Musician Jason Lamson knows this very well. He said he is dedicated to all those things except the promotion part kind of gets away from him. He wishes he was better at it and said he thinks he’d be further than he is if he could just be better at advertising himself. At least while he is figuring that out, he’ll be busy practicing.
“Practice more,” he preaches. If there is one thing he would tell his younger self it would be, “Even if you already practiced, practice more than that and don’t be afraid to be told no. But I still am afraid to be told no,” he adds, “I don’t love self-promotion. I gotta find that balance.”
I know immediately as I interview Jason over a couple of beers at Willie T’s, at 525 Duval Street, where he performs three times a week, that he genuinely loves what he does with that cliché thing some people would recognize as a passion. Even though he had a slow start in the business and didn’t teach himself the guitar until the late age of 17, he still learned enough to do a few shows in his hometown of Richmond Hill, Ga., and at a couple of frat parties and open mic appearances once he went to college. He took a break at one point from playing for a couple of years so that he could focus on pursuing a degree in construction management. Just seven days after graduating he was hired to be a construction supervisor and immediately started working 10 – 12-hour days. The demanding routine was all that he needed to find his way back to music. He slowly started doing one or two shows a week in Savannah while trying to maintain an early morning schedule. He soon found that he only had enough time to be dedicated to one thing. He chose music.
“I wasn’t coping with career life,” Jason says, “I decided that I needed to start being who I was again.”
What Jason did know at an early age was that he could really sing. He knew it as soon as he could keep a rhythm. It started with choir, led to an instrument, which then developed into the gigs and eventually turned into a five-page contract to be the full-time head of entertainment and the house musician at the Green Room on the corner of Duval and Greene streets.
Six weeks after signing the papers, he and his girlfriend, Jordan, whom he happily married on May 27, packed up a U-Haul and made the journey south. However, when they arrived in Key West they found squatters at the house they were going to rent. With nowhere else to go, the couple, along with their dog, Charlie, slept on their mattress in what is now the office of the Green Room for a month before finding a place to call home.
Jason stayed at the Green Room for an entire year before deciding to explore other venues around town. These days his work week includes Mondays and Saturdays at 2:30 p.m. and Tuesdays at 11 a.m. at Willie T’s at 525 Duval St., Thursdays at 6 p.m. at Sunset Tiki Bar at 617 Front St. and Southernmost Hotel Shores Pool at 1319 Duval St. every Friday at 12 p.m. Whenever he can he also makes the occasional guest appearance at Island Dogs, Margaritaville, Sunset Pier and the Green Parrot.
I first met Jason when I was fostering a little wire-haired dog named Willis. I was on a random walk around town with Willis and just happened to make a quick pit stop at the Porch Craft Beer and Wine Bar on Caroline Street. He was there with his wife and we got into talking about rescue dogs and how they were actively looking to adopt. They weren’t planning on meeting Willis that day and falling in love with him on the spot, but it was the right place at the right time for the pup. The very next day he was at their house. It is still one of my favorite foster stories ever.
“It’s all about giving yourself second chances,” he says.
As we finish our beers, I asked Jason what else he does besides music and he goes quiet for a minute because he doesn’t know what to say. It’s all about music for him. When he’s not playing a show, he is at home learning theory and writing songs. He might not be the best salesman, but he is dedicated to his talent. I’m sure that when he is ready, he will get to where he needs to be. In the meantime, Key West is free to enjoy his soulful, southern homegrown sound and his natural sense of rhythm.
“Music brings a lot of people together who might not normally get to be together. It gives people something to do besides just going to a bar to drink. Sometimes, it’s all about going to see good music. Music to me is personal. It’s my business, my job and my life,” Jason tells me.
So, go ahead, go see one of his shows, enjoy some good music. Then do him a favor and tell your friends. Spread the news that we have a musician here by the name of Jason Lamson who is not just good, but is dedicated to being great. ¦