The Willies are a semi-super group comprised of members from from almost every conceivable nook and cranny of the American underground. Vocalist and bassist Dave Willie provides the requisite punk rock credentials as a member of hardcore legends C.P.S. Singer Jen Jones arrives fresh from her stint in the retro-savvy swingabilly band The Camaros. And the band is further bolstered by journeyman multi-instrumentalist Carco Clave, who's backed such notables as Asleep At The Wheel, Chuck Meade, and Little Jimmy Dickens.
On paper, the lineup looks formidable--and eclectic (to say the least). On wax (or, in this case, plastic) it proves to be an unexpectedly cohesive beast of a band. Nothing The Willies are doing is new--far from it. There's skiffle jazz, swing, blues, and even a hint of ska, woven into their sonic tapestry, that would give the impression they're a Squirrel Nut Zippers-type of vintage clothing obsessed novelty band. But there's something The Willies posses that's either too sincere or fun to throw on the cultural trash heap of recycled Americana. Part of that something is top-notch talent, which--while not exactly matching up to Cab Calloway's orchestra--sure doesn't merely fill a category for urban cafe-dwellers who don't know any better.
They kick off Jazz Age Thump with more of a palpitation on the wistful "Green Eyed Devil," before segueing into the stomping "Ballbusting Valentine," a city street serenade sprinkled with punk malevolence. The band finally blasts off on the third track, "Let's Get Drunk and Start a Fire," a swinging slab of jump jazz guaranteed to get just about any crowd moving. Throughout the entire disc The WIllies careen between sultry and smart-assed, all the while exhibiting the strong chops of trumpeter Ben Clark and percussionist Devin Pena.
As the cool kid hangouts in their home base of Nashville are gravitating away from country in favor of rock in its myriad forms, it's not a stretch to assume that The Willies might be able to get hipsters to switch from moonshine to bathtub gin, and honky tonk attitude to a speakeasy mentality. The writing on Jazz Age Thump is surprisingly top-notch for the genre, and the band's wicked enthusiasm is infectious. If you're looking for a great summer disc--and can't stand anymore Alan Jackson or Zac Brown Band--get into The Willies and Jazz Age Thump. -Cheri Lynn, Wild American Radio
“Although it seems like the outside world is just now discovering that Nashville is a rock town, old-timers like us have had the pleasure of groovin’ to the Music City’s underground and indie rock scene for many years. Plus we had the benefit of seeing how these local vets have continued to reinvent themselves and explore new musical avenues. The Willies feature Nashville first-generation punk-scene vet Dave Willie (CPS, Jet Black Factory, 9 Parts Devil) and his wife Jen Jones (The Camaros) dealing out literate, engaging songs with influences that include jazz vocals, country, rockabilly and more.”
“Today I was invited to hear some music...in many cases I'm left wanting. Not today. ..... wonderful music of The Willies. Jen Jones and Dave Willie have conjured up a really nice sound with deep roots traveling in two directions...finding themselves growing in the traditional fertile soil of the American South on one side, while pushing through the concrete diversity of a bustling American city on the other. Personally, I am a total pushover for all things vintage, and this group has married the vintage with the current convincingly...and the best part is that they have done so in a non-formulaic way. Take two songs, "Too Lazy to Love" and "South Coast Go Go" for instance. Essentially this could be two different groups. Not just because the songs are in different styles, but because those styles in both cases sound authentic. This is not easy to do, and I hear a lot of people try. Eclectiblogs is all about adopting the eclectic. As for The Willies, mission accomplished. ”
“The Willies, making a Roots debut, opened up their eclectic set with double basses, literally. The blended sound of a plucked acoustic against a bowed acoustic was rich under the stylin’ voice of Jen Jones, as she opened the set with the smoky and jazzy “After The Fight.” Her partner Dave Willie, one of the bassists, traded vocal duties with her through a four-song set, as the Nashville-based band showed range and charm. They were followed by the back porch electro-grass of the Flea Market Hustlers.”
“It’s almost become a cliche that former punk rockers end up becoming Americana artists. But for many Southern punkers — and particularly ones from the Nashville area — “discovering” their country roots is anything but an affectation.And that’s certainly true for the husband-wife duo The Willies.On their debut album, Nashville first-generation punk scene vet Dave Willie and Jen Jones(The Camaros) deliver literate, engaging songs topping a musical stew of influences that include jazz vocals, country, rockabilly and more.... what The Willies are serving goes far beyond simple musical cross-breeding. What’s really at work here is more on the order of musical gene-splicing — carefully and consciously producing a beast that is greater than the sum of its parts and yet works together as a whole rather than as a mash-up of styles.... The end result is music with a greater complexity that you notice on first listen, and one that you keep returning to explore the next layer.”