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The Jared Stout Experience



The first time I saw The Jared Stout Band, they were playing in a cove on a floating dock at Claytor Lake State Park. It was billed as a “Paddle In” concert and Stout, the singer and lead guitarist, performed facing out to a lake full of paddle boarders and kayakers, who had come to hear the band play.

The Jared Stout Band draws a crowd pretty much anywhere they play, as they are well known for their unique blend of musical genres and, of course, they’re known to bring the party.

“We call it Appalachian rhythm and blues,” said Stout of his music. “We’re mountain people and we have the rhythm to make you move. All of our music has a hip swing or turning movement.”

The Jared Stout Band’s most recent show was at the Rock House Marina, where they played last Monday afternoon. This was the final engagement on a typically busy slate of tour dates that included a club gig in Lynchburg, a vineyard in Basset, the Parkway Brewery in Salem, the Dogtown Roadhouse in Floyd and the Blue Mountain Barrel House in Arrington, Virginia.

Jared Stout looked right at home as he and two his two band mates belted out the tunes on the deck of the Rock House Marina.

“The Rock House Marina is the place I went when I was a young boy,” Stout recounted. “I spent a lot of time on Peak Creek, where growing up I learned to knee board and wakeboard and tubing and all those good things. We used to come out here and pull up the catfish lines and see if we could get anything. This was long before Mountain 2 Island was here. It’s cool to come out and play here because I’ve been coming here since I was a kid.”

Stout spent most of his childhood in Blacksburg but went to boarding school for his first two years in high school. He then attended Giles High School his junior and senior years.

“Even when I lived in Giles, I went to school there and played on the sports teams but if I was doing anything outside of school, it was probably in Blacksburg,” Stout admitted. “That’s where all my friends are.”

Performing seemed to come naturally to Stout.

“I’ve always been interested in music,” said he. “My mom sings and I sang in church and I used to do talent shows. In third grade I picked up the drums and I played drums all through high school. As a kid, you always grow up pretending you’re going to be a rock star in some way shape or form.”

Stout picked up the guitar while attending boarding school and while in college, he honed his singing and playing skills even further. He was getting good but he was hesitant to commit to becoming a professional musician.

“It’s something that nags in the back of your head saying ‘This is what you should do. This is what you should do.’ Eventually I just gave into it because you can’t really complain if you’ve never given it a fair shot. I was playing football at that time and then I was a bodybuilder and then eventually I was just like, ‘I don’t really want to do any of that anymore. I just want to play music.’”

And so he did … but it wasn’t like people were lining up to book gigs for the Jared Stout Band in those days. So, at age 23, Jared Stout took his act to the streets.

“I was actually jobless and I lived in downtown Blacksburg and I had super cheap $185 a month rent,” Stout recounted. “So I would go down on the streets every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday and play like the 10 songs that I knew on rotation and people would just give me money. It was pretty nifty. So in the matter of, you know, a week I would pay for my bills. I lived off that for as long as I could before it got too cold and I had to get a job.”

This was about the same time that Jared was entering bodybuilder competitions.

“I used to take a bunch of ones to the bank teller and they asked me what I was what I did and I always told them I was a male entertainer, which wasn’t a lie, but it left them wondering,” said Stout.

Stout does look a little bigger in the biceps than the average rock and roll musician and at 180 pounds, he is still 35 pounds lighter than when he was involved in competitive body building.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Stout chortled. “You wax your whole body and flex in a Speedo with your spray tan. I was a bigger guy back then. I tore my hamstring and I ended up trying to come back from that and it was just wasn’t the same.”

While Stout admires those who dedicate themselves to competitive bodybuilding, he doesn’t miss the lifestyle.

“Getting down to where you’re that lean and visibly muscular is tough … it’s really, really tough,” said Stout. “Your diet is just no fun but you have to be strict because one little fluctuation and you can mess up the whole thing. You have your fats and your carbs and your proteins that you have to split throughout the day. Your carbs continue to go down, so you’re really low carb before a show. It’s a process down and a process back out but I got tired of that. There’s more to life and I’d rather play music and exercise to stay healthy.”

When Stout finally got the opportunity to play a paid gig, he didn’t squander the opportunity and the Jared Stout Band was born.

“We used to do some Blacksburg stuff at Tot’s and Big Al’s, where we would play for three hours and 20 minutes nonstop,” said Stout. “My longest is four hours and 20 minutes without a break. That was pretty tough and I was in better shape then.”

These days, the five member Jared Stout Band normally plays a three hour set with a 30 minute intermission and his musical selection depends at least in part on the crowd.

“When people aren’t buying tickets, you have to play what you can of your own stuff,” said Stout. “That’s good advertisement and covers to keep people entertained. Like here at the Rock House, you’re outdoors and people want to move around. They don’t want to hear any sappy stuff.”

The Jared Stout Band’s eponymous album contains eight original compositions with “White Light” released as their first single. Stout released another single entitled “Home” on his own and the accompanying video can be seen on YouTube.

“It’s like any business plan,” said Stout of his musical enterprise. “Like if you said, ‘I’m going to sell these sunglasses.’ Okay, well there’s a lot of sunglasses on the market. Why are your sunglasses cool? What’s the whole point of it? Who’s going to tell you that your sunglasses are cool? It’s the same difference. You’re just trying to sell music instead of selling sunglasses.”

“You’re trying to sell the experience so when you come see our show, so that you can relax and enjoy yourself from start to finish.”

Playing music for a living does have its perks.

“You never go to work and not like it,” stated Stout. “I mean you really have to bomb a show to go to work and be like ‘God today sucked.’ We have had shows where we felt like we went to work but they’re few and far between.”

Stout’s band is doing better than ever but he still supplements his income by working as a substitute teacher.

“I’ll take odd jobs if people can offer me something Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday,” said Stout. “But for the most part I am trying to make this my general living and it’s coming close to supporting me. It’s just like owning a small business, you know. You want to pour your heart and soul into it, but you have to take time away from it. Traditionally you think, well I play music and I go out and that’s what I do. I’m the happiest person in the world … but it’s still a job. I still go to work. I still set everything up and tear it down So you do have to learn to take care of yourself.”

Stout lives with two of his bandmates in Christiansburg because, “It’s cheap man! The three of us live together in a townhouse to save money. The more money saved, the more money goes back into the business. For me it’s great because I want to build this. I want this to succeed and it takes focus and being three band members in one place is great. The fourth member is you know five minutes down the road and then the harmonica player he lives in Salem. We’re all tight knit.”

The music and funky paraphernalia of the Jared Stout Band can be found at their website or at one of their shows.

“I wouldn’t be anywhere near successful, if it wasn’t for this area,” Stout declared. “If it wasn’t for the support that I’ve received all through here with the Rock House, the Farmhouse in Christiansburg, the Milk Parlor in Blacksburg … all these different places. They have supported me and what I do so much, that it has allowed me to rise above and do better.”

The following day, Stout was due to take off for a gig at Emerald Island, North Carolina. Then it’s on to Charlotte, Crossville, Tennessee, Summerville, South Carolina, then back to Raleigh for a show. He should be back this Sunday evening just before midnight.

“It’s a nice little haul,” said Stout of his upcoming tour. “If you want to play music as a career, it’s a full time deal and it’s a lot of work. You cannot do a normal life with the music life.”

Singing music, writing music, making videos … Jared Stout is a rock star.

“We’re not anywhere near the rock star lifestyle yet but we take that in stride because it’s possible that if we have steady growth and do well, in three years we could be living the rock star lifestyle.”

Rock on, Jared Stout. Rock on.



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