Jason Sells (aka Slate Dump) coming to V Club
Reposted from The Huntington-Herald Dispatch
Talking to Jason Sells over the phone, you get the sense that he has an old soul.
The 33-year old Beckley native and Memphis, Tennessee resident’s humble Raleigh County roots come through loud and clear.
“I don't care to talk about myself, honestly,” Sells said from Memphis as he ferried Sao Paulo, Brazil’s Jam Messengers (Rob K and Uncle Butcher) about, sightseeing during a few days off on their U.S. tour, which Sells (also known as Slate Dump) jumped on.
The tour brings Sells and The Jam Messengers to The V Club, 741 6th Ave., Friday, Jan. 28.
“I’m going to show them around Memphis,” Sells said. “We’re going to hit Graceland, Sun Studios, visit some graveyards, record stores and Beale Street. When we get to West Virginia, Marco (Butcher) is a big Hasil Adkins fan, and we plan on going to go clean Hasil’s grave and maybe lay some hot dogs down in his honor. We’ll maybe see if my buddy Jesco’s home, see if he wants to tag along.”
While Jesco White’s family calls Sells “nephew,” they’re not really related, just good friends.
“People ask me if I’m his nephew, but I’m not, in actuality. He’s been a close friend for over 10 years; I’ve taken him to the store, the post office, I took him to get his I.D. made at the Kanawha Mall,” Sells said laughing.
Sells, playing out as the minimalist, bluesy, roots-based Slate Dump for about five years, described how he got introduced to these Brazilian acts.
“About four or five years ago, a good friend of mine and another one-man band, J Marinelli, gave me the ‘Attack of the One Man Bands’ compilation CD,” he said. “He told me about guys like Chuck Violence, Chucrobillyman, Fabulous GoGo Boy from Alabama, and Uncle Butcher, of course. And I just fell in love. They’re doing cooler things than a lot of Americans right now. I kept in touch and told them if they were ever in America I’d be glad to try to set them up some shows.”
For Sells, even though he's in Memphis, after calling Morgantown home for a few years, his musical roots lie in Raleigh County.
“Raleigh Hollow, growing up on McQuillen hill,” Sells said. “My great-grandfather, Hughie McQuillen, had eleven kids, and during the depression he worked in the mines and played stringed instruments in bars at night, and was able to support all of his kids. I learned all my rudimentary chords from him and my grandmother, Doris McQuillen-Bennett. She’s 73-years old and still plays guitar. She loves Chuck Berry, Bill Withers; my grandmother is rockin’. Yeah, I learned the only four chords I know from them,” Sells said laughing.
There was also inspiration from other sources.
“My mom and my biological father used to take me to blues and folk festivals and let me run around naked, that had something to do with it,” Sells said. “Her record collection had a big influence on me, too. My stepfather introduced me to the Ramones, the Kinks and Butthole Surfers, which really warped my brain.”
After playing in a few bands as a teenager in and around Raleigh and Fayette counties, Sells kicked off his career as Slate Dump with more help from his grandmother.
“It wasn’t until 2005, I picked up my grandmother’s 1960 model Gibson, and the songs started comin’. In about a 48-hour period I wrote five or six good songs and I didn’t even know what to do with them.”
After a tough period “couch surfing” in Morgantown “living on Ramen,” Sells has found happiness in Memphis with his fiancé, Marly Hazen, who he met while she was studying at WVU. Hazen penned the lyrics for one of Sells’ songs on his most recent release, 2010’s ‘Electric Punching Machine.’”
“Yeah, she wrote the lyrics for ‘Collarbone,’ which has been requested pretty much everywhere I play. It's one of my favorite songs to play.”
Sells said he can’t wait to bring The Jam Messengers through Huntington and Morgantown.
“The college towns should love these guys,” he said. "They’re everything; glam, trash, punk and blues, and raw. They’re the kick in the (butt) that America has been needing for a while. I hope to continue bringing in this Brazilian influx, because we need the rhythms. We need to get back to the roots. I flip on the radio here in Memphis and there’s no blues or roots stations. One station will play blues from 9:30 to midnight. There’s rap, pop crap and top 20 country. But the Jam Messengers are going to kick all that in the (butt), I can promise you that.”
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