Home Hear Jeff Evans Porkestra | I’m Going To Town: Exclusive Premiere

Jeff Evans Porkestra | I’m Going To Town: Exclusive Premiere

The southern-fried singer-songwriter heads for the big smoke in his new single.

The Jeff Evans Porkestra set their sights on hog heaven in their new single I’m Going To Town — premiering exclusively on Tinnitist.

The new single from the southern singer-songwriter and his band’s upcoming Willow Pillow EP, I’m Going To Town is a fresh take on a familiar cautionary tale — a cinematic, impressionistic coming-of-age ballad about a young man leaving home for the first time to strike out on his own and see what this big world is all about:

“Things around here move so slow
I got a great big life to live you know
Down the road and on with the show
Love you both but I gotta go
I’ll see you around
Goodbye Mama, goodbye Papa
I’m going to town.”

Channeling spiritual predecessors like Johnny Cash’s Don’t Take Your Guns to Town and countless other country, folk and blues classics, I’m Going To Town has a dark message at its heart. Coming off like a Southern-gothic Lou Reed, Evens lands a lyrical one-two punch of a couplet that hits somewhere on the spectrum from Hank Williams to Woody Guthrie: “Carry me home in a long black hearse / Lay me to rest outside the little white church.”

Photo by Carole Keith.

A sad ending? Sure. But it’s a great introduction to Willow Pillow. Due April 19, Evans and co.’s six-song EP presents a set of songs as singular as it is eccentric — a new, weird Americana inspired largely by the lightning spark of a new relationship, and all of the wonderful life upending changes that come with it. A veteran of the Atlanta roots / alt-country underground, Evans has released nine albums to date with his project Chickens And Pigs, and shared bills with Eric Lindell, Michelle Malone, Delta Moon, Southern Culture On The Skids and the late great Dex Romweber of Flat Duo Jets.

“Most of my songs are about animals, food and girls,” Evans says. “The name Chickens And Pigs came from a dream I had back in the late ’90s. My day job at the time was landscaping. One time, it rained and we didn’t have to go to work, so I took an early afternoon nap, and I had this extremely vivid dream. There was a barnyard full of animals milling around, and a stage with musical instruments. At some point a dog gets up on stage, steps to the mic and says to the barnyard animals, ‘Welcome chickens and pigs!’ And sure enough the chickens and pigs come up from the barnyard, start playing all these instruments, and it was the most amazing music I’ve ever heard. Almost like Sun Ra — some sort of space jazz. When I finally woke up, the band name stuck with me. So the name Porkestra is basically the punchline to a 25-year-old joke.”

The band for the Willow Pillow sessions consisted of singer-guitarist Evans and drummer Sandra Senn, who have worked together off and on since 2015. “Sandra has also played with me enough to know how to follow me,” Evans says. “I mean she doesn’t know everything I’m gonna do ’cause I don’t either — but she’s really good on the fly, good at catching what I’m doing and flipping directions. My song structures can be a little irregular, like the old blues guys — a few extra bars here, a couple less there. Sandra has become very intuitive playing with me and that makes a big difference.”

After Evans and Senn cut the tracks, producer / engineer Sean McPherson added bass on three songs. Guitarist Lars Nagel laid down some chiming, atmospheric leads, Silvia Medrano-Edelstein contributed percussion, and backing vocals were the work of Celeste Conway-Smith and Tracy Clark of Atlanta indie-rock mainstays Mystery Cassette and The Preakness.

Photo by Carole Keith.

The songs on the new EP were inspired by Evans finding new romance in his life, and are often driven by that unfolding love story, with all its thoughtfully meandering conversations and nascent cohabitation and trips taken together, from jaunts to local art galleries to epic European journeys. “My lyrical style is influenced by writers like P.G. Wodehouse,” Evans says. “He was an English novelist who lived to be 93 and wrote 92 books. Most of them are love stories, or people having trouble getting through the world stories. He’s a comedic writer who was around from the late 1800s to about 1970. I see a lot of connection between his writing and Mark Twain and even John Prine, who are some other key influences for me.

“My writing is very rhythmic, too, like the dialogue in Bugs Bunny cartoons. I like it pithy. A lot of my style comes from that, and some of it comes from 1920s and ’30s acoustic-blues fingerpicking and slide tunes, people like Blind Willie McTell and Mississippi Fred McDowell — in that music, there’s a lot of parable-type stories involving animals, alcohol, and men and women of both high and low morals.”

Evans grew up in rural Georgia and Florida, where he was exposed to everything from classic country to blues and rock. He and his younger brother discovered Lynyrd Skynyrd as kids, and his high-school basketball coach played the team Rolling Stones and Fleetwood Mac 8-tracks. Evans went to college in the music mecca of Athens, Ga., back when R.E.M. played clubs for $1 cover. He fell in love with that band, and also spent countless hours raiding his college roommate’s record collection. He found inspiration in the Stones, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty, decided he had to do it himself and, for the first time, picked up an acoustic guitar. The rest is, well, porkstory.

Listen to I’m Going To Town above, hear more from Jeff Evans below, and pig out on his Instagram and Facebook.