Farmer Jason Scorches Schools

In the span of more than 25 years, Jason Ringenberg has seen his fans trade in their shot glasses for sippy cups. The former frontman of cowpunk outfit Jason & the Scorchers is now playing music and talking about the environment to the grade school set as Farmer Jason.

"It’s something that does tend to surprise folks, that’s for sure," Ringenberg told Pollstar. "I have two little girls and about four years ago, when they were 1 and 3, we were listening to a lot of kids music.

"Kids like to listen to the same thing over and over again, so I thought maybe it should be me," he said, laughing. "So I did this little record for fun, and it just grew from there. It’s been very organic and sort of taken on a life of its own."

Ringenberg now finds himself doing gigs at hours he once might have just been going to sleep. School shows can begin as early as 7:30 a.m., he said.

But he’s also experimenting with taking the Farmer Jason show to regular rock venues during the day, and doing a singer/songwriter performance for the grownups at night.

"I do libraries, schools and regular performing arts venues with hard tickets. But we also do shows in rock rooms, which is quite fun," Ringenberg said. "Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t; but it can be quite interesting to have parents bringing their kids to places where they hang out at night."

He recently played two such gigs at the Iota Club in Arlington, Va.

"You see hard-bitten sound guys and door bouncers who are used to throwing people out at 2 in the morning, and now they’re hanging out with 4-year-olds and there are smiles all around. It’s a good vibe," Ringenberg said.

"My primary goal is to entertain the kids, but I do try to educate them some about the environment, nature and farming. I talk about taking care of animals and taking care of the Earth," he said of his role as Farmer Jason.

And he also finds himself playing for three generations of fans.

"Some of my fans from the Scorchers days – I hate to say this – are grandparents now, and they’re bringing the grandkids to see me. Sometimes they don’t know what to make of it but it’s all fun."

It’s also a lot less stressful to maintain than that rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle.

"It’s all under one roof now and it does make life a little more enjoyable and certainly makes touring more bearable," Ringenberg said of Farmer Jason.

He’s released two albums as Farmer Jason: Rockin’ in the Forest and A Day at the Farm with Farmer Jason with guest performers including bluegrass virtuoso Fats Kaplin and singer/songwriter Todd Snider. And true to his roots, song titles include "Punk Rock Skunk" and "A Guitar Pickin’ Chicken."

It’s a far cry from Scorchers titles like "Broken Whiskey Glass" and "200 Proof Lovin’ " but Farmer Jason has been good to Ringenberg.

"Sometimes it’s a challenge because we do have to make sure it’s financially viable," Ringenberg said.