Interview with Jamie Dose of Velvet Truckstop

Southern rocker Jamie Dose of Asheville's Velvet Truck stop talks about his origins playing with former members of Skynyrd and the Dead, and how karaoke and video games are killing the soul of rock n' roll.

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This is our full interview with Southern Rocker Jamie Dose of Velvet Truckstop, from our Asheville issue.

Wand’rly:
So Velvet Truckstop is a rock n’ roll band, and somehow that’s become unusual over the last twenty years or so. In fact, being a true group of rock n’ rollers almost makes you alternative, since the alt scene is almost the predominant one these days. How did you come to be such a wonderfully traditional southern rock outfit and was your sound intentional, or just what ended up happening with your collaboration?
Jamie:
I would say that this bands sound has been intentional for two reasons. The first being my partner in crime: lead guitar player Dorsey Parker. Dorsey and I met in college at Appalachian State in 1996. We share the same interest in music. The bands we always listened to were the Grateful Dead, Rolling Stones, Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd (just to name a few). So these bands had a huge impact on how we grew up. Although with our new line-up (Ian Harrod and Jacob Baumann) I would also say that bands like Son Volt, Drivyn and Cryn and Wilco have also made huge impacts. The second major impact was Artimus Pyle. Dorsey and I both worked for him for seven years. This experience really made us want to combine the Southern Rock with a twist.
W:
Are you guys all from Asheville, or if not, how did you find your way here?
Jamie:
As I stated, Dorsey and I met in Boone of 1996. Dorsey is from Atlanta. I am from Woodstock Virginia. Ian is from Raleigh and Jacob is from Alabama I believe. We have had several incarnations of VT. Ian and Jacob are the “around town” best at what they do. Dorsey had played with them in other session work and they joined VT in 2011.
W:
Do you think of Asheville as a “best kept secret”? I ask because compared to places like Nashville, Austin, Portland, et al., I don’t think WNC comes immediately to mind when asking people where the best places to see music are in the country, but for it’s size, Asheville may pack more music into any given night than those more recognized places. Why do you think Asheville is able to stay small but go big?
Jamie:
Well Asheville is home…comparing it to Austin is unfair. We have played SXSW several times. It is just a bigger market with more people. Asheville on the other hand, retains a small town southern charm. It is a music city. One of the biggest concerts of the year nationally is held right here. The Warren Haynes Christmas Jam is an annual Bonaroo… I think that Warren being an Asheville native has had a big impact on what is going on in AVL. The other reason would be the energy and talent of the local artist. We have an abundance of really talented musicians, of all genres, some of which are designing new genres. This is a strength that you usually find in LA, Austin and New York. This alone validates the city of AVL as a music city. We also get a ton of National performers…I think they are curious and love the atmosphere. Artist love chaos.
W:
How do you end up getting to play with people like Skynyrd’s Artimus Pyle and ex-Grateful Dead members Tom Constanten and Buddy Cage, and getting them onto your records?
Jamie:
I met Artimus backstage at the Christmas Jam…we later bumped into each other at the Orange Peel, and the rest is history. I played guitar, as well as Dorsey, and sang lead in APB for 7 years. I wrote the music to a track on his latest album Artimus Venomus. He has been a great mentor and friend. I have toured the US, played with 4 original members of [Lynyrd Skynyrd], theres only one in the touring LS band now, and been given many opportunities. He taught me about performance and professionalism; and I owe him a ton of props…he is an amazing drummer with an amazing story. Tom Constanton was living in Charlotte at the time. I’m a big Deadhead. I started going on [Grateful Dead tours] when I was 14. I needed a keyboard player for some Charlotte gigs…my buddy Scarekrow said give TC a call. I did and boy was that fun! At the time we were working on “Sweet Release” and he agreed to play on it. He played at Woodstock! Wow, what an honor! He still sends me postcards and stuff…just an out of the box sort of player and an interesting human. Buddy Cage and I have known each other for a while. When New RPS come to town we get to hang. He has been another real positive influence on me. He plays Pedal Steel like an angel and a demon..all wrapped in one! He really helps us bring out that Rock face/ Country face on the album..BC is a hero in both his playing and attitude. Overall these instrument monsters respect VT and have been a driving motivator in our careers.
W:
Have you as a band, or as individuals, ever done any busking?
Jamie:
No busking..although it is popular in AVL. that would be way to hard for us to do!
W:
I’m always interested in hearing a band’s take on the state of interacting with music as a physical possession, and the lack thereof of that these days. Do you have any opinions on mp3s, downloads, etc. and how that’s changed music from the days of buying a record or CD and listening it from start to finish, having the book in your hands, and getting the whole experience?
Jamie:
[Laughs] Yup its changed. The rise of karaoke and video games have taking the soul out of Rock and Roll..which is probably why you don’t find it anymore. We travel backroads, write original material and play instruments. Its a dying art form. In these times, someone who has never played a gig can get a million hits on Youtube…and its probably not their song! We have entered the “Cliff Notes” for self expression…and its a little scary.
W:
I see you’ve played the Orange Peel way back in 2008, have you played there since? Perhaps not quite the nationally recognized venue back then that it is today, I’d still love to hear what it was like for you to play there, and if it’s a spot you’d like to play again.
Jamie:
We have played the OP…its great. Dorsey and I have played the Tacoma Dome…its better. AVL has become so competitive. There’s nothing like a big stage with great lights and good production. Several clubs around town are now offering that. We would be interested in doing more there…we just have more offers from Highland Brewing Company, Pisgah Brewing Company and the Emerald Lounge. Those are the right sized clubs for us…now…
W:
What kinds of places do you most enjoy playing? Big outdoors or packed dive bars? On the road or at home?
Jamie:
We enjoy playing in anywhere where the audience is respectful and into what we are doing!
W:
Is there a particular place in Asheville you would rather play than any other?
Jamie:
There are many Asheville bands that are super talented. From Bluegrass to world to experimental.
W:
Similarly, if you could see a favorite band in Asheville, and could choose where they’d play, where would you choose? What’s your favorite place to see music in town?
Jamie:
Jazz..they all deserve a chance to let their songs fill the air…

More on Velvet Truckstop in our Asheville music article. Photograph courtesy of velvettruckstop.com.