Signing Story: Jonny Fritz


Date Signed: Jan. 27, 2013
Label: ATO Records
Type of Music: Alt. Country/Americana
Management: Christine Stauder/Red Light Management, 646-292-7400
Booking: Andrew Colvin, [email protected]
Legal: Jeff Colvin / Marcus & Colvin, 615-742-2565
Publicity: Angie Carlson / [email protected]
Web: http://jonnyfritz.com
A&R: Jon Salter & Kirby Lee / ATO Records

Jonny Fritz is a master storyteller who can deftly spin a tale along the lines of his songwriting heroes like Tom T. Hall, Michael Hurley, Jerry Reed, Jerry Jeff Walker and Roger Miller. He crafts songs that have observational humor but are also loaded with hefty amounts of truth, irony, poignancy and personal experience. It is a skill he’s developed after nearly a decade on the road—traveling all around the world, playing every kind of dive along the way and selling two independently released recordings to supplement his income and spread his musical gospel.

“[The label] wanted to wait until they had the time to do it right.”

The artist’s latest full-length release, Dad Country, is out on ATO and is the first record using his real name. The former Jonny “Corndawg” (a nickname from his Virginian youth) had been working with his manager shopping the disc to labels. “I had my heart set on ATO,” says Fritz. “But I didn’t care how much money or political clout they had. ATO made it clear to me that they cared about the music but wanted to wait until they had the time to do it right.” When the time finally came and the contract was to be signed, he did it in his own inimitable way––he signed it in gravy at Arnold’s Country Kitchen in Nashville, TN. The owner even commemorated the event by taking a photo of it and, much to the delight of Fritz, hung it on the wall next to a photo of Johnny Cash.

But the road to getting there was not without some bumps. Fritz was co-producing the album with frequent collaborator Taylor Goldsmith of the band Dawes. They had a studio locked down in Los Angeles, CA, and were prepared to record. At the last minute the original producer left them in the lurch. As luck would have it, Dawes were doing a show in Hollywood that week. Jackson Browne was friends with the guys in the band and had briefly met Fritz before as well. After seeing the show and learning of their plight, Browne offered up his recording facility in L.A.

“I put out the last record myself and it was a lotta work,” laments Fritz. “Now ATO will handle all that side of it and I can just play the shows.”

By Eric A. Harabadian