Jason Ringenberg has undergone three distinct re-inventions during his nearly 40-year music career.
Which is another way of saying Ringenberg really enjoys performing. He’s toured the world three times in the 21st century, performing solo. One weekend, he’ll be in Santa Barbara, Calif. A week later, he might be in Dublin.
“You’ll find that in every person who’s been at this for several decades, they just love doing it,” Ringenberg said. “And I’m one of those persons. I love to perform.”
Ringenberg will be Americana Showcase’s featured performer, along with Hayward Williams, Brandon Sampson and John Wheeler, at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 20, at Rochester Civic Theatre.
Raised on an Illinois hog farm, Ringenberg moved to Nashville in 1981 and formed an acoustic country/rock band that would become the Scorchers. While it may not have sold tons of records, the band won a worldwide following with its live show, which combined old-time rock and roll energy, punk swagger and grit. The band eventually would win the American Music Association Lifetime Achievement Award.
Ringenberg said when the Scorchers broke out in the 1980s, there wasn’t much thought about making music a long-term career. “It was so in the moment, and there was so much happening. I didn’t really have time to think about it,” he said.
But like many musical artists, he found that re-inventing yourself brought new audiences.
Ringenberg’s musical career took an unpredictable turn when he created Farmer Jason, a children’s entertainer. In 2003, he released his first children’s record, “A Day at the Farm with Farmer Jason.” He subsequently won an Emmy Award for the music. Ringenberg said the character really started out as a “cool thing to do for fun.”
“I had young kids, and we were listening to a lot of music with them,” Ringenberg said. “And I was struck that kids could listen to the same music over and over again. They’re like a member of the family. It was all for fun, but it’s become a very important part of my musical life now.”
You might think playing for two such dissimilar audiences, children and adults, might dictate a difference in approach for an entertainer, but that’s not true, Ringenberg said.
“The way you deal with them is quite similar,” he said. “Both audiences are really loud. Both audiences cry a lot. Both audiences spill stuff. A bar crowd and day care crowd, there’s a lot of similarities actually.”
Today, Ringenberg has remained true to his roots, farming 60 acres of non-GMO corn. Coming from a multigenerational farming family, he says he’s enjoyed working the land. But the biggest challenge is not the work, but the risk.
“It’s an incredibly risky business. Farming is even riskier than the music business, and that’s saying something,” he said.
If you go
What: Americana Showcase featuring Jason Ringenberg, Hayward Williams, Brandon Sampson and John Wheeler
When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 20.
Where: Rochester Civic Theatre, 20 Civic Center Drive SE
For ticket information, call 507-282-8481 or visit www.rochestercivictheatre.org. Individual tickets are $19 in advance, $24 at the door.