AL: Your latest studio album is being worked on by Ken Coomer of Wilco. How’d this partnership come to be?
JM: I was initially talking with Oliver Wood of The Wood Brothers about producing the album. He was busy around the time we wanted to record and he recommended Ken Coomer to me. I always loved Ken’s playing with Wilco and the minute we got together to talk about recording the album I knew it was the right fit. He’s such a solid guy and everything with him is effortless. He always has the right ideas and the perfect words to encourage you to fire it up and get the best recordings possible.
AL: What is one thing you’ve taken away from his expertise?
JM: Trust yourself. Try new things. Don’t be afraid to push the barriers a bit because you can always bring it back to zero and stick with the original idea.
AL: Tell us a little bit about the album. How can this be compared and contrasted to your other JMB albums?
JM: I’d like to think that these are the best songs I’ve ever written. They are honest and meaningful and I think they resonate with the audience. We recorded in Nashville because I wanted to get to the heart of these songs and there is nowhere for songwriting and songwriters like Nashville. I spent a lot of time there last year just writing and soaking up the creative spirit. It was just a blast to make. Heading to the studio every morning was exciting because I felt like we were riding the right wave and everything was coming up roses. Having local musicians and people like Sam Bush or Jeff Coffin on the album was icing on the cake.
AL: Your new album also sees help from Sam Bush as well as Jeff Coffin from Dave Matthews Band–what insight, creative ideas or advice did you take away from them to craft this album that you might not have implemented before?
JM: I was so honored to have those guys record on my music. I think there was a bit of mutual admiration because not a lot was said regarding the playing of the songs. They are total pros and all I really did was play the songs for them once or twice and off we went. We recorded the song “Virginia” entirely live in the studio with the full band and Sam Bush. I think we ended up using the first or second take but we had such a blast doing it we recorded 5 or 6 takes just for fun. There have a been a few times in my life where I’ve felt like I was floating on stage and that was one of them.
AL: Which artists influence your music most? As a whole and as of late.
JM: Anything that is soulful resonates with me. Put on an old Stax or Motown or Muscle Shoals recording and I’m a happy man. That being said there’s a lot of modern stuff I really like too. Everything from Bon Iver to Chris Stapleton to Anderson Paak. I’m in as long as there’s a strong melody, lyrical ideas and soul.
AL: Who was your favorite artist to share the stage with and why?
JM: Playing with Elvis Costello at Madison Square Garden will always be a highlight. Derek Trucks is one of the nicest guys in the biz. Hearing Dr. John tell stories late into the night is unbelievable. Playing guitar on Meters songs with Zigaboo. It’s all been one hell of a ride.
AL: If you could only cover one song for the rest of your career, what would it be?