A Conversation with Scott Joss
By Billy Pilgrim
Fiddle Me This
By Billy Pilgrim
THE FIRST TIME I saw Scott Joss was at a Merle Haggard concert in Redding in 2003. I recall being struck by his imposing stage presence. He was tall, exuded great confidence, played fiddle, and was sporting a very tall pompadour. There was quite the murmur in the crowd that night. “Who the heck is that guy?” Listeners were asking us the same question the morning after the show. It didn’t take long to find out that Merle Haggard’s new fiddle player was Redding’s own Scott Joss, recently of Dwight Yoakam’s band, and glad to be working with Merle again. I caught up with Scott recently just prior to his benefit concert at Old City Hall in Redding.
BILLY: Scott, I hear you have some new music coming out.
SCOTT: Yes, I do! I have been recording with Bruce Turgon at After Hours Recorders here in Redding. It should be ready in June and available on Miracle Mile Records, YouTube and Pandora. I am really looking forward to it.
BILLY: Do you remember the first time you heard yourself on the radio?
SCOTT: I do! It was the song “I Sang Dixie” from Dwight Yoakam’s “Buenos Noches From A Lonely Room.” I was living in Sacramento in a little apartment. I was excited, but I had heard the song on playback so many times in the recording studio that it didn’t hit me too hard. My friends were so excited! Probably more than I was.
BILLY: Other than Merle Haggard, who is the most interesting person you have ever met? I know you have met a lot of people, including Bob Dylan.
SCOTT: There was no one more interesting than Merle Haggard. Absolutely nobody. And I really miss him. I miss him every day.
BILLY: What’s the best advice Merle ever gave you?
SCOTT: He gave this advice to the world, and to me personally. He said, “Be honest about what you say and what you play. Don’t be something you’re not. Don’t be a phony.” Merle was as real as a human being can be.
BILLY: How have you survived the touring, the rock and roll lifestyle, managed to keep healthy, and stay together with Judy for so many years?
SCOTT: Well, I’m from Redding, and when I grew up here, we had special values - my parents instilled them in me. My parents taught me so much. Judy is such a wonderful person, and I promised her and myself that I would be loyal and real. Those are my Redding values. I have also tried to stay healthy by keeping in shape through walking. Judy and I walk together. We enjoy the Sacramento River Trail. I have kept track of my walking since I started and just reached the 17,000-mile mark. That’s a lot of walking!
BILLY: What’s in the future for you? Do you have any plans to tour?
SCOTT: I am very excited to be touring with Kris Kristofferson this summer. Kris is such a good guy, and one of America’s greatest songwriters. We are going back East for a few dates, and then on to Europe. It’s going to be fun.
BILLY: I had a tuna sandwich with Kris Kristofferson once.
SCOTT: I love that story.
Catch Scott Joss and his group of musician friends the next time he is playing near you. He has played with so many of the giants of music, and he’s a great front man and band leader himself. It’s an honor to know him.
Scott and Judy Joss live in Redding. •