“Nashville” star Jonathan Jackson pitch-perfect at HRC

Jonathan Jackson on lead vocals for Enation at the Hard Rock Cafe on May 31. All photos by Hayley Martin.

Jonathan Jackson on lead vocals for Enation at the Hard Rock Cafe on May 31. All photos by Hayley Martin.

The Hard Rock Café was bursting with talent on May 31 when Jonathan Jackson and Enation performed to a packed crowd with pitch-perfect, inspiring music.

“I’m really excited to play and be here in Pittsburgh,” said Jonathan.

While you may not be familiar with Enation, you might be very familiar with Jonathan Jackson, who currently stars as Avery on the hit television show, Nashville. Fans might also remember him from his longstanding role of Lucky on General Hospital, as Jesse Tuck in Tuck Everlasting or from various other appearances on the small and silver screens.

The members of Enation include Jonathan on guitar and lead vocals, his brother, Richard (who is also an actor who starred as Derek in “Bring it On Again” among other roles) on drums, and their best friend Daniel Sweatt on bass.

“We’ve been playing together so long it feels natural,” said Richard. “We’ve been together since we were teenagers. It’s great fun to do creative things with your brother and friends. A lot of the music and acting has brought us together. We were once siblings fighting as kids and now we can do something that complements each other.”

Together this trio makes music so beautiful it moves the soul. Their songs defy any standard genre, quite unlike so many bands today those entire song catalog sounds the same. Every song has a unique influence ranging from country to rock.

Daniel Sweatt jams with Enation at the Hard Rock Cafe

Daniel Sweatt jams with Enation at the Hard Rock Cafe

“[My inspiration] goes through cycles in my life,” said Jonathan Jackson. “There was a period early on that I listened to REM constantly and then U2. I get into an artist and listen to everything they’ve ever done.”

Performing tracks from their most recent release, “Radio Cinematic,” the band is a force on stage from the first note of perfection to the last. Many songs tell a very powerful story and inspire greatness – such as “The Morning of Rain” which Jonathan counts himself fortunate to have sung on Nashville in season one. The anthem “Everything is Possible” also had the cheering and singing along.

“Some songs are stories, some are just talking about thoughts, feelings and emotions,” said Jonathan Jackson. “Some are abstract and some are specific. But we do approach the songs from a place of storytelling. That’s why we called the album, Radio Cinematic, because it’s music and film connecting and telling a story through music.”

Drummer Richard Jackson

Drummer Richard Jackson

When listening to the lyrics for Enation songs, it’s pure poetry, and Jonathan Jackson is no stranger to the form. He has a published collection of poetry inspired with deep, emotional themes called Book of Solace and Madness.

“’Cinematic’ just felt like it was years in the making,” said Jonathan. “I’ve been writing since I was 11 years old so I’ve written hundreds of songs, but that felt like something clicked and it expressed a lot of what means a lot to me. It’s a love song and a spiritual anthem for the journey the band has gone through over the last 10 years.”

The band is also committed to helping charitable organizations. Enation is currently working with the Syria Project to help people in the Middle East.

“We’ve been inspired by different [Middle Eastern] artists and bands [and] their music is more than just entertainment,” said Jonathan. “They have a purpose behind it. There’s such a crisis going on in the Middle East and in America we’re often disconnected from it. We’re just trying to get basic help to these people.”

If you’ve never heard Jonathan Jackson and Enation, you should pick up their album today. The powerful songs are relatable, connectable and full of passion. Enation might be writing their own musical scripts – but you’ll find your own life in the words.
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Story and all photos by Hayley Lynn Martin for Pennsylvania Bridges

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