Years before Jason Nix hit the highway, playing nightly shows that mixed the modern twang of country music with the southern spirit of blue-collar rock & roll, he grew up working on cars with his father. Music and automobiles ran in the family. One minute, a young Jason would find himself accompanying his dad to band practice, where the older Nix would play bluegrass songs. The next minute, the two Nix men would have their heads buried in an engine, diagnosing some mechanical issue while a nearby radio blasted country songs.
The experience left a permanent mark on Nix, who bought a 1971 Chevelle not long after college and began restoring it. As his own music career took off — not only as an acclaimed frontman, but also as a songwriter and sought-after instrumentalist — so did the Chevelle's complete overhaul.
"It's my time machine," he says of the vehicle. "There's no radio and no AC, and it's my gauge whenever I'm writing songs. If my car had a radio, what would I want to hear when I'm driving it? That's the feeling I want to chase. The freedom that car makes me feel is the sound I want to make."
With Money On You, Nix lets the songs themselves — hook-heavy originals about life, love, and all points in between — take the wheel. "Then You Love a Woman" is an anthemic salute to the rush of a new relationship, while the title track is a swaggering combination of rhythm, roots, and rock, influenced by the old-school southern rockers whose music Nix discovered as a teenager in Mississippi. Rooted in organic performances and sharp songwriting, Money On You isn't just a record about where Nix is going; it's about where he's been, too.
Born in Nashville, Nix moved to Mississippi as a 5 year old. His upbringing was a musical one, filled with the down-home sounds of bluegrass and country. George Strait, Vince Gill, Alison Krauss, Nickel Creek, and Travis Tritt were childhood favorites, and as Nix grew older, he added rock-influenced artists like the Allman Brothers, the Eagles, and Charlie Daniels Band to the mix. That broad range of influences helped shape Nix's own music, which he began playing as a member of a regionally-touring band in high school. Unable to shake his lifelong connection to Nashville, he moved back to Tennessee one day after his graduation.
In a city filled with starry-eyed artists looking for their big break, Nix rolled up his sleeves and got to work, earning his stripes not only as a big-voiced frontman, but also as a skilled guitarist. He toured with chart-topping artists like Canaan Smith and Chase Rice, playing guitar for both frontmen as their careers exploded. He wrote songs, too, earning a publishing deal and landing cuts with artists like Eli Young Band, Lainey Wilson, and the Shires. Finally, he played regular shows on Lower Broadway, remaining onstage until 2:30 a.m, sharpening his stage presence to a fine point… and waking up several hours later to go work a retail job at a clothing store.
"We'd wrap up at 2:30, and I'd drive my minivan over to the shop and sleep until it was time to open the doors," he remembers. "I'd do that for three or four nights a week, for two years straight. You do what you have to do to make the dream a reality. I was doing anything I could do to keep my head above water."
Money On You is the culmination of Jason Nix's due-paying past, strengthened by his years as a hard-touring road warrior and in-demand songwriter. There's a strong emphasis on the camaraderie of Nix's band — an importance placed upon the honest, human sound of multiple musicians playing together, relying on organic performances (rather than studio trickery) to pack a punch — and Nix's writing has never been stronger, with lighthearted songs like "Made for Me" adding perspective to weightier, thought-provoking moments like "Preacher in a Bar." Money On You is the latest chapter in Nix's unfolding story, with songs that are every bit as striking as the landscapes that fly by the window of his 1971 Chevelle.
After all, you can take the man out of the car… but you can't take the car out of the man.
"Whenever I sit down to write a song, I'll say, 'Let's write a song you can drive to,'" Jason Nix explains. "I hope these songs make people want to roll their windows down and hit the road."