Originally from Chicago, RJ started out singing in church with his mom and around the campfire with his dad & grandpa, but ended up in a lot of bad places at wrong times. Now he lives in rural Tennessee, a storyteller with the backwaters of Americana and Blues running through his veins, writing songs that reflect the witty, gritty, tender and tough guy he is. From down tempo songs of jagged memories cutting deep to upbeat songs that swagger even when they swing, to been-around-the-block-a-few-times love songs, RJ’s music is both meaningful and entertaining.
RJ has toured as a solo artist from Canada to Florida including a five-week stint playing and recording in New Orleans and an official appearance at the Canadian Music Week Festival 2016. His powerful voice, captivating and emotional live performances, and infectious songs have garnered fans in biker bars, on Bourbon Street, and in coffee houses and concert halls. Talents as diverse as A.J. Croce, C.C. Adcock, and Grammy-winner Matt Hyde have produced tracks with RJ. He’s toured with Steve Forbert and toured the American Southwest playing dates with Sara Hickman and Guy Forsyth. After a show in Albuquerque, representatives from the New Mexico Americana Music Society described RJ as “refreshingly manly.”
As a recording artist, RJ’s garnered critical acclaim and chart success. His “Nightly Suicide” EP debuted on the AMA radio chart the week it was released in March 2016 and stayed on the chart for five months. Skope magazine described “Nightly Suicide” as an “absorbing and thought provoking album of six perfectly produced songs, which impress you to the marrow of your bones and leave you replaying them and reflecting . . . .” In 2015 RJ released a two-sided single “New Orleans Undercover,” which debuted at #2 on iTunes New Blues Releases Chart. “New Orleans Undercover” was recorded in New Orleans with New Orleans musicians featuring RJ’s close friend and 2012 National Banjo Hall of Fame inductee Lee Floyd. His debut solo EP “Hell Hole Swamp” (March 2015) included tracks produced in Lafayette, Louisiana by True Blood and Treme’ contributor C.C. Adcock and featuring the legendary Stanton Moore on drums and Artelius Mystic on sousaphone. RJ’s song “Smothered” from the “Hell Hole Swamp” EP is the title track and theme song to the feature film “Smothered” (written and directed by John Schneider).
RJ’s recent successes come after a long hiatus from music to work a “regular job”. He returned to music in 2009 and launched his first band the Dance Hall Pimps, a 7-piece blues rock show band with a horn section. They were quickly approached by two record labels and signed with Lakeshore Records. In 2012 the Dance Hall Pimps released their debut LP, Beast for Love. JiveWired described the LP as “A howling party record that’s infectious in all the right ways… a musically muscular package,” and RockWired praised it for its “Infectious hooks and mind blowing vocals.” RJ and the Dance Hall Pimps released their follow-up LP The Dead Don’t Walk (Growling Moon Records) on November 5, 2013.
RJ started doing solo shows in 2013 and quickly embraced his solo career, stepping away from the flamboyant party that was the Dance Hall Pimps and relaxing into a much more personal, intimate, and sometimes confessional vibe. His solo music ranges across the Americana landscape from swamp to rock, frequently streaked with Blues and dark humor, and always strongly rooted in Americana soil. At a live show or on a record, performing an original song or a cover, RJ insists on being truthful with his audience. He doesn’t shrink away from his experiences with addiction, violence, conscience, and redemption. He takes his audience into some dark places, but he always emerges into the light to hit the open road, have a laugh and show some love.