EDIT: Along For The Ride features songs written by Georgia Music Hall of Fame inductees Buddy Buie, JR Cobb (The Atlanta Rhythm Section/Classics 4/Roy Orbison) and Danny O’Keefe (“Good Time Charlie’s Got The Blues”). Producer/Keyboardist Kenny Kirby (Sly & The Family Stone, Van Morrison/Linda Creed) was recently honored by the Alabama Hall of Fame as a Music Achiever. Also featured are Fred Vigdor on sax (Michael McDonald/Average White Band) and another Georgia Music Hall of Fame inductee: Ric Seymour on guitar (Wet Willie).
Singer-songwriter Bob Jeter converted to Judaism in the early 1980s after undertaking a spiritual quest with his wife. After going through the conversion process and rediscovering his love for music, Jeter now performs around town with the Ariel David Band, a Jewish simcha rock outfit.
Last month Jeter released his first solo EP with a cast of all-star musicians. “Along for the Ride” is available at www.jeternthejets.com.
Jeter visited the AJT offices to chat about his family, conversion and musical influences.
AJT: Your new EP, “Along for the Ride,” has some big names attached. How did you manage to get that talent?
Jeter: I went to Craigslist looking for a piano player, and I ran across this guy named Kenny Kirby who has played with a lot of big acts. You know, once you’re in the club, you know the guys. So he got this group together, and you can look at the résumés. Kenny played with Van Morrison and Sly and the Family Stone. Ric Seymour is in the Georgia Music Hall of Fame with Wet Willie, and Fred Vigdor is a great sax player who has toured with Michael McDonald.
AJT: What’s your musical background like?
Jeter: When I was young, I used to sing in rhythm and blues bands, so it’s always been a passion for me. I didn’t pick up the guitar till I was 20 years old. When I went to Europe in the 1970s, I started writing songs. As my kids got older, I got back into music and formed a band with them, Jeter and the Jets.
AJT: So Jeter and the Jets is a father-son band?
Jeter: Yeah, we started playing in the garage, and even though I have one kid in New York and one in Florida, I used that as a band name on occasion.
AJT: I understand you also have a third band that plays Jewish simchas?
Jeter: I work often with guitarist Gedalya Silverstein and a few other guys in the Jewish community in the Ariel David Band. We play a lot of Jewish weddings and events. I’d say we have a Sephardic kind of feel with a Southern accent.
AJT: You’re a member of Congregation Beth Jacob now. What’s your Jewish background like?
Jeter: I was born in Richmond, Va., and I converted about 20 years ago.
AJT: What was behind the conversion?
Jeter: It was a search. My wife is Jewish, and we got married in the late ’70s but were not very religious. We sort of did a spiritual quest together as a couple, and the more I looked into her religion, the more I liked what I saw.
AJT: You’re performing next at the Broadway Cafe on Nov. 7. How did you swing that gig?
Jeter: Well, it’s in my neighborhood in Toco Hills. The young guy who took it over, Avi Alzadeh, used to play pro baseball, and he saw my name Jeter and asked me if I knew Derek. So that’s when we sort of hit it off. I said to him not only do Jeters play ball, they also do music. He booked us, and it’s nice that it’s in Toco Hills so we can get a lot of people from around there to come.