Lucky 13 with John Schneider (Bo Duke, from The Dukes of Hazzard)

John Schneider has graced television screens, made an impact in the film community, and delighted the country music world for decades by eloquently delivering stories in a way no one has before. He landed his television debut in 1978 as Bo Duke on The Dukes of Hazzard and has starred in TV movies like Dream House, Happy Endings, played opposite Kirk Douglas on the big screen in Eddie Macon’s Run, starred as Jonathan Kent on Smallville, and is now playing the role of Judge Jim Cryer in the smash Tyler Perry hit, The Haves and the Have Nots.

In 2017, Schneider is gearing up for his triumphant return to the country music scene with Ruffled Skirts, a near and dear album to him that pays homage to Louisiana royalty, including some of the individuals from LeRoux (‘New Orleans Lady’), Jo-El Sonnier, Doug Kershaw, David Hyde who played bass on the album and Randy Carpenter who played drums on the album and is dedicated to the people who were affected by the flood. In 2016, the community of Southern Louisiana was hit twice by major flooding in a matter of six months. The floods ravaged the John Schneider Studios which sat in nearly 4 ft of water. With tragedy, there comes hope and beauty and with that came Ruffled Skirts (Pre-Order Here)

In support of his album, John will be performing this Saturday, January 28th at Opry at the Ryman along with Charles Esten, Lindsay Ell, Shenandoah, Ashley Campbell, Ray Scott, The Whites, Connie Smith, and more. For tickets visit: http://www.opry.com/calendar/opry-ryman-sat-28-jan

John was gracious enough to participate in our Lucky 13 Feature to give us more insight on him as an artist as well as the projects that he has been working on…

Tell us more about Ruffled Skirts and the significance behind the album? 
Ruffled skirts crawled out of the devastation of the flood through the cypress knees of the swamp at the studio and demanded to be heard.
Stemming from such a horrific event like the Louisiana floods, how has this album healed you and the community through the process? 
 
Putting the devastation and the aftermath to music has been very healing not only to myself but to the community. There is strength in knowing other people experience the same tragic events that you did.
 
Coming back to the country music world after an extended time away, how does it feel to make an album on your terms? 
 
It feels fantastic to make an album on my terms. The manner in which music is done is so different now than it was back in 1987 and during my MCA years. I am grateful however to have been trained by one of the best. Jimmy Bowen was in the business to help artists make their music not his. That is, of course, the only thing he and I ever agreed on!
You coin your family as major influences to your music career, can you tell us a little bit more about what it was like growing up surrounded by music? 
 
Music was always a means of expression in my household. From my uncle listening to the latest tunes on a record player in the basement to my dad playing his guitar, I always saw that great music at the end of a rough day could make everything better.
 
We are ecstatic about the new album and absolutely love the diversity of each song. Can you tell us a bit more about the various artists that contributed? 
 
The artists that contributed to this album came from Mississippi, California, Kentucky and Louisiana. It was such an honor to work with these folks who are all about the music and not so much about a strict form of production. We did it the way I used to do it, in the old days and it was very refreshing to all concerned. On top of that add Jo-El Sonyea and Doug Kershaw and you’ve got the greatest album of the year!
 
How did you connect with each artist and what was that experience like? 
 
Connecting with the artist was very simple and organic. I think they recognize me as someone who is all about the lyric and the story. Many times we talked not so much about how the music should sound, but how the listener should feel. You can only have those conversations with true professionals.
 
What was the process like working with songwriters Scott Innis, Phil Redrow, and Clifton Brown?
 
Working with these writers was fantastic and we did it in the true sense of 2016. By that I mean, we did it all through texts and photos taken on our cell phones! Alicia and I would see an image, take a picture, describe it in our own words and then send it off to either Phil, Scott or Clifton. Within hours they would have something for us to listen to. It was great doing an album with the advantage of the most current technology.
 
Bring us back to the days in the studio, any significant stand out memories? 
 
The studio was the destroyed living room of John SCHNEIDER STUDIOS. The great thing about it was having all of those musicians on that swelling moving floor and no one seemed to mind. I was of course concerned that the drum kit might fall through the floor at any moment! I do have to say that the old wood in the house sounds exceptionally good on this record. Many people will go through all sorts of pains to muffle sound these days and we did none of that. We recorded it much like Elvis’s last recording at Graceland and Johnny Cash’s last recording at his home in Hendersonville and I think it sounds true. By that I mean it sounds unaffected by technology.
 
With an event such as the floods, how have you and your community put the pieces back together? 
 
You can’t really put the pieces back together, you just have to get used to looking at a different picture on the puzzle box. We have put the studio back together in many regards but we have also decided to let the sand stay where it landed and much of the change to landscape to stay changed. The home is now a private supper club! It’s hard to live in a place when you know the river could take it away from you on any given Wednesday.
 
As someone who is well established in the country music world, what advice would you give to someone just starting out? 
 
My advice to anyone starting out in any form of entertainment is to tell the truth. Don’t second-guess and try to tell someone else’s truth. You have been given a truth and a perspective. Express that through music, paint, visuals or whatever but always express your truth.
 
Tell us, what does it mean to play in such a historic venue like the Ryman and what are you looking forward to most on Saturday?
 
I’m very excited to play the Ryman again. Last time I was there was when Johnny Cash’s stamp came out. It’s such an honor to be standing on the boards where so many amazing artists have stood before. I am both honored and humbled by the opportunity.
 
We are all thrilled for your return, can we expect a tour celebrating Ruffled Skirts this year? 
We’re in the process of putting together a tour right now. That also, of course, has changed over the decades since last time I toured. We are talking with venues rather than booking agents. We are contacting friends directly rather than through any other medium. We are contacting radio stations directly as well, as I have many wonderful relationships that have remained over the decades since last I sang. Wish us luck!
Outside of music, you are an esteemed actor, what projects are you working on right now? 
 
We did two films last year that are at the tail end of post-production. Our first release, Like Son, came out this last Fall and is available on demand as well as on DVD. The next film from JSS comes out on Valentine’s Day! It is a very unusual love story entitled Anderson Bench. You can find that on my website and I highly recommend that you check it out. Warning however: Anderson Bench is not for the weak at heart or the squeamish!
Final words from John Schneider:
Without music, I would be … be silent
Music is … expression
My music makes me feel … like I am part of the conversation
I write the songs because … I couldn’t possibly not right songs
Support music because … it is a completely original, truthful and organic look into the soul of mankind.
For more information on John Schneider: 
Twitter: @John_Schneider | Instagram: @thejohnschneider