A jukebox, something called a “dirty snowball”, a urinal and a sword fight somehow landed Jon Wheelