If Jake Worthington had a nickel for every time he heard honky-tonk is dead, he’d have himself a ranch down in the heart of Texas. But even then, he’d be singing it.
A genuine country article with neon coursing through his veins, a deep-drawling baritone and a soul that feeds on fiddle and steel, the soon-to-be star has heard all the eulogies for country’s most electrifying, iconic style. But with his debut album on Big Loud Records, he’s breathing fresh life into an American classic.
“I don't mind being a dark horse,” he says, welcoming his role as keeper of the honky-tonk flame. “Blame it on my raising, but I think there ought to be room for country in country music. It took me a long time to get here, but I'm ready to go to work.”
Raised in La Porte, Texas, a “chemical-plant town” just down the road from Houston, that hardworking, blue-collar attitude comes natural to this hellbent singer-songwriter – and despite his youth, so does his pure-country devotion.
Built into the fabric of his upbringing, traditional country music seemed to surround Worthington as a kid, from the radio stations he heard, to the TV shows he watched … and even the family heroes he looked up to.
Back in the 1970s and ‘80s, it was Worthington’s grandfather taking his shot at a neon dream, a self- taught songwriter/producer who founded his own publishing firm. He never scored any big hits, his grandson explains. The country mainstream of the day was much like it is now – overlooking its roots in the name of progress, and the Urban Cowboy phase. But every Christmas, grandpa would tell stories of the glory days and bust out an old guitar, playing twang-laden original tunes and classics by Ray Price, Merle Haggard, or George Jones. And in those moments, a seed was planted.
“I can't imagine my upbringing without country music,” Worthington explains now. “It’s just always been a huge part of my life.”