The Rocks Off 100: Jack Saunders, Dealer of Grit & Jangle
Welcome to the Rocks Off 100, our portrait gallery of the most compelling profiles and personalities in the far-flung Houston music community -- a lot more than just musicians, but of course they're in there too. See the entire Rocks Off 100 at this link.
Who? Jack Saunders is one of Houston's most dependable singer-songwriters and guitarists, and is rarely lacking for work. Alongside Shake Russell, he was one-half of arguably the most popular folk duo around these parts for most of the '80s and into the '90s. He has also released four albums of his own material, and seems to be picking up the pace -- his brand-new Grit & Jangle comes hot on the heels of last year's A Real Good Place to Start; Saunders says the new album has "more of an emphasis on the rock side of folk and country."
Photos courtesy of Jack Saunders
Saunders grew up a Navy brat, bouncing around California, Rhode Island, Alaska, "and many states in between." When the British Invasion dawned, so did his life's ambition: "make girls scream!" A friend bringing by a Bob Dylan record steered Saunders toward the songwriting side of the continuum, he adds.
As a sideman, Saunders has played with many top troubadors, including Ray Wylie Hubbard, Greg Trooper, Randy Weeks, Susan Gibson, and Hayes Carll. He has also produced and/or recorded dozens of titles at Houston's White Cat Recording, the studio Saunders opened in 1996.
Good War Story: "I was playing a roadhouse gig in a small town on the way to Abilene, called Mingus, Tex., with Ray Hubbard," Saunders says. "Ray was known in his younger days as the hard-living life of the party.
There was a group of three women who were telling Ray they had some great pictures of the last time he played there -- he's been sober for a long time -- and that made him pretty nervous. When they brought the pictures to the stage to let him see, I glanced down and noticed that the guy in the photo was really Gary P. Nunn!
One Texas icon was the same as the next, I guess. During the break they all wanted to have their pictures taken with me. I told them, "You know I'm not Ray Hubbard, right?" They looked totally confused and wandered off...