Originally Published: November 30, 2014 6:04 a.m.
"Up and down the streams of whiskey, on Whiskey Row ..." - "Whiskey Row," by Jamie Jeffries
Jamie Jeffries wants to make one thing clear - she loves her hometown.
A Prescott girl by birth, she said she has powerful memories of growing up in the community, and her fondest hope is that she can one day re-purchase the home her family built and later lost in Prescott Valley's Poquito Valley.
But like young people the world over, Jeffries, 23, knew she wanted more than to live her entire life in the community in which she was born.
Unlike many of her peers, though, Jeffries has a songwriting talent and she decided to put her feelings to music.
The striking lyrics of Jeffries' new song "Whiskey Row" make her views immediately apparent: "I don't want to live and die on Whiskey Row," she sings. "I got bigger and better places to go."
The song, which is available on Jeffries' Reverbnation website at www.reverbnation.com/jamielynnsmusic, takes an unflinching look at Prescott's most famous street.
"It's easy to get in; it's easy to get stuck there," Jeffries sings. And the chorus: "Up and down the streams of whiskey, on Whiskey Row."
Jeffries, whose songwriting skills were unleashed several years ago while she was dealing with the death of a young friend, said the idea for "Whiskey Row" came to her during a conversation with her mother about her sister's plans to move out of state.
"I said, 'You raised us to be more than what's around us,'" Jeffries said. Then, she added the line that inspired the song. "I said, 'I don't want to just live and die in Prescott.'"
Soon afterward, Jeffries decided to make the move herself. After touring with California-based rock/reggae band Warsaw for a time, Jeffries moved to Nashville to start a recording career.
She acknowledges that her "Whiskey Row" lyrics are provocative. In fact, a line in the song alludes to that: "I hate to offend, but I can't pretend this is a healthy kind of fun," the lyric states.
"It's nothing against my hometown," Jeffries said recently in a telephone interview from Nashville. "I've had great times on Whiskey Row. It's just not the only times I want to have."
For Jeffries, music has been central to those good times. In fact, the musical gene goes back generations in her family.
Formerly Jamie Cook, she is the granddaughter of pastor Jim Riley. For years, a multi-generational Riley/Cook family group has performed in churches and at Prescott's signature holiday event, the Acker Musical Showcase.
"My family has always been the musical pastors," Jeffries said.
While she draws from that country/gospel background, Jeffries has crafted a sound all her own.
"Obviously, I'm generationally different," she said. "For the most part, I stick to the moral message, and I've always had a country influence."
But if she had to put name to her style, Jeffries said it would be a "country-bluesy" sound.
"I have a unique style," Jeffries said. "Now, I'm at the point where I make my own sound."
Although Jeffries occasionally performed solo while she lived in Prescott, she said launching a musical career would have been difficult in her hometown.
"It's hard in Prescott to pursue anything in the musical world," she said.
To begin recording, she said, Nashville was the obvious choice. "There is a lot of help here," she said.
While on tour with Warsaw, Jeffries not only honed her performing skills, but she met and married her husband and manager Shawn Jeffries.
For his part, Jeffries admires his wife's songwriting candor.
"Jamie loves Prescott and Whiskey Row and everything the tri-city area has to offer, but she isn't afraid to say she wants more than that," he said. "She is loyal, but blunt."
Since moving to Nashville, Jeffries has spent much of her time recording. Her website also features a new song, "Dolce Angeli," which she wrote for a couple in Prescott who were dealing with a loss.
"The songs I write are very personal," she said, noting her first song "Danny Boy" allowed her to pour out her grief over her lost friend.
Before that, she said, "I didn't realize I could write."
Now, she sees her lyrics as a way to help herself, as well as others.
"It's nice to be able to do what I love, and help people in the process," she said.
Follow Cindy Barks on Twitter @Cindy_Barks.