Band Press

Rocking the Locals: Deephaven hobby band develops its groove

ONCE A WEEK, five lake-area guys, all but one in

their 50s, get together in Paul Norton’s Deephaven

basement to thrash out three-chord anthems with

guitars, bass, drums and keyboards, and play rock

star. The members of Static Jones Band all have

day jobs and other adult responsibilities, but every

Wednesday night, they put those on the back burner

to indulge in pure, amplified musical expression.

They also play occasional gigs and have developed a

following in the lake area.

Most of the band members can walk to practice.

Four of the five members live in the Heathcote

neighborhood in Deephaven; the only exception is

drummer-vocalist-songwriter Jay Hyre, who lives in

Excelsior. In addition to host Paul Norton, the other

members of Static Jones are bassist Judd Williams,

guitarist-vocalist-songwriter Dave Jaffray and keyboardist

Tim Roesler.   The four have known each other for roughly 15

years, and “we talked for a number of years about playing

together,” Norton recalls. Norton, a Maple Grove

native, has been playing guitar and writing songs since

his 20s, and played in a number of rock bands before

this one. “My idea was to be an original band,” he says.

Most local bands made up of middle-aged musicians

are cover bands, he notes, describing Static Jones Band’s style as “indie rock and Americana.”   In addition to original songs, they do

a few favorite covers, too, by well-known

artists like Jackson Browne, the Rolling

Stones, Big Head Todd and others, choosing

to eschew hits in favor of highlighting

more obscure B-sides. “You might not

know the songs, but the sound is very

familiar,” says Norton.   Using double-hung windows, sheetrock

and sound-insulating materials, Norton

created a practice room in his basement,

where the guys are free to play as loud as

they need to. Three years ago, they started

practicing in earnest and assembling a set

list, and played their first gig at Bayside

Grille in early 2014.

Every six or eight weeks, the band plays

at local venues like Excelsior Brewing Co.

and Victor’s on Water in Excelsior, and

the Astor Cafe and Driftwood Char Bar in

Minneapolis. “We just love playing, and if

people like coming to hear us, that’s great.

It’s really fun to see these guys who have

always been in cover bands writing songs,”

Norton says. “One of the great things

about Minnesota and the western suburbs

is that there are a lot of venues that welcome

bands playing original music. You

don’t have to be a cover band. The places

we play have been incredibly supportive.”

All the members have day jobs “doing

very different things,” says Norton, who

runs The Village Company. Norton and

his wife moved to Deephaven 18 years ago

with their sons.

Hyre moved to the area from Cincinnati

four years ago and met Norton through a

mutual friend; he’s been playing with the

group for about four years. Hyre, who has

also been a songwriter since his youth,

says he appreciates the fact that the band’s

occasional gigging doesn’t interfere with

family and job responsibilities. “It’s different

from when you’re 17 or 18 years

old and you think you’re going to conquer

the world,” Hyre says. “With us, it’s family

first, job first.”

The band has made live recordings, and

might produce an album one of these days,

Norton says. The primary goal is always at

the center: having fun playing music, says

Norton. “It’s a wonderful distraction.”