Nobody in Austin has a career quite like Jesse Dayton’s, which is a model of diversification tied together with a "hardcharger" mentality. First off, there’s the intensely popular residency — every Thursday night at the Broken Spoke, where the young, pretty girls will dance with anything with arms in cowboy boots. But Bob Schneider also has one of those magical calendar tattoos — Mondays at the Saxon Pub. Nothing too special there.
An actor who portrayed Kinky Friedman in the play "Becoming Kinky" last year, Dayton’s also been in movies, such as "The Devil’s Rejects" and "Halloween II," directed by his pal Rob Zombie. Big deal — Jimmie Dale Gilmore was in "The Big Lebowski." He was Smokey, the mark it eight, Dude.
Dayton also fronts wholly different musical configurations, from vintage honkytonk to Gulf Coast pop to hard rockabilly. Johnny Goudie is not impressed.
But here’s something that can only happen to Dayton, who knows that driving halfway from his hometown of Beaumont to L.A. will still not quite get you out of Texas. He got a call from producer George Drakoulis recently. Good news and bad news. The good news was that George Clooney was filmed singing Dayton’s song "Send Me An Angel" for "Hangover 3." The bad news? The Cloon decided he didn’t want it in the movie — it was too much like his musical turn in "O Brother Where Art Thou." When Dayton hung up the phone a bunch of thousand dollar bills with wings flew out the window. Win some, lose some. It was the window of the house Dayton bought with royalties from his fictional Banjo & Sullivan group from the soundtrack to "The Devil’s Reject."
"The music business has gotten so squirrelly," says Dayton, who made his bones with the Road Kings out of Houston in the ‘80s, then moved to Austin in the mid-‘90s and has a son at Westlake High. "You’ve gotta figure out other ways to make a living with your music. All my friends went to Nashville to try to get George Strait to record their songs, but I went the other way, to L.A.."
Dayton has also turned to directing: His Malcolm McDowell-starring feature length debut "Zombex," which he wrote on a 40-date tour with Rob Zombie — at three pages a day — has just been picked up for European distribution.
But here’s the one thing that makes Jesse Dayton truly stand out: you give him a guitar and put him in front of a drummer and two other guys with guitars and have him sing his own songs and it’s like Waylon Jennings in his late 30s if Buddy Holly didn’t die. Dayton can’t sing like Waylon, not even close, but he has a sideman’s chops on guitar and he can ride a groove like it’s one of his beloved British motorcycles.
Dayton is stepping into the Red Horse Recording Studio in South Austin on Saturday to record his first country rock album under his own name in nine years. It’ll be the best thing he’s ever done: a four-piece band raging about the possibilities.
That’s how they’ll be playing New Year’s Eve at Emo’s East, opening for frantic R&B-rocker Black Joe Lewis. This would seem to be an ill fit — the Broken Spoke Comes to Harlem (sounds like Dayton’s next film project). But when the bands shared a bill in Corpus Christi in late November, the crowd ate it all up. "It brought out my country soul brother and blues roots, " Dayton said of his opening slot in front of a crowd ready to get funked up. "We just floored it, man, and we went over big time."
"Hardcharger" is the name of the upcoming album, a term he picked up from R. Lee Ermey, who Dayton knows from working together in L.A. "He came to one of our shows and said, ‘Man, these people out there are real hardchargers,’ and that’s what we’ve called our fans ever since."
Having the drill sergeant from "Full Metal Jacket" name your fans? Top that, Band of Heathens.
Show of the weekend: Young parents of four, Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis need the babysitting money. The couple’s annual holiday show at the Paramount Theatre has become a local tradition and they’ll be sure to mix Christmas faves with songs from their debut duo album "Cheaters Game," which comes out Feb. 12. The Gourds open. 8 p.m. Saturday. $30- $40. 713 Congress Ave. 474-1221. www.austintheatre.org.
Concert calendar: Eli Young Band Thursday at Emo’s East; the Derailers at the Scoot Inn Saturday; Pam Tillis at the One World Dec. 20; Joe Ely at the Saxon Pub Dec. 21 & 22; Carper Family at the Blackheart Bar Dec. 23; Cody Canada & the Departed at Gruene Hall Dec. 27; Hayes Carll at Antone’s Dec. 29 & 30; Willie Nelson, the Mavericks at ACL Live Dec. 30.
New Year’s Eve: the Gourds at Scottish Rite; Scott H. Biram at Frank; Stoney LaRue at Gruene Hall; Willie Nelson at ACL Live.
Down the road: Merle Haggard will play the Star of Texas Rodeo at Travis County Expo Center March 17, Carrie Underwood will play Cedar Park Center April 27, Taylor Swift performs at the Erwin Center May 21.