Jefferson Pepper writes and sings socially-conscious folk-rock songs. Combining alternative rock, country, punk, folk and bluegrass, he inhabits an eclectic, rootsy territory all his own. Expanding on the tradition of singer-songwriters like Hank Williams, Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, John Prine, Neil Young and Steve Earle, he exposes the fat, soft underbelly of conformity and the status quo and tears them wide open with biting, razor-sharp lyrics and straightforward vocal delivery.
In 2005, Jefferson Pepper took out a second mortgage on the modest, wood-sided home he built in the hills of rural south-central Pennsylvania in order to finance the recording of his debut release, 'Christmas in Fallujah'. His inspiration was David Maples, a 21-year-old neighbor kid; A kid Jefferson and his wife had watched grow up; a kid who went along on family vacations; a kid who caught lightning bugs and frogs and played games in the backyard on warm summer nights. David was a dimpled dreamer with aspirations of becoming a doctor. With no money for college or medical school, David joined the Army to train as a medic. David was shipped off to Iraq.
Jefferson Pepper was angry.
As with many who watched the horrors of the Iraqi quagmire unfold, Jefferson felt helpless. So, he did what he had to do to communicate the feelings that would not be considered appropriate in polite conversation: he wrote songs.
The grandson of coal miners and farmers and the son of a factory worker, Jefferson Pepper has experienced firsthand the challenges of living the American Dream. Over the years he has worked as a stock clerk in a grocery store, a bricklayer, a landscaper and a factory worker. He identified at an early age with the uphill battles faced by working people.
The debut album from Jefferson Pepper explores the darker side of the American social and political landscape with songs that are both profound and undeniably catchy. Stories are told from the vantage points of, among others, a disillusioned soldier stationed in Iraq (Christmas in Fallujah), a bloated defense contractor growing fat on the breast of the nanny-state (M-16), a regretful lover lamenting a failed relationship (Bethlehem, PA), the collective restlessness of our culture (Interstate Highway), one man's loathing of dehumanizing, homogenizing architecture and short-sighted residential planning (Stranded), an unemployed factory worker (Back To 1999), a spurned lover (Christmas Tree), a disillusioned child (Deceived), and a soldier's grieving mother (Why?). An amped-up version of Woody Guthrie's 'This Land Is Your Land' puts it all into context. References range from Enron, Osama Bin Laden and Woodrow Wilson to Frank Lloyd Wright, Santa Claus and the Wizard of Oz. 'Christmas in Fallujah' is vital Americana music as a vehicle for social change.
Pepper's debut album, 2005's 'Christmas in Fallujah' hit # 23 on the Freeform American Roots Chart for the month of November 2005 and # 13 on the Euro Americana Chart for the month of December, 2005. The album also hit # 1 on the Roots Music Report Folk Radio Chart and # 10 on the Roots Top 100 Chart during the week of January 17, 2006. It has received airplay across the US, New Zealand, Australia and Europe and has been greeted with critical acclaim from reviewers around the world. The music critic Geraint Jones(UK), pronounced 'Christmas in Fallujah' "one of 2005's best" and Malcolm Carter of Pennyblack Music (UK), called 'Christmas in Fallujah' "the year's best album".
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Read Reviews of 'Christmas in Fallujah'
Read reviews by Pennyblack Music (UK), Americana-UK (UK), Rootstime (Belgium), Kindamuzik (Europe), AltCountry.nl (Netherlands), Real Roots Cafe (Netherlands), MazzMusikas (Belgium), Whisperin' and Hollerin'(Ireland), Roots Music (UK), Comes With A Smile (UK), Forth Worth Weekly (US), The Harvard Independent (US), The Appleton Post-Crescent (US), Hanx (Netherlands), Il Popolo Del Blues (Italy), Slacker Country (US), Billy Bob (Belgium), Mescalina (Italy), Rock n Reel Magazine(UK), Freemusic.cz (Czech Republic), NetRhythms (UK), Home of Rock (Germany), Gaesteliste (Germany), Christmas Reviews.com (US), Le Cri Du Coyote (France), OX (Germany), Musikkguiden Groove (Norway), FileUnder (Netherlands), SonicWave Magazine (Spain), Mistletunes (US), Nicky Stardust (US), and Lonesome Highway (Ireland).
