When internationally acclaimed singer-songwriter Jason Ringenberg created his family music character Farmer Jason in 2003, he had no idea he was launching what would prove to be the most commercially successful creation of his storied career. With Jason and the Scorchers, he pioneered the fusion of punk rock and country that turned the music world on its ear in the mid-1980s. Their first record, Lost and Found, still shows up on critics’ “best of the 1980s” lists, and there is an exhibit of them in the Country Music Hall of Fame. When Jason went solo in 1999, the London Times called him “one of the most dynamic live performers of his generation.” In 2008 the Americana Music Association awarded the band their Lifetime Achievement Award. Jason could rest easily, assured that his place in rock ‘n’ roll history was secure.
However, with two sweet, beautiful, preschool daughters missing Daddy Jason during his 200 dates a year touring schedule, Jason wanted to make a cd that his kids could listen to while he was out globetrotting. Since they lived on a small farm near Bon Aqua, Tennessee, and Jason grew up on an Illinois hog farm, he reckoned that a roots oriented record about farming and farm animals was just the ticket. Hence the first Farmer Jason cd, A Day at the Farm with Farmer Jason, was born. He released it “purely for fun” in the fall of 2003, delighted to hear his daughters singing along. That was the peak of his ambition for it.
To his surprise, soon lots of other daughters and little sons were singing along as well. Disney’s magazine Family Fun called it “one of the Top 5 Family CDs of 2003.” Farmer Jason, Jason Ringenberg’s “twin brother” (wink wink), was soon doing concerts from inner city schools in Brooklyn to country fairs in rural Norway. In 2006 he released Rockin' in the Forest with Farmer Jason. With its stick in your head hooks and subtle lessons about ecology and nature appreciation, the record earned rave reviews, including the Parents Gold Choice Award. Its success generated even heavier touring around the world, including many major European and US festivals. At the huge Stagecoach festival USA Today called the Farmer Jason show “one of the most memorable of the festival.”
In Tennessee, Nashville Public Television took notice of this new sensation in their back yard, and produced an educational interstitial video series starring Farmer Jason based on songs from the two cds called It's Farmer Jason! To everyone’s delight and surprise, the program won an Emmy Award for Best Children's Program in the Mid South Region in 2009. Using those videos and more new footage, Farmer Jason released the It's a... Farmer Jason! DVD in May of 2009. One reviewer for Dadnabbit called it “…instantly memorable fun… everything you would want in entertainment for your young ones.”
What started out as a simple side project to entertain his own daughters has grown into a worldwide band wagon pulled by a tractor and a singing farmer. You can bet the tractor will keep on rolling. Climb aboard and grab a pitchfork…or a guitar…