Making your way to the back of Austin’s Deep Eddy Cabaret, the fixtures feel timeless. From the jukebox in the back, to the people sitting at the bar, everything looks like it has stayed the same since its inception in 1951.
Bent over the pool table in the back of the bar is musician Jesse Woods. His cowboy boots and pearl snap shirt seem to make him another fixture that’s been in this place for decades. Taking his whiskey outside and lighting a cigarette, it’s hard to take him for a product of the eighties and nineties. Instead, he seems to be channeling the spirit of Townes and Waylon.
At 6 feet 4 inches tall with striking features, Jesse seems to tower over his microphone, commanding respect of even the most unruly audience. Whether he is performing at Cheer Up Charlie’s or taking the stage at Austin City Limits, the result is the same: melodic, almost haunting, vocals with impeccably arranged music behind them. Certain arrangements are more up beat and complex, while others are soft and simple, yet consistently Jesse’s voice is the thread that keeps it all together.
Based on the quality of his music and having played at festivals with the likes of Edward Sharpe and the Flaming Lips, it’s surprising that Jesse hasn’t become better known. “My passion is music, not self promotion. I love to create and contribute to music’s landscape,” Jesse says. In an industry filled with agents, labels and musicians at each other’s throats, his priority is to cut through any thoughts of self-glorification. “I’m in it for the music.”
With a new LP coming out in April, Jesse’s music will soon start to speak for him. Get Your Burdens Lifted is a ten-song album that displays his best work to date. Having spent time on the West Coast, these new tracks blend the pop of Northern California folk, with the story telling found in Texas songwriting.
Stepping up to the microphone at Cheer Up Charlie’s with his 1964 Gibson, everyone waits in anticipation to hear one of his new songs that hasn’t yet been revealed. As the music starts and Jesse begins to sing, the title of the album comes to mind – and the timeless hope we all share for a moment with less weight on our shoulders.