bit older. I was either left in the vehicle unattended or found them on my own. I remember there were some tapes in the tractor that my dad had bought from a neighbor. Those were George Strait, George Jones, I think there was a Johnny Cash one in there and maybe John Denver. My first CD, I remember mowing the yard with CD player trying not to trying not to skip was Johnny Cash. That is tattooed in my memory. probably the first, like just tattooed on my, on my memory. Then, I actually had a burned Alabama CD. I think that was one of the first times I fell in love with the lyrics and the melody.
I went to the musical buffet like a little fat kid and just grabbed everything because I grew up only being able to really listen to Christian music and gospel music. I remember hearing Toby Keith “Should’ve Been A Cowboy” like they make music like this. So many of these play into who I am now!
So pinpointing is so difficult, it just depends on what part or what time of my life.
What is your favorite part about the Texas Country scene?
I think I would have to say my favorite part is the fact that it's no longer our thing. I think that's my favorite thing and I'm probably not gonna get a whole lot of likes for that. But they don't have Kansas country, they don't have Maine country. But music is something that was meant to be shared and meant to be experienced by people outside of borders. But now we have been able to take this music outside of Texas!
I’ve been lucky enough to play my music North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin Iowa, Illinois, Indiana. Those new towns in states that we've never even played music in before and seem people sing and dance right along with us!
Texas country will always be Texas country, but it's kind of shaped and morphed into something else. Now, it’s more like Texas music because there's so many different styles and genres.
Jon and I at his Joe's On Weed Show in Chicago
How do you feel that being a student at Texas A&M, while working and pursuing helped your work ethic?
Honestly, I am not sure how I did it. Looking back it feels like it flew by! I would wake up at 4:45, 5 o'clock in the morning, go clean horse stalls for A&M and then go to my big boy job. Then, after that go to school and come back to the stalls and close that down. I did anything I could to make an extra buck when I wasn't at one of those jobs.
Then I was living in Houston, bartending and doing just anything that I could. It's just determination, just being bound and determined.
I think some of the best advice I've gotten was from Pat Green, he said “Man, go find the worst job you can find until it's time for you to play music.”
I think a lot of of people just missed that whole point, I missed it for about three years. It took me those years to figure out what he was actually talking about.
I was in the back office of a bar in Houston. I'd moved from bar to bar. They said, no, come work over here. You'll make more money. I ended up making a pocket full of cash and, and having a good time and making friends and bartending. I was still playing by myself, every now and then with a band and the bar would even let me come play some music, I could hop back behind the bar and keep working and whatnot.
I remember three or four years after Pat’s advice, which at the time I thought was dumb, sitting in that back bar. The owners of the bar said I had been taking off too many weekends to go play music. You gotta pick. It was literally like the light bulb moment in a cartoon. I was like, okay I quit and they both looked at each other and at me and they were like, are you serious? I felt like they shouldn't have given me this ultimatum, but that's exactly what I needed.
From there I had finally gotten into a university and I was finally going to school for what I wanted to do. My professor in my public relations marketing school was asking me, is all this music stuff real?I was doing my own marketing and my own PR for what I was starting to do in music. She said, “now I haven't had any other students do this before. And I think you should quit right now. You should quit school and go do this, go do this. I'll be teaching this class if you ever decide to come back and take this.” That entire class, that professor and a couple other ones that had talked about what I was doing, all showed up to our first album release party in Houston. It was kind of a movie.
I pray a lot and just make good decisions. There is no secret formula. there’s no formula. You just show up. You have to put it put in the time and the effort and the determination to just go do it. It starts to unfold, but it takes time. Garth Brooks didn’t pop up overnight, Rome wasn’t built is a day! People are so used to having things in an instant that we forget good things take time. I heard this the other day and I wish I had heard it earlier But the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time to plant a tree is right now.
What is “Rockytonk”
I remember listening to Gary Stewart and this whole like honky to feel, but he had more to it. It wasn't all shuffles, he took you on a trip. I said Rockytonk one day and somebody said, where'd you hear that?
I think it is a good description of who I am and what my music is. I did grow up with a brother who was in an alternative band. Plus I had so just so many different kinds of music coming in that I think it all just started coming out of me, so that’s what we call it now. It speaks to the lyrics and the melodies also feeding into some energy.
Rockytonk makes you want to drink a beer, but I still want my music to take you on a trip. I love sad songs. I love writing sad songs. I've got a lot of ammo. I noticed about Gary Stewart, even at a young age, I was like, man, this guy can really turn the knife. I think George Strait's Honkytonkville album is still my favorite George! I want to channel all of that. I think that's my favorite George Strait.
How do you define country music?
Country music has pulled from so many other inspirations over time from 20 years ago to the roots of country music. Willie Nelson's got three chords truth. That is extremely spot on to where the roots are. The melodies and the stories are what drew me into country music. I think Vince Gill is a great representation of what that is because his music has it all. It’s fun. It can make you cry, it's it it'll make you wanna dance, grab a beer, whatever, or just sit there and listen and soak it up. That's a huge part of it for me. When I go out now, or when I'm watching my friends like Randall King I enjoy just to sit, watch and most important, listen.
Country music is the lyrics, melodies, and the stories. You can put a whole lot of stuff out there to a great melody, but when it hits home or when it hits, when it hits dead on. That’s country music!
What are you excited about this year?
We are releasing new music this year! We're going to be releasing new music by the end of the summer yet. We've got seven songs that we're sitting on right now, for an album titled “Faster Horses” I go back to the studio in a week or two. This stuff is unfolding in front of my eyes.
I still I'm still writing a lot of songs as well. I still have different appointments and whatnot with different guys that I've wanted to write with that I'm saving ideas for. I’m blessed beyond belief. I really have no idea how it's opened up to this.
I will say my buddy, Jake Worthington he told me, “You just start, you just have to, you just have to go. You’re never gonna have enough time. You're never gonna have enough money and you're never gonna have that extra piece of the puzzle, that’s somehow always pops up when you need it to. Figure it out and move from there because it's worth making it happen.