Introducing… JD Weaver
This young Cheshire singer-songwriter isn’t letting disability stand in the way of getting his music – and his message – heard
Name: Jason Daniel Weaver
Location: Sandbach, Cheshire, UK
Style: “I call it ‘Anglicana’ – indie meets country, folk and blues”
Look out for: His debut EP Where Eagles Fly, available on Soundcloud
“Like Americana, but done by a miserable northerner,” is how JD Weaver describes his music. He’s being self-deprecating there, though – Jason’s not miserable in person, and nor is his music, a lively fusion of guitar-based indie (Hard-Fi would be one comparison) with more traditional elements. The difference between Jason and a hundred other teenaged singer-songwriter hopefuls, though, is that he’s done it all from a wheelchair.
He was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy at the age of nine – “until then I was just like any other little lad, dreaming of being a cowboy or an astronaut” – and experienced bullying and social exclusion as a result. But that, he says, is what led to him making music. “I got bullied a lot, so I used to just immerse myself in music. My Dad brought me up on rock and blues, and my Auntie Josie in America got me into folk and bluegrass music. John Lee Hooker and Joni Mitchell were my two favourites.
“I’ve always played guitar, but a few years ago I felt I needed to do something creative to express myself, so I started writing stuff. I sent off a few demos, and just kept honing my music until now I think it’s at an all right standard. And then I hit a brick wall, because it’s hard to get my name out there – I can’t gig very much due to access issues. But then the Round Table put up £2,000 for me to make my EP.”
The resulting EP, Where Eagles Fly, can be heard on Soundcloud now (with the track Native Man below). If you listen closely, you’ll realise there’s a theme to the lyrics, as Jason explains. “I see disabled people being mistreated and discriminated against on a daily basis. So I wanted to write about it… but nobody wants to see a ruddy-faced, chubby northerner crying about his life! So rather than writing about disability, I decided to write about people who are discriminated against more generally, and the EP’s about how indigenous people around the world are mistreated. It’s a concept based around two characters: the Native Man, and the Eagle, who represents society. And the Eagle eventually realises he’s let a lot of people down.”
Jason’s currently seeking distribution for the EP, and hopes eventually to record a full-length album. But, all too aware of the ticking clock of his condition, he’s modest in his ambitions. “Really, if someone hears what I’ve got to say, I’ve achieved what I wanted,” he says. “I’m certainly not looking for any favours. I just wanted to show that, you know – I’m disabled, not dead! I have the ability to do things regardless of my health. And if people like it great, if they don’t that’s fair enough, at least I had a go. Disabled people just want the chance to fail or succeed like anyone else.”