Photo by Kristin Barlowe
If you’re heading to the Eagles show at Nationwide Arena on Sunday, you might want to show up in time to see opening act, JD & The Straight Shot who will be hitting the stage promptly at 7pm. Led by frontman/guitarist James Dolan, JD & The Straight Shot’s brand of roots-inspired rock will serve as a pleasant lead in to the Eagles Southern California country-rock.
I recently caught up with JD & The Straight Shot guitarist Marc Copely to ask a few questions about the band and his impressive resume which includes playing with everybody from B.B. King to Roseanne Cash as well as being a solo artist with two albums under his belt.
JD & The Straight Shot will be playing Columbus on April 8th with Eagles, with more Eagles dates and shows also with The Doobie Brothers and Chicago coming up over the next month or two. Any more touring plans in 2018 or is that something you find out about sort of last minute? Is there anything else on your plate in 2018 – playing with any other bands? Putting out any music?
It’s looking like we’ll be doing more Eagles dates which is a thrill for us! We love playing with them and are one of our biggest influences.
Also, a new record is coming in the Fall!
What was the experience like producing JD & The Straight Shot’s new album Good Luck And Good Night?
I had a good time producing the record and feel that I had a real leg up by knowing the band and their individual talents intimately.
I recently watched the documentary Hired Gun on Netflix. I’m sure you’ve heard of it, probably even seen it. As I looked over your resume, I hadn’t realized that you’ve played with a lot of different artists over the course of your career. With JD & The Straight Shot, would you consider yourself a hired gun or is this a permanent gig (one of many?) where you have equal input into all aspects of the band?
Well, this is frontman Jim’s band that he started long before any of us were in it, so it’s really his baby. That being said, we do all participate in lots of the decisions a band needs to make and we all collaborate.
The resumes of the rest of the band are as impressive as yours. When I was growing up and buying albums, cassettes and CDs, I always spent time looking at liner notes and I’m sure I’ve seen your and Adam Levy’s names, they jumped out at me. As The Straight Shot was assembled, was it the case of JD & The Straight Shot frontman JD reaching out to people he hand picked to be in the band or was it a domino effect where he reached out to one person and then that person reached out to somebody they knew and next think you know, you’ve assembled an amazing band?
Jim and I discussed where the band needed to go and where we wanted to go musically, then I went out and found some people that fit the bill and we auditioned them. We built the current line up when I relocated to Nashville and made more of an acoustic vibe.
I’ve been listening to Limited Lifetime Guarantee, your solo album from 2002, and I wouldn’t trace the line from that effort to JD & The Straight Shot’s new album Good Luck and Good Night. I don’t think any musician should ever be pigeonholed – you play what you like and what pays the bills. In the early ’90s, I was a total hair metal guy and while I still listen to that music (and, yeah, love it!), my tastes have expanded over time so I think it’s fair to say that there is something in both your solo album(s) and the music you’re making with JD & The Straight Shot that gives you artistic satisfaction but is there a certain style of music that you prefer to play?
I like making good music, so that what I try my best to do. I studied jazz, played in blues and rock bands, played on country records and on a bunch of soundtracks and it’s all really the same to me. It’s only that it’s played a little differently or on a different instrument. A G note is a G note. The way you play it designates the style.
You’ve had experience over the course of your career to play in front of some pretty large crowds so serving as the opening act on this run with the Eagles isn’t necessarily anything new but do you still sometimes stand in amazement as the house lights go down and think, “Wow, I can’t believe I’m here”?
Every single show!
That being said, I’m guessing you’ve probably played on stages the size of a shoebox as well and everywhere in between. Can you describe the most memorable shows you’ve had in each of the following venues:
5,000 seat theater
10,000 seat amphitheater
25,000 seat arena
I don’t know if I’ve had memorable shows in all sizes, but one stadium show we played opening for Eagles and Dixie Chicks was so hot, we clocked it at 111 degrees on stage when we went on. Pretty memorable. Haha.
I work a corporate 9-to-5 gig. I don’t know that I’m expected to be at peak performance the entire time I’m at work, but those are the hours I’m expected to be at least sitting at my desk or being in the office. I totally understand that your job is way more than just an hour on stage while on tour but I have to imagine that, just like me, there are some days where you go to work and say, “Yeah, I’m just not feeling it today.” You don’t have the luxury of calling in sick but when you’re having an off day, and have plenty of time leading up to the show where the spotlight isn’t on you, what do you do to put on your game face and go out and do your job?
That’s what being a professional is. You go out and do your best. I’d guess it’s closer to what an athlete feels. Some nights the ball goes in the basket easier than others.
It’s probably different in every situation but because you’ve already done some touring with the Eagles, you’re not strangers to the band or their road crew. Do you have opportunities to hang out with them or is it very business like where you only cross paths – if at all – when passing each other in the dressing rooms hallway at an arena?
We hang! We’re pretty tight with some of the Eagles guys. Steuart Smith is one of my favorite guitar players ever, so I always try to listen to him play and hang out hoping it’ll somehow rub off on me!
Not too long ago, I started thinking that it’s been a while since I’ve heard Billy Squier’s name – I had recently picked up a copy of an album he did with the band Piper (that’s my youngest daughter’s name) and was wondering if he’s active, recording any music or playing any shows. From what I can tell, outside of a few rare live appearances he does (maybe?) every year, he’s pretty much of the limelight. I saw that you toured as a guitarist in his band 10-ish years ago. Was that a thrill, playing songs that were all over FM radio in the ’80s or was it just another paying gig? Do you think that we’ve probably seen and heard the last of Billy or does your gut tell you that we might get some more music from him before all is said and done?
Playing with Billy was a dream gig for me for sure. To plug into a 100 watt Marshall every night…? How can that not be fun?? I love his songs and his voice was as good as it was when he recorded the albums. I don’t think he ever missed a note and does everything in the original keys. Really incredible. What I’d like to see is another Billy Squier album. He certainly has it in him and as a friend and a fan, I want to hear it.
I’m not sure if this is something you want to answer and/or name names – if you do, great. If you don’t want to answer, totally cool, you can skip over this one. Has there been any gigs you auditioned for that you really, really wanted but were passed over for another guitarist?
Oh sure…I auditioned for SNL years ago and didn’t get it. Totally bummed me out. But hey, you move on and now I’m playing in a band that’s really a band. Every member is totally distinct, and I’m thrilled with that.