A decade ago, Tony Jackson was a senior vice president for a bank in Richmond, Va., and now he’s touring in support of his self-titled 2017 debut country music album, “Tony Jackson.”
Jackson, 41, will hit the stage at 7 p.m. Saturday in the historic Watseka Theatre, singing country standards such as George Jones’ “The Grand Tour” and Conway Twitty’s “It’s Only Make Believe” and his own “Drink By Drink,” “Old Porch Swing” and “She’s Taking Me Home” from his debut album.
Jackson, who currently is a headliner at the Old Dominion Barn Dance in Richmond, didn’t grow up a country music fan, according to his bio on his website, tonyjackson.com.
He is the son of a career Navy dad, and he moved from base to base, which included living in Spain for three years.
“I sang ‘White Christmas’ in the Christmas play in the sixth grade,” writes Jackson in his bio. “Everybody seemed to love it, but I was a wreck. My mother forced me to sing in the church choir, but I was kind of buried in the voices along with everybody else.”
He enlisted in the U.S. Marines after graduating high school, and it’s there the self-proclaimed “electronics geek” immersed himself in the computer science program he qualified for with the Marine Corps in Quantico, Va. That led him on his first career path.
While in the Marines, though, Jackson got interested in country music.
“My mother listened only to gospel,” he says in his bio. “My dad was into jazz, hip hop, R&B, new jack swing — stuff like that, but Armed Forces Radio played everything. When I was living in Spain — when I was 10 to 13 — Randy Travis came over there on a USO tour.
“Some friends and I were out there early when they were setting up the stage, and we actually got to talk to him before we realized he was the guy who’d be performing later. He was really cool to us.
“In the Marine Corps, when my friends and I played music for each other, we were all homesick. So when you’d listen to these country songs that talked about family and home and heartbreak, it would really grab you.”
Jackson’s musical career began simply 11 years ago when a friend whose band had lost its lead singer asked Jackson to try out for the spot.
“I did,” he says in his bio, “and I was hooked after that.”
Jackson and his friends went into a Richmond studio and recorded Jones’ “The Grand Tour” soon after the the country legend died in 2013. They also made a video that eventually wound up on YouTube.
This rest is history.
Eventually, Jackson landed a recording deal in Nashville, Tenn., through a connection with singer Donna Dean Stevens and DDS Entertainment/Sony-RED.
Tickets for Saturday’s show at the Watseka Theatre, 218 E. Walnut St. in downtown Watseka, are $50 and can be purchased online at watsekatheatre.com. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m., and dinner will be available for an additional purchase.