By Kay West
Jon Wolfe Serendipitous Change of Plans
Had things gone according to Plan A, Jon Wolfe would be sitting pretty in a corner office of a skyscraper, looking down at the city of Houston, sharply dressed in a custom-made suit, boots propped up on his desk, wheeling and dealing with other masters of the petroleum industry.
Instead, Wolfe’s view is decidedly more down to earth---looking through the windshield of his band van, or out at a honky-tonk filled with long-neck drinkin’, cowboy hat wearin’, singin’ along country music fans. And he couldn’t be happier.
“I went from suit and tie to boots and hats—though I was always one of the few guys on the trading floor who wore cowboy boots,” says Wolfe with a laugh.
Raised in Miami, Oklahoma in an Assembly of God home which forbid secular rock music, Wolfe was probably the only devotee of smooth male vocal stylists like Frank Sinatra and Harry Connick, Jr. in his junior high class. When the parental music control loosened up a bit in high school he gravitated towards artists that had big followings in Oklahoma----George Strait and Garth Brooks. And he began to wonder how things would look from their side of the stage.
After completing college, and with a finance degree in hand, he moved to Chicago, where he spent two years in the oil trading department for British Petroleum before they transferred him to Houston, a move that changed his life.
“When I got to Houston, I discovered Texas music, guys like Pat Green, guys who were doing their own thing, what they wanted to do. It really inspired me.”
He gave his notice to BP and kicked off Plan B at a classic Houston bar/roadhouse, playing open mic nights there and other beer joints in the area. Progressing from cover songs to writing his own material, he recorded an album for $1000 in a home studio, scratching out a living with odd jobs.
As his confidence and contacts grew, he put together a band, found a manager, signed with SESAC, put together a demo tape to pitch and did a showcase in Nashville. When all of that resulted in a deal with Midas Records, he packed his bags and made his first move to Music City. After recording almost an entire album—including what was to be his debut single, “She Won’t Be Lonely Long”---the project hit a bump in the road, which turned out to be a dead end when the label shut down leaving him at Square One.
After regrouping he was soon traveling back and forth from Nashville to Texas, where he continued touring and building a fan base. “I never quit, I am a constant hard driver.” Even so, when the next two potential record deals fizzled, it sometimes seemed it was one boot forward and a two-step back.
He used his frustration to drive on even harder, putting together a new team of management and investors, and writing more material for an album he would do himself. He released It All Happened in a Honky Tonk in late 2010 which produced four hits on Texas charts.
In January 2013 Warner Music Nashville released the Deluxe Edition of It All Happened in a Honky Tonk with three additional songs. Of the 15 on the new collection, Wolfe has 8 co-writes.
“My old boss asked me recently if I have ever regretted leaving behind what I had. I told him it’s not been an easy path, but I had to embrace it. It would have been worse if I never tried.”