Smile Politely

Three questions with Jay Rosenstein of Woke Mountain Boys

Two musicians stand in the field with their instruments. The person on the left is wearing a black cowboy hat and has a guitar. The person on the right has an upright base.
Woke Mountain Boys on Facebook

“Professor Jay,” as he’s affectionately known, is gearing up for the album release this week for his band Woke Mountain Boys, and he graciously agreed to respond to my silly questions. You can hear the new music at their album release party on Thursday, June 6th at Rose Bowl Tavern.

Smile Politely: If you could choose any historical figure to join the Woke Mountain Boys for a one-night performance, who would it be and why? What song would you make sure you played with them?

Jay Rosenstein: Well, the musical answer to that question is easy and obvious: Jerry Garcia. Every aspect of our music sits right smack-dab in Jerry’s wheelhouse. Electric guitar, acoustic guitar, banjo, pedal steel, whatever — Jerry could play any of those on any of the songs and it would be beyond sublime. So it could be any song that I wrote. To have Jerry play on a song of mine…well, my head is exploding just thinking about it.

But, from a non-musical, American citizen perspective, it would be either John Adams or Thomas Jefferson. The Woke Mountain Boys would clear the stage, and I would have one of them explain exactly what the second amendment is supposed to mean. And of course, force the Supreme Court to listen. That would be the most important performance I could ever be involved in.

SP: If you had to rename your band based on your most recent Google search, what would it be?

Rosenstein: “Peggy-O lyrics,” “You Belong To Me Bob Dylan chords,” or “F9 chord variations.” Do you see a pattern here? Also “Punctuation For an Hour and A Half” because I was copy-editing one of my daughter’s latest music interviews. I learned a lot about grammar from grading student papers as Professor Jay.

SP: Imagine you are organizing a dream music festival. Which three bands or artists, alive or dead, would you invite, which one would you bring onstage with you to play a Woke Mountain Boys song with you, and what would the song be?

Rosenstein: Number 1: Old and In the Way. That album [by them] was the doorway that led me into bluegrass, something not at all uncommon for hippies, or in my case, hippie wanna-be’s. 

Number 2: The ORIGINAL Flying Burrito Brothers. It has to be the original group with Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman, the Gilded Palace of Sin Burritos. What an album. One caveat: most people don’t realize that the Burritos played at Altamont, so maybe they would be bad luck to bring to a music festival. Nah, let’s just blame Mick Jagger for that one. 

Number 3: I have to go with the Cowboy Junkies. I would absolutely love to hear the Cowboy Junkies play my song “I Owe Time.” If you have a connection to them, please send them that song. If they played it, I think I would just stand on the side and watch them.

Woke Mountain Boys album release party
Rose Bowl Tavern
106 N Race St
Th June 6th, 8 p.m.
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