24 Feb, 2015

Folk Alliance International 2015 – The JR Experience

Maria the Mexican just finished a 5 day weekend of showcases and camaraderie and this year’s Folk Alliance International Conference in KC. All I can say is “Gosh!, Wow! and What a deal!”. Ok… I’ve got lots more to say than that about this amazing conference in our own back yard.

Over 200 acts from around the world came to the deep-wintertime, “Paris of the Plains” to participate in the week long showcase and conference and/or the music fair and camp at the Westin Crown Center and Sheraton Hotels.

The camp and conference offered a plethora or options for clinics, seminars, master-classes, concerts, special presentations, awards ceremonies, jam sessions and meet-ups.

Bela Fleck was a big name that I missed! Boo.

The term “Folk” is pretty inclusive here with artists in almost every subgenre from ethnic music, old-time, bluegrass, acoustic, electric freakouts, singer-songwriter, spoken-word, jazz, jam and beyond.

My week with MtM included 5 performances, seeing old friends, meeting new ones, hanging out, going to as much as possible and pulling some all-nighters in the private room showcases (fueled responsibly by KC’s own J. Reiger’s Whiskey and Boulevard beer). Plainly said… this was great!!!

Here’s some of the highlights..

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Big thanks to MtM, the bands, our friends, volunteers and conference folks that made this a truly memorable experience. We’re lucky to have this in KC.

Looking forward to next year!!!

18 Feb, 2015

Maria the Mexican at The Folk Alliance International Conference

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Maria the Mexican is honored to be selected for an official showcase at this week’s Folk Alliance International Conference in Kansas City.

The band will perform for a total of 4 showcases and one off-site show at Knucklehead’s. The conference is hosting acts from all-over the world. Everyone completely takes of the Westin Crown Center hotel for ’round the clock seminars, concerts, key-speakers and jamming!

It’s kind of a big deal!!!

24 Jan, 2015

Maria The Mexican – Besame Mucho Live

New Live Video from Maria the Mexican

Recorded Live at the Voodoo Lounge, 2014!

Maria Cuevas – vox, guitar
Teresa (Tess) Cuevas – vox
Garrett Nordstrom – guitar
Ken Lovern – B-3 organ
Mike Patrum – drums
Craig Kew – bass
JPR – guitar

Matthew Russo – Audio Mixing
Tim Huggins – Video Editing

20 Jan, 2015

Music Teachers National Association


It appears I’m finally a member in good standing! MTNA is a great organization the gives benefit and support to the important work done by American Music Educators.

We also have a wonderful local chapter, The St. Joseph Area Music Teachers Association or SJAMTA that is filled with a talented and caring cast of friends and colleagues. Looking forward to working along side them in strengthening the bonds of music and art for all ages in our community.

8 Jan, 2015

The 365 Day Guitar Challenge

Big Pick Master“Only practice the days you sleep and the days you eat!” Sounds simple enough?

When I was younger, my dream was to be a professional musician. There is an old adage that says “you are what you eat” so with that logic if I pick up my instrument everyday (maybe even work or play at it a little), eventually I’ll become a real instrumentalist.

That’s been my simplest philosophy for a long time. I’m sure my students hear it a lot. Easier said than done, though. Keep it in mind the next time you’re thinking about skipping a meal or pulling an all-nighter.

Another part of the exercise is the realization that you can never make up a missed day. That opportunity is gone and you can’t get it back. Might as well just pick that thing up for a few minutes RIGHT NOW and mark off today.

I’ll admit, I’ll have to miss a day now and then. Life is hectic, things happen or if you’re a younger musician, your time may not be your own to schedule. I try not to make a habit of missing it though. I’m a guitarist so I play guitar… everyday. Thanks to gigs and students being around, I am forced to pick it up even when I may not exactly be “in the mood”. That’s a huge benefit of this routine too.

Maybe you’d like to participate with me in the 365 Day Guitar Challenge this year? Drop me a note and I’ll send you the form! jason@jasonriley.com

Actually it doesn’t have to be about the guitar, just anything you want to imbed into the routine of your daily life. It works great for all kind of things! Languages, exercise, creative skills or whatever. Write everyday… You’re a writer! Juggle everyday… (you might need some other help but…) You’re a juggler!

For me, this is not about the total time spent. Sure you could pick it up and practice diligently for hours but the real exercise is in just picking it up and holding your instrument a little everyday.

Remember, only the days you sleep or the days you eat! Now who does that? Musicians do that.

31 Dec, 2014

Coda 2014 – The Year In Review

2014 was not a year for the timid or faint of heart. It was 365 days of plectrum to the string and pedal to the metal to get it all in.

133 shows with 10 different acts and roughly 20,000 miles traveled. I’ve literally got the best job ever. What a gift to be able to play fun music with great friends.

Some really cool things happened for us this year including a few firsts for me.

Big “THANK YOU” to the musicians, friends, family and fans that fuel this perpetual motion machine. I’m grateful.

Without further ado… Here’s a few highlights from 2014!!!!

Maria the Mexican was invited to perform for the Midwest Takeover in Austin, Texas during this year’s SXSW conference. This was my first opportunity to take part in this annual meeting of all media.

I was cruising with bassist, Craig Kew and Organist, Ken Lovern. We scoured the entire Texas city in search of a C3 Hammond organ and leslie for Ken to play during our showcase. We played our show and took it right back. Thanks organ guy!

Hoodoo @ the Voodoo ’14Screen Shot 2014-05-11 at 10.10.54 AM

If you ever get the chance to get 20 or your closest friends and favorite musicians on one stage together, I suggest you just go for it. This will be one of my great memories for a long time to come. MtM, Soca J and UTI on stage for one night together at the Voodoo Lounge.

