Fiddle Player for The Band Perry Says He Wants to Punch Alan Jackson in the Face


About the only thing more sad to witness than the absolute implosion of The Band Perry over the last 18 months to 2 years has been the implosion of ESPN. While The Band Perry has been trying to elicit attention from utterly confused fans by making a failed attempt to move to pop, ESPN has been laying off actual sports journalists and prominent on-air personalities because of their poor business practices, and been replacing them with scab-level amateurs and castoffs from other industries.

The two embarrassing stories have now coincided as a former fiddler for The Band Perry named Jason Fitz, who left the band last August, has been hired on by ESPN as a sports personality. To chum the waters of attention for Fitz, he appeared on an ESPN’s Ryen Russillo Show last week and participated in a segment where callers asked him to spill gossip on country personalities. The very first question out of the chute was who in country music Fitz would most want to punch in the face, and without hesitation, Jason Fitz answered:

“Alan Jackson. Wholeheartedly. Alan Jackson. All day. Everyday.”

Jason Fitz’s stupid reasoning? “Played with Alan Jackson on a TV thing years ago like in a big orchestra, and it was a Christmas special, and he didn’t like the mix in his monitors, and he would only sing one word, ‘Have.'” Fitz says. “It was ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.’ He kept going, ‘Have … Have…’ And he didn’t like the mix and he’d walk off after one word. It was the worst experience. So yeah, Alan Jackson top of the list.”

Anyone in the music business knows that checking monitors can be one of the most tedious experiences to witness, but it’s also imperative to make sure the performers can hear themselves properly. Perhaps The Band Perry’s pitchy and breathy lead singer Kimberly Perry could take a few pointers from Alan Jackson, who’s sold some 80 million records worldwide, has 35 #1 singles to his name, and is in the Country Music Hall of Fame.

In fact one of the reasons Alan Jackson was so insistent about his monitor mix is probably because he’s one of the few performers who actually sings live. Once when asked to perform to a backing track—as country artists are regularly asked to do, especially on TV specials—Alan Jackson told his drummer to perform without sticks just to clue the national audience into what was happening.

Things got even more interesting when a caller named Ryan from Dallas called into the ESPN show and said, “I don’t even know who the guy is that’s on there {referring to Jason Fitz}, but the question I have is why does new country music sound like pop, and it’s totally gone away from the 80’s, the classic country, the Waylon, the Merle, and now it’s just pop music?”

Jason Fitz on the ESPN TV set
Jason Fitz on ESPN TV

“Because you guys won’t buy it,” was Jason Fitz’s response. “Everybody wants old school country, but nobody actually pays for it, and nobody actually calls in and requests it. That’s why ‘Cruise’ is the biggest-selling song of all time in country music.”

But this isn’t true in the slightest. Chris Stapleton’s From A Room: Vol. 1 is the first and only record released in 2017 to be certified Gold by the RIAA in country music so far. Records from classic country artists, and independent up-and-comers consistently chart and sell better than many of their mainstream counterparts. Jason Isbell just received a #1 country record with his latest, The Nashville Sound. For the last two weeks on the country albums charts, three of the top four names have been Chris Stapleton, Jason Isbell, and Chris Stapleton (Stapleton’s debut Traveller has also been experiencing a resurgence in sales).

Meanwhile the reason more contemporary country bands sell so poorly is specifically because their fans do not buy music. They only stream the hot new single on Spotify. And as for calling radio stations to request songs, this has obviously been a dead and fruitless process for many years since consolidation has put the power of playlist construction into the hands of corporate bureaucrats who are bought by the mainstream country music industry.

The very next caller to the Ryen Russillo Show also made another important counterpoint to Jason Fitz’s flawed logic.

“All I’ll say is I saw Sturgill Simpson in Raleigh, and he sold out that, and he sold out [another venue] down here as well, and that ain’t the pop-ish [country music],” Mike in North Carolina said.

Meanwhile The Band Perry’s last few singles have failed demonstrably in both the country and pop realms. Their big country comeback “The Comeback Kid” couldn’t crack the Top 40 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, and their first truly pop single “Stay in the Dark” fizzled at #23 on the Adult Contemporary charts without denting the pop charts. If The Band Perry would have just stuck to their roots instead of overreaching for superstardom, perhaps they would still be relevant, and would be able to offer gainful employment to a fiddle player like Jason Fitz.

During the ESPN interview, Jason Fitz also spilled the beans that The Band Perry apparently don’t like Little Big Town.

“Yeah, I would say there’s beef,” Fitz said in response to a caller. “I think The Band Perry—The Perry’s specifically—had a beef with Little Big Town. I think that was natural. You had two vocal things. I think a lot of times what happens like is artists that are similar will look at each other and say, ‘Why that guy and not this guy?'”

It’s fair to note that these quotes were from a radio segment meant to stir the pot and create attention for Jason Fitz as a new ESPN personality, and they certainly did that. But to vilify Alan Jackson for wanting his monitor mix to be right in a pre-production moment when the mainstream country music industry is chock full of other scoundrels and cheats Jason Fitz could have named for a face punch, it seems like a cheap shot.

The quotes can be heard in context starting at about the 19 minute mark. Jason Fitz has been hosting shows on ESPN’s Nashville affiliate 102.5 The Game for a while.

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