Donnie Jay

“My personal definition of success is the gift that I have been blessed with. Success is not about money for me, it is about seeing or hearing someone swaying to my music or having a fan tell me that I am awesome.” @Juke96dk

Listen to the interview:

Jacqueline Jax logo photoGETTING TO KNOW DONNIE JAY FROM

by Jacqueline Jax host of A.V.A Live Radio

My personal definition of success is…
the gift that I have been blessed with. Not utilizing it would be a total failure for anyone with musical talent. In my case, I need to share that gift with anybody who wants to listen to it. Success is not about money for me, it is about seeing or hearing someone swaying to my music or having a fan tell me that I am awesome. Furthermore, reaching the goals I have set myself is also a success. I believe I said out loud to myself the word “success” when my debut album “Jelly Roll Jam” was released. It was such a great feeling! No matter what the result might be, it was my personal success story and I am very proud of that accomplishment. It takes a lot of discipline and work to record a complete album. I just made myself a good work ethic and I sticking to that plan. I will continue to make albums in the same manner. I think I have a lot of room for improvement and I will improve. Finally, being able to admit that there is room for improvement makes me feel successful.

My overall personal and professional goals are…
not wants, they are needs. The main goal for me is to have that successful album that sits in that top 10 for a good length of time and to have fans with whom I can share that goal with. I also want to continue to grow musically and help others as much as possible. I am considering doing a collaboration album with a great friend of mine in the future. I learn so much from him every time we are together or even talking on the phone. Finally, helping others with their own music would be a satisfying goal. I would enjoy that more than anything.

3 Ways I Challenge Myself:
1. Improve my instrumental and vocal skills. The more prepared I am, the more success I will have in all aspects of my career including recording, writing and performing. I also study scale charts as much as possible to improve myself technically.
2. Study the gear I have for a couple hours 2 nights a week since recording can be tricky sometimes. I feel two hours twice a week is enough time to learn more about what I am working with, without taking away time from other challenges.
3. Stay focused and down to earth. It is probably the biggest challenge of all since I think sometimes performers get full of themselves and we see that often in celebrity media everyday. All of my goals are challenging and I will never stop trying and writing. I will never give up on the one thing that I can do to make others happy, which is the one thing that I can share with huge amounts of friends and fans. That, in itself, can be a real challenge and a blessing at the same time.

I got into music at a young age because of my sister…
My older sister was a straight “A” student throughout school, which I was not, and at one point, she decided she wanted to take guitar lessons. So, our mother and father purchased an acoustic guitar for her and guitar lessons that lasted about 2 months. After that, we had this guitar sitting around the house collecting dust! Therefore, one day, I decided to dust that acoustic off and I have never looked back since. I was about 12 years old.

I am from Janesville, Wisconsin…
Janesville itself has a ton of good clubs to indulge in food, drink and great local entertainment. I am actually attending a rock concert at our local airport in late September called “Sonic Boom”. My son bought me a ticket and he wants me to go with him. Maybe I will learn some new tricks if I watch and listen close enough during the performance. If one cares to travel, we have great venues for popular touring musicians in cities such as Madison, Milwaukee, Rockford, and Chicago which are all within driving distance of Janesville.

Outside of music, I enjoy…
kicking back on a lazy summer afternoon, slapping a C.D. in a boom box and sitting under the umbrella on my patio while firing up some juicy barbecued ribs on the smoking grill. This definitely gives me the relaxation and break my creative juices need once in a while. A Brandy and Coke Cocktail or two can help me with that as well. In winter, we all shovel snow and we occasional go on an ice fishing trip in a local flowage with my son and grand baby, which is always a fun winter activity.

I am most afraid of…
not being able to play guitars or write songs. That would be my worst fear.


“Snake On The Wall” is…
a song about a dream I had several times when I was a young boy. I was afraid of clown pictures back then and in this recurrent dream, I had several of them hanging on my bedroom wall until my mother finally took them down. Dreams like those stay in your memories throughout your adult life. That is where the idea for the lyrics came from. The melody was inspired by a friend listening to me plunking out some jazzy and bluesy riffs on an acoustic guitar when he visited me a few years back. This friend was a hard rock head banger. While looking at me with one eyebrow raised, he said: ” Dude! Can’t you smack that tune up a bit?” Hence, “Snake On The Wall” was born. Although not as influenced by the blues as some of my other songs, it is a great attention grabber and it shows the diversity of my album.

I have always been inspired by…
all the different bands and genres of music that I have listened to or experimented with over the years. I played in a band called “Diamond Star” from about 1978 to 1988. We wrote a lot of our own tunes back then and covers as well, which never in my ear sounded good enough. Indeed, in my opinion, you just cannot cover someone else’s music and have it sounds like the original. So, I decided the best route was to create music by myself, and wanting it bad enough was all the inspiration I needed.

What you can expect from me…
Honestly, I can tell you that my future albums will be entertaining and diverse. They will vary genres from rock and blues rock to jazz blues and even more folksy roots based tunes with a different music influences attached. I will continue to compose and record albums for as long as the good lord allows me to. Also, you can expect an album every six months or so for awhile, then we will see what happens.

The music business is…
Awesome! In my opinion, the best time to listen to music is right now due to the invent of social media. There are so many opportunities out there for independent artists, from fan support to selling music and promoting, and there are even great links for any information you may be seeking music wise. On the negative side, I think corporate music may be slipping out a little bit. What I mean by that is that the actual competition of a musician able to compose, produce, and sell his own music without a major label attached is what makes the corporates try to put on bigger glitzy shows. Some people might like all the theatrical things, but when I go to a show, I want to hear great music. I do not care much about performers swinging from ropes high above 25 dancers on a glittered flame throwing stage. Do not get me wrong, I have seen some great light shows and enjoyed them immensely. I guess that one hurdle I have to deal with is when my show goes to stage,I ask myself what type of show will I have? I try not to think about that stuff to much, staying on earth and focused is my main goal at this time.

I personally prefer releasing albums…
the reason being that I have a lot of material I want to get out there. In time, I know I will have a pretty decent fan base and I want to keep them happy and interested. An album, in my opinion, gives them more options to like or dislike a song because they have more to chose from of course, rather than a single which a potential fan may listen to and dislike and there goes your new fan! The album gives the artist more of a chance with a potential fan and maybe even a sale. After all, the fan has the option to purchase one or as many singles as they wish from an album. Concerning songs that might be great hits, the artist has the option to promote a single from an album all by itself, which in turn, promotes the album.

Social Media is a main stay for anyone…
trying to break into the business since the possibilities are really endless, aren’t they? As far as fan support, presentation of your product, communication and just observing how fans are reacting to your music, not to mention seeing and listening to all of those fabulous artists out there. At times though, it becomes a bit overwhelming trying to juggle between writing music, practicing, working on sounds and recording for 9 or 10 hours and then keeping up with all your social media correspondence. I spend 25% of my total work time in a week on social media and anything computer related.

If I had to choose, my Thanksgiving table would include…
Stevie Ray Vaughn, Joe Bonamassa, Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan and Robert Johnson. Since my music is so versatile, I feel a collaboration of ideas and stories from past and present artist would be the ultimate learning experience for someone like me. They are all GREAT! Let’s feast!

Being current and trendy…
all depends on your genre. Some types of music need to be showy and have different sounds and effects to be hip to the times, and other genres need to be more old school and real. Music is for the listener even if that listener is only the artists themselves. I do think though, that some genres of music tend to lean more toward trends and what is groovy for the times. And that is cool. It is all about being satisfied, either as a fan or as an artist, and if you are comfortable propping up your songs, there is nothing wrong with that as long as you are happy with the result. I do not even think about what is trendy or current. I just do my best to compose music to the best of my ability for the listener even if that listener is only me.

Donnie Jay is a Singer/Songwriter from Janesville Wisconsin. Over the years, Donnie has experimented with many genres of music such as Funk, Rock, Jazz, Folk and Adult Contemporary before finally settling into the wide variety of Blues.

At the age of 54, after having worked and studied his craft for quite some time, he is now taking the time needed to break into the “Music Biz”.

Although new to the recording industry, Donnie is a well-seasoned and multi-instrumental artist who composes, produces and performs all of his original music himself. Donnie Jay’s debut album is titled “Jelly Roll Jam” and the listener can without a doubt hear the musical influences that have molded Donnie’s music into the new and raw genre which he has created. Donnie Jay likes to refer to his compilation of “Indie Blues” as “Electric Blues Of A Different Voltage”! So, sit back, get comfy, and turn up your device! Enjoy!

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