We have tons of great video and photos from that night that we’re still going through. Incredible to have so many family and friends there for this one.
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Soca Summer Tour

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Soca Jukebox was on the road non-stop for one of the busiest seasons the band has ever seen. We spent a lot of time in getting the routing right for this one to pull out a record number of dates in just a few months.

Soca releases Live Voodoo & Live Voodoo Too
voodoo The very first commercial release for Soca Jukebox! Congratulations guys. This one has been a long time coming. The culmination of 2 live recordings (also from the Voodoo Lounge) released as a limited edition CD.

My First Baseball Game.

IMG_1105So… believe it or not, I’ve never been to a REAL baseball game… like in a stadium. When Soca was playing in Des Moines for Chris and Erin’s wedding, they invited us all down to the Iowa Cubs game for the day-after celebration.

Now I’m totally sold on going more often. I’ll just presume that whenever I get to go, we’ll have our sky-box full of food, libation and fun folks.

Maria The Mexican’s “Moon Colored Jade” receives Independent Music Award for Album Art.
So proud of our art for this record and the work of the Artist, Angie Pickman at RuralPearl.com. Her piece was a standout in the category and she really earned it. Congratulations, Angie!

5452519448947.image Once in a great while I’ll get the opportunity to work on a larger scale broadway-style musical production. They are a lot of fun, a lot of work for a lot of folks and draw on a slightly different set of skills.

I jumped at the chance to do this one!

Word of Life Christmas Show
IMG_1358 This show is an annual event for The Word of Life Church. It was epic in every sense of the word. This was another one for my wish list. Incredible arrangements including jazz, rock and funk style. Too Much Fun.

BIG THANKS to my whole family and to my brothers and sisters in music…
UTI, Soca, Pig Farmer, The Nova Project, Ed Daniels, Maria the Mexican, Bryan Alford, Larry at Awestruck, Joel at Element, Matthew Russo, Ben Brodin at ARC, Lisa at Chism PR, Amy at Backstory Images, Brian Turner, Eric Stark, The Reverend Jimmie Bratcher, The Regular Joe, Shea, Andrew and Todd at the News Press, Rick Brown, the Music dept. of MWSU and Benedictine College, this year’s fairs and festival boards, all our agencies, Andrew Riley at Keen Meanie Design, Wegen Picks, Dean Markley Strings, Godin Guitars, David Burke, Photographers, Videographers, Sound and Lighting Crews, Fat Guys in Women’s t-shirts and everyone on our select mailing list. You guys are the best and we wouldn’t be here without you.

Happy New Year!!!!!
I could talk at length about almost any show this year, the people we met and what it took to pull it off.

2015 is already holding some really magnificent opportunities for us and I can’t wait to share them.

Thanks for being a part of the journey with us. Wishing you and yours all the best in the new year. Peace.

jason and co.

18 Dec, 2014

Holiday Music Videos


Here’s a photo of me and my friend, Josh Myers. If you’re looking for some great guitar playing, this guy is scary good.

I had such a great time jamming with him recently at the Word of Life Church Annual Christmas Concert “Amidst the Winter Snow”.

I was probably the weak link in a show filled with Spirit, incredible arrangements, top-notch sound and lighting and amazing musicianship.

Check out a few selections here…

New Noel

Little Town of Bethlehem (Hot Club Style)

Ukrainian Bell Carol – Rock Guitar Christmas

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16 Dec, 2014

Skype Lessons

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I’ve had some requests for Skype lessons from advancing guitarists out of our immediate locale. I’ve made some limited time for just 5 of these tutorials during the weeks between January 5 – 19, 2015.

Gift certificates are available for anyone wishing to add some value to the music students in their life.

Lessons include…

• 1 Hour Online Lesson with me via Skype.
• Free Email Consultation, Scheduling and Follow-up.
• Free Materials Included (enough to keep you busy for months)

BUY NOW through the button below.

skype lesson image

Please feel free to send me a note directly at jason@jasonriley.com for questions or additional information.

Thank you and look forward to working with you or your music student.

Happy Holidays!


5 Dec, 2014

Amidst the Winter Snow

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Word of Life Church’s Annual Christmas show is a major event. I feel so lucky to have been invited to play in the show and with the incredible musicians there.

Great charts of holiday favorites arranged by the talented and multi-faceted, Eric Stark. (Eric arranged the horn parts and played trumpet for “Moon Colored Jade” by MtM to great fanfare.)

We’ll have a jazz combo section featuring some of the finest musicians in our area (or any other) including bassist Bob Bowman, drummer Mike Shanks and Eric on horn.

The full band will deliver familiar songs and a rocking finale that would be Trans-siberian Orchestra approved!

Hope you can make it. Sunday, Dec. 7 at 7pm. Word of Life Church, 3902 N Riverside Rd, St Joseph, MO 64505
(816) 233-6367

Here’s a video of me with Eric’s jazz combo at last year’s holiday pops concert with the St. Joseph Symphony… Sweet Little Jesus Boy

2 Dec, 2014

48-Hour Holiday Package Sale

Limited Number for a limited time! I’ve been authorized to make only 15 JR Holiday CD Packages available until Friday (or while they last) for just 20 bucks

Get 3 of our most popular recent titles to share. You can split them up, keep them for yourself or gift the whole package.


Live Voodoo and Live Voodoo Too – Soca Jukebox
Moon Colored Jade – Maria The Mexican
Funky Folk – Jason Riley

Just $20 and a little shipping for the next 48 Hours.

voodooMaria the Mexican - Moon Colored Jade Album Artfunky-folk

We make our music independently and it’s made for sharing. Thank you for supporting our work and for giving the gift of independent music!