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WHAT ARE THE CRITICS SAYING ABOUT JEFFERSON PEPPER'S AMERICAN EVOLUTION ? . . .
"If I had to say who I think is the most important artist in music today I would, without a moment's hesitation, say Jefferson Pepper. The man is a genius...Early comparisons to greats such as Bob Dylan and Neil Young were well founded...This Pennsylvanian is, at this moment in time, getting his message across in his music better than anyone else." Malcolm Carter, Pennyblack Music (UK)
Jefferson's writing is excellent, thought provoking and original...All considered, lyrically this could easily be one of the strongest CDs to be released (this year)." Cashbox Magazine (US)
"Pepper's intelligent lyrics are matched by strong melodic tunes with memorable choruses...highly original contemporary Americana." Phil Suggitt, Shindig Magazine (UK)
"An impressive and thoughtful project..." Mike Davies, NetRhythms (UK)
"Amazingly well-crafted..." The Belfast Telegraph (Northern Ireland)
"His understanding of a wide variety of music genres and subgenres make him as much of a patriot as his opinions." Tom Geddie, Fort Worth Weekly (US)
"There are too many highlights to give any of the seventeen songs on Volume 1 prominence over others, but if Volumes 2 and 3 maintain the same level of quality, 'American Evolution' deserves to become one of the most remarkable releases of the year, and possibly the century so far...the very definition of Americana." David Innes, Rock N Reel Magazine (UK)
"One of the better lyricists of our present time." Eduardo Izquierdo, Sonicwave (Spain)
"10 out of 10...One of the reasons Jefferson Pepper is emerging as such a potent force is that he writes brilliantly when addressing the personal as well as the political." Tim Peacock, Whisperiin and Hollerin (Ireland)
"What really sets Pepper apart from the much maligned mainstream (country) genre is the quality of the lyrics." Alan Martin, AllGigs (UK)
"An expansive concept that undoubtedly contains something for everyone...Pepper is a skilled lyricist who manages to pull off with relative ease what would be a mind-blowing concept to many." Neal Parsons, The Skinny (Scotland)
"It is worth your time if you like your good ole boys blessed with a brain and a pedal steel guitar." Paul Pledger, AllGigs (UK)
"As music projects go, Jefferson Pepper's latest set of releases is a magnificent achievement in concentrated yet voluminous output...If there is a record which will stand the test of time and encapsulate the uneasiness with which Americans live with their own politics and religion, this should be it." Soundfires (UK)
"I have a thing about admiring people that set out on ambitious creative projects with an over-hanging purpose. Jefferson Pepper is truly embracing that vision." Anders Svendsen, Luna Cafe (Norway)
"One of the first things that strikes you about Pepper's music is not only how timeless it sounds, but how modern it is while drawing so heavily on the past...American Evolution is a phenomenally intelligent album, dressing up it's protest songs in music so beautiful you can't resist, feeding you it's politics in a cup of honey rather than shoving them down your throat." Jenni Cole, MusicOMH (UK)
"He's an assured lyricist with a gift for narrative which succeeds in providing the philosophical concerns with sufficient resonance and context...American Evolution has a passion and humanity which is thoroughly endearing." Kai Roberts, Americana-UK
Click here to read reviews of Jefferson Pepper's American Evolution
For the past several years, Jefferson Pepper has been asking himself “What has happened to my country?” For Pepper, it was a notion that he could not let go. For him, it wasn’t just a rhetorical, abstract question. He wanted answers. He started reading. And writing songs.
Lots of songs.
He spent the winters of 2006 and 2007 holed up in his cedar-sided home studio in the Conewago Mountains of southern Pennsylvania. As the snow piled up outside, he became more and more reclusive, sometimes going for several weeks at a time without leaving the house. For two years he worked feverishly on writing and recording the songs that would be included on his sophomore effort, the follow-up to his acclaimed 2005 debut album 'Christmas in Fallujah'.