Toledo native Lindsay has his head in the ‘Clouds’Written by Mike Bauman | | email@example.com
JT and The Clouds singer/songwriter Jeremy “JT” Lindsay is a creative guy who has fun making music, a passion that can be heard in his tunes with The Clouds, Po’ Girl’s Allison Russell and his solo work as JT Nero.
But music is not the only area in which Lindsay has fun with his creativity.
Read his artist bio and you’ll discover that the Toledo native’s two biggest musical influences were Meadowlark Lemon and Curly Neal of the Harlem Globetrotters, men he learned doo-wop songs and spirituals from while his father played with the Washington Generals, the most famous opponent of and lovable loser to the Globetrotters. Or not.
“That’s a big fib that we’ve been jokingly putting around,” said Lindsay, whose parents were really English professors at the University of Toledo while he was growing up. “We kind of put that out there just for laughs, and also because I get so sick of boring artist bios. So I thought I’d put a little color in there.”
Lindsay’s whimsy doesn’t stop there. The name JT and The Clouds came from a dream he had where he saw that displayed on a marquee, while JT Nero was birthed out of playful homage to Garth Brooks’ alter ego Chris Gaines. Prior to that, no one had ever referred to him as “JT.”
“The music is very sacred to us, but we try not to take the rest of it too seriously because if you do, it’ll drive you completely insane,” Lindsay said. “It might drive you insane anyway, but that’s kind of our philosophy about it.”
On Feb. 15, Lindsay — as JT Nero — will perform with Russell at The Ark in Ann Arbor in support of the duo’s upcoming record. The pair met when Lindsay was in San Francisco performing with Michelle McGrath in The Capital Sun Rays.
When Lindsay moved to Chicago in 2002 to be with his brother Drew and other Toledo transplants Dan Abu-Absi and Chris Neal, JT and The Clouds — rounded out by Chris Merrill and Mike August — was soon born. After a few years of touring and building a name, Lindsay said things really took off musically when the band joined Po’ Girl’s first show in the Midwest.
The groups built a relationship and would trade shows in Chicago and Po’ Girl’s home base of Vancouver, and Russell asked Lindsay to accompany her band on tour overseas at the end of 2006.
“They were actually doing a version of one of our songs —“’Til It’s Gone” — on their album, so they asked me to come,” Lindsay said. “And I just opened for them solo and then would often sit in with them. That was the first time that I was able to, like, cut ties with a job and was just out on the road and literally seeing the world for the first [time] to tour through the U.K. and Europe.
“That was a pretty intoxicating experience, and it just felt right. It felt like I had found my job, you know?”
After that, Lindsay said Po’ Girl and JT and the Clouds became “sister-brother” bands, collaborating on each other’s music. The response to those collaborations led to the pair doing a project together.
“In the music world, there’s so much music out there and there’s so many people,” Lindsay said. “And there’s a ton of music that either maybe you respect or you even like, but it doesn’t just grab you on a gut level or you don’t feel that kind of like, ‘Oh, that’s our tribe; that’s our family; that’s kin.’
“So when you do meet people that you have that connection with musically and personally, you’ve got to grab onto it, regardless of whether they’re in Vancouver or Madagascar. You’ve just got to make it happen, and we did.”
Written in the Americana vein with elements of folk, rock, gospel and soul, Lindsay’s latest work as JT Nero —“Mountains/Forests” — was named the No. 2 album of 2011 by Americana UK, second only to Wilco. And while some bands get testy when its members pursue other projects, The Clouds and Po’ Girl fully support each other’s endeavors.
“There’s different little permutations and angles that we put out there in the world, but it kind of always comes back to the same family of musicians,” Lindsay said. “Allie just, like, immediately fit right into that family. Nobody ever had to think about that twice.”
On Feb. 15, JT Nero and Allison Russell will perform at The Ark, located at 316 South Main St. in Ann Arbor. Tickets are $15. Doors are at 7:30 p.m. and the show starts at 8 p.m. For more information, visit theark.org.