The rocker next door

Recent transplant Jeff Gordon unpacks his homegrown rock in Reno

Jeff Gordon recently had a song featured on the teen TV show <i>Dawson’s Creek</i>.

Jeff Gordon recently had a song featured on the teen TV show Dawson’s Creek.

Photo By Dan Guajardo

Jeff Gordon will perform Feb. 9 at Diamond Peak Ski Resort,Feb. 14 at Montreaux Golf and Country Club and Feb. 15 at The Mecca in Sparks.

Let’s face it: America loves the boy next door,

especially when he comes equipped with a guitar strapped across his back. We are intoxicated by his youth; we revel in his freedom and his defiance of authority. He’s a symbol of Americana (insert visual of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” here).

Jeff Gordon is a self-described boy next door. The San Fernando Valley native revels in his middle class roots. He doesn’t waste time entertaining alter egos. He celebrates the relative lucidity of life. One thing we mustn’t do, however, is equate lucid with boring. Gordon knows how to read his audiences, and his versatility as a performer allows him to cater to what they want to hear.

“I try to be a good storyteller about [other] people,” Gordon says.

And his musical influences?

“I could give you a whole list of people,” Gordon says. “The Beatles, The Who, Springsteen, Petty—but the people who introduced me to them are my parents. They are my two biggest influences.

“I think I sound like the people I have always been compared to—U2, Springsteen, Petty. But all these people come up because they were influences on me. I always stay true to my songwriting … and try to tell my story the way I would tell it.”

Gordon, who began playing guitar at the age of 10, always had dreams of making it big.

“Ever since I picked up the instrument and I started playing it, I wanted to be the next Jackson Browne—I wanted to be the guy,” Gordon says.

In 1994, Gordon and his band, The Ridge, were signed to Discovery Records, a subsidiary of Warner Bros.

“We were making a big noise out there [in Los Angeles], playing places like The Whiskey and The Roxy. … We opened for bands like Hootie and The Blowfish, The Goo-Goo Dolls, The Violent Femmes.”

In 1995, Discovery Records went under, and The Ridge was dropped—but Gordon remained firmly planted in the pop music scene.

“I focused on really molding my craft, and then put out another [solo] album called Tinkers to Evers to Chance,” he says.

Gordon, who is now just a boy with his guitar, will soon put the finishing touches on his third solo album.

“I have been doing this solo acoustic gig for 15-plus years,” Gordon says. “I’ve played all over the place, and a lot of people want to hear the cover songs, but the thing that gives me the most satisfaction is playing my own stuff and reaching people.”

Not all musicians have a grip on the business end of the deal, but it certainly sounds as if Gordon has this end working nicely in his favor.

“A musical accomplishment that I think is pretty cool is that [two weeks ago] I had a song on [TV show] Dawson’s Creek. There was a big scene and music playing in the background—that was my song!"