Jon Wolfe has become a staple in the Texas country music scene over the last decade. We were able to catch up with him before he headlined at Del Norte Tacos in Godley last month. In this interview with Texas Country Tour, Jon Wolfe shares how his tequila company came to be, his favorite live music venues in Texas, and unforgettable moments he’s experience in his music career so far.
Answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.
TCT: Can you tell us about yourself?
JW: I was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma and raised in a little town called Miami, Oklahoma. I then went to college in Colorado. I started out in Houston playing beer joints and dance halls, probably 15 to 18 years ago. I moved to San Marcos briefly and then on to Nashville. Nashville back to Austin. I've been in Austin for probably 12, 13 years now. My wife and I currently live in New Braunfels. I’ve been touring full-time. I'm putting out music and slinging my tequila brand.
TCT: What inspired you to make that career jump you did from Chicago?
JW: I grew up playing and listening to country music. My stepfather was a bass player in our church, so I grew up around music. I just didn't really know how to do it. I didn't really know how to get into it. When I moved to Houston around 2005, they just had like a really kind of cool music scene. A lot of guys were there including Hayes Carl, Ryan Bingham, and Randy Rogers.
Playing small places ended up being a cool music scene. There were fantastic open mic nights. I just got my guitar and forced myself to go to open mic night and get over the stage fright. Once I sort of caught the bug, then I told myself, “All right, man. I'm going to leave my day job.”
That was really the big thing is just trying to get into a good music scene that you feel like you're supported.
TCT: Can you tell us about a particularly memorable performance experience you've had so far?
JW: I've had a lot of good ones over the years.
When I first started out, I got to open for Merle Haggard in Tulsa at the Brady Theater. I just played the Grand Ole Opry too, which would be another big, big thing. It’s important to know there’s an older generation of country singers that is really passing us by now.
I did two shows with Haggard while he was alive. The first one at Brady Theater was always like the most memorable to me. It was early in my career. My grandfather was there and he's a huge Hag fan. That was a big thing for me.
TCT: Who has always supported you unconditionally and how have they accomplished that?
JW: My wife and I have been together now for 10 years. She's always been there for me and of course my mom, as unconditionally as possible.
There's a few times along the way where they ask, “Hey, you might think about getting a job!” You know? My mom's always been there for me.
TCT: Why and how did Juan Lobo Tequila come into existence?
JW: Juan Lobo is my nickname in South Texas, especially when I go play in Corpus Christi. We have a huge Hispanic fan base down there. They just made it up and called me that. “Juan Lobo's, coming to town!” or “We're gonna go see Juan Lobo tonight!” I always thought that was a great nickname. At the time, I wasn't necessarily that knowledgeable in the complexities of tequila.
But over time I got into 100% Blue Agave Tequila, sipping tequilas, and learning about good tequila. A lot of folks were encouraging me to start a tequila company and of course I had the nickname Juan Lobo. That’s when the idea of Juan Lobo Tequila hit me.
We started working on the concept of Juan Lobo Tequila back in 2016. The brand's been out for about three and a half years. It took me a few years to develop the brand and get it to market, but that's how Juan Lobo came about.
TCT: At what point in your music career would you consider that you've “made it” if you haven't gotten there already?
JW: I don't know, that's a great question though. My old manager said artists are never happy. We never really feel like we're “there”, you know? I don't think I'll ever feel like I made it.
I kind of felt like that when I played the Opry. Outside of that experience, you never really feel like you make it.
TCT: What is your favorite Texas live music venue to perform at?
JW: That's really tough. I can't name a single favorite. Some of my favorites include Floore’s Country Store, Gruene Hall, and Billy Bob's Texas. They are a trifecta in my mind. So I would name all three of those venues to be my favorite. Those are three great venues, man. It's because they all have history of their own. They're hard to beat nationwide, to be honest with you.
TCT: What are you hoping to add to the country music genre?
JW: I think it's one of those deals where every artist is different. I've been on the road for 14 years now and I feel like I've put out a lot of good music.
I have never sang a song I didn't like. I was never sort of forced into singing something that I didn't want to sing. I think that's the big thing, man. I want to leave behind a bunch of music that I truly believe in. I feel like I'm a traditionalist in country music.
I want to encourage the tradition of country music. There's a lot of different sides to it now. There's the pop side and all that, but I hope I can leave behind a bunch of really great traditional country music.
Jon Wolfe has always been a welcoming and friendly face during my journey with Texas Country Tour. I was extremely appreciative I had the opportunity to pick his brain, further than just what his music can offer. He’s bringing a strong wave of traditionalism back to country music.
Be sure to check out his music below!
You can connect with Jon on social media via Instagram at @JonWolfeCountry. Also be sure to check out his website in order to catch a performance near you and purchase some awesome merchandise from his store. Finally, you can click here to learn more about Juan Lobo Tequila.