Before Jason Ringenberg moved to Nashville, he grew up in Bureau County, Illinois, on a family farm about an hour east of the Quad Cities.
Ringenberg moved to Music City in the early ‘80s and formed Jason & the Scorchers, a band that combined rock and country before terms like Americana and alt-country were used to market music.
And now, 30 years later, Ringenberg has come full circle as Farmer Jason, his children’s-music alter-ego.
On Sunday, he puts both of his musical sides on display with a Farmer Jason matinee performance followed by a solo Jason Ringenberg show in the evening.
He talked about the differences between the two during a phone call from his home on a farm outside Nashville.
Question: Kids’ music doesn’t seem like a natural fit for you, given how wild and rocking Jason & the Scorchers were. Why did you think it would work?
Answer: It was just something for my kids. I had young kids when I started this 12 years ago. When it started to work, I took notice and put more of myself into it. It hasn’t really seemed that strange to me. I hit the stage with the same sort of level of energy either way.
Q: Farmer Jason rocks out?
A: As much as you can with acoustic guitar. When you get a room full of kids, it can be a high-energy experience.
Q: Is there an educational aspect to Farmer Jason’s music?
A: There’s a mission purpose, to inspire kids to learn about farming, to appreciate farming and where their food comes from and to appreciate their own natural world.
Q: What’s a common misconception about farming?
A: Living in the country or farming is a relaxing existence. It is not. It’s a lot of hard work to keep a place like that up and to keep things growing. There’s really nothing peaceful about it.
Q: Is Farmer Jason’s fan base Scorchers fans who bring their kids, or are the people bringing their kids unaware of your musical past?
A: In the early days, it was almost all Jason & the Scorchers fans bringing kids or grandkids. Now, though, it’s changed quite substantially. A lot of folks don’t know what Jason Ringenberg or Jason & the Scorchers is.
Q: Which show takes more out of you?
A: The kids show is shorter, but the concentration level is more intense. You can never just relax and enjoy the musical experience, because the kids need your focus every second, or they’ll just wander off. The Jason Ringenberg show takes more emotion. You’re dealing with a whole different kind of song.
Q: Would you recommend someone coming to both shows?
A: It’s great fun for any adult to see a Farmer Jason show, because it’s just so crazy. You get a bunch of kids in a room and anything can happen.
Q: Do you take pride in helping to set a foundation for what alt-country has become?
A: I certainly wouldn’t claim any responsibility, but I am honored when folks will say, “I really like what you did,” like people that I might be a fan of, for example, Jason Isbell. I ran into him in Holland once, and he said, “Yeah, man. I’m a real fan.” That really meant something to me, because I like his music. Things like that, when they happen, it does affect me. I’m proud of that.
IF YOU GO
What: Farmer Jason (2 p.m.); Jason Ringenberg (7 p.m.)
When: Sunday, Feb. 26
Where: The Southgate House Revival, 111 E. Sixth St., Newport; 859-431-2201
Tickets: $7-$9 (Farmer Jason); $8-$10 (Jason Ringenberg)