Five oclock in the morning isnt the typical time to expect a musician to be mastering his craft. But for soulful songster Jon Wikstrom, who opens for Oleta Adams this Saturday, July 21, at the Birchmere, thats precisely the early morning wake-up call that starts each working day, with rigorous guitar practice and sultry vocal crooning taking place well before the crack of dawn.
Wikstrom maintains this odd schedule in order to support his family, shedding his public persona after breakfast for a button-down desk job at a small Maryland brokerage house. Its a lifestyle you wouldnt expect from a national touring musician and former professional (though struggling) songwriter in Nashville who was under contract with one of the largest labels in the world, Sony Music, just seven years ago. Though as one discovers while talking to this former Arlington, Va. resident and Capitol Hill staffer, nothing about Wikstroms life has been ordinary.
My management was pretty lax when they brought up the fact that a song I wrote might be selected for Aaron Tippins greatest hits album [1994s Lookin Back at Myself], recalls Wikstrom while considering his past close brushes with success during a recent telephone interview.
They said, Yeah, that could earn you an extra $200,000. What? Id never had an extra $2,000 in my life at that point, never mind an extra $200,000. That was one of those nights when I couldnt get to sleep, nervous of the final decision. But in the end, Aaron didnt choose the song. It was disappointing, but I guess it just wasnt meant to be.
Though he got the opportunity to work with some of the industrys biggest artists, sustainable work never found its way to the Wikstroms Tennessean home.
For two years, I was basically a house-husband, explains the Beckley, W.V., native whose debut CD Reckless Devotion can best be described as James Taylor stumbling into a 1970s Las Vegas lounge act, with a twist of Brazilian spice. My wife Katherine would go off to work on computers and I would stay home and take care of our son, Jackson. I loved it in Nashville and writing songs, but I just never really fit in there. With our second child on the way [the now 6-year-old Olivia], the opportunity to move back to this region came up, and it just made sense to do it, even if it slowed my music career a bit.
Yet, in lifes ironic way, past failures may be leading to Jon Wikstroms current success. Ten of the jazzy, romantic numbers that were passed over by other artists make up Reckless, a highly-praised release that has led to a new booking agent, dream gigs like working the Birchmere and being named earlier this year as an Artist to Watch by the countrys largest radio broadcast company, Clear Channel.
Tickets are available at all Ticketmaster outlets or The Birchmere. Call 703-549-7500 or visit www.Birchmere.com.