RJ Comer

Originally from Chicago, RJ started out singing in church with his mom and around the campfire with his dad & grandpa, but ended up in a lot of bad places at wrong times. RJ gave up on his dream to be a musician and then spiraled into an abyss of violence, addiction, and poverty. He eventually straightened himself out, got a regular job, and decades later a band RJ started for kicks got signed. Now he is a full-time musician again, living in rural Tennessee with his wife and their dog, a storyteller with the backwaters of Americana and Blues running through his veins, writing songs that reflect the witty, gritty, tender and tough guy he is.

RJ has toured as a solo artist throughout the U.S. and Canada, including official appearances at SXSW, Canadian Music Week, the Baton Rouge Third Street Songwriters Festival, and the Key Largo Original Music Festival. Southern Louisiana is his second musical home, having played and recorded in New Orleans, Lafayette, and Baton Rouge. His powerful voice, captivating and emotional live performances, and infectious songs have garnered fans from Bourbon Street to farm towns, in coffee houses and concert halls. After a show in Albuquerque, representatives from the New Mexico Americana Music Society described RJ as “refreshingly manly.”

As a recording artist, RJ’s garnered critical acclaim and radio success. His 2016 release “Nightly Suicide” EP got spins throughout the country’s Americana stations, and Tampa’s WMNF 88.5 named it one of the best albums of 2016. In 2015 RJ released a two-sided single “New Orleans Undercover,” which debuted at #2 on iTunes New Blues Releases Chart. “New Orleans Undercover” was recorded in New Orleans with New Orleans musicians featuring RJ’s close friend and 2012 National Banjo Hall of Fame inductee Lee Floyd. His debut solo EP “Hell Hole Swamp” (March 2015) included tracks produced in Lafayette, Louisiana by True Blood and Treme’ contributor C.C. Adcock and featuring the legendary Stanton Moore on drums and Artelius Mystic on sousaphone. RJ’s song “Smothered” from the “Hell Hole Swamp” EP is the title track and theme song to the feature film “Smothered” (written and directed by John Schneider).

RJ’s new release, One Last Kiss, is RJ’s first solo LP—a collection of songs that are both conversational and poetic, deftly straddling traditional and contemporary Americana and Blues. With a baritone voice that can be powerful, ragged, or soothing, RJ shows the emotional and experiential range of a man who once only knew how to fight or flee, but slowly learned to live and prosper, and eventually learned to love. One Last Kiss was produced by Shawn Byrne and features Parker Millsap’s fiddle player Daniel Foulks and Grammy-winning slide guitarist Randy Kohrs (Jim Lauderdale band).

At a live show or on a record, performing an original song or a cover, RJ insists on being truthful with his audience. He doesn’t shrink away from his lonely and painful experiences, but also shares the redemption, joy, and love in his life. He takes his audience into some dark places, but he always emerges into the light to hit the open road, have a laugh and share a story.

Releases

One Last Kiss

June, 2018

RJ’s first solo LP is a leap forward in the musical and emotional journey of his previous two solo EPs. Having left Los Angeles and moved to the Tennessee woods with his wife of 21 years, RJ seems to have relaxed a bit, showing a lighter and brighter side of himself on this new release. Though his darker emotions of loss, regret, and longing for redemption are not completely in abeyance, the longer LP format allows RJ to explore a greater range of emotions and musical textures than ever before. One Last Kiss was recorded in Nashville with multi-instrumentalist producer Shawn Byrne and features Grammy-winner Randy Kohrs (Jim Lauderdale and Dierks Bentley) on slide guitar and Daniel Foulks (Parker Milsap band) on Fiddle.

Nightly Suicide

March 25, 2016

“Nightly Suicide” is decidedly Americana Rock, yet is RJ’s most intimate and personal collection of songs dealing with addiction, failed relationships, conscience, redemption, and the open road. Multi-instrumentalist and producer Jef Scott (The Men) produced “Nightly Suicide” and collaborated closely with RJ to craft an Americana Rock sound that is both unflinching and introspective.

Hell Hole Swamp

Apr 07, 2015

The five original swamp songs on Hell Hole Swamp capture RJ’s love for swamp stories & legends — the shadow, the sin, the redemption, and the humor. Although a fusion of Louisiana and Carolina swamp influences, Hell Hole Swamp is contemporary Americana and is unlimited by boundaries. RJ plays plectrum banjo on every track and is accompanied by a wide variety of instruments, including acoustic and electric guitar, organ, fiddle, and horns on one track (“I Wasn’t Born an Angel”).

True Blood and Treme contributor C.C. Adcock produced two tracks “Smothered” and “I Wasn’t Born an Angel” in Lafayette, Louisiana. RJ’s long-time collaborator Rob Hill produced three other three tracks. Notable Louisiana artists participated in some of the tracks. The incomparable New Orleans drummer and percussionist Stanton Moore appears on these tracks along with Artelius Mystic (sousaphone) and Dave Rosser (organ). Like any southern American Swamp, Hell Hole Swamp can be charming and fun, but just as quickly can turn dark… “Beauty and danger occupy the same space in the shadowed grace of this foresaken place, called Hell Hole Swamp.”

New Orleans Undercover

Nov 12, 2015

New Orleans Undercover is the culmination of RJ’s Crescent City collaborations with the legendary Lee Floyd (2012 Inductee into the National Banjo Hall of Fame). From Bourbon Street to the Treme, RJ’s rich voice and Lee’s effortlessly masterful banjo solos delighted locals and tourists alike. So Lee brought his band of New Orleans musicians into the studio and they recorded two of their favorite songs—New Orleans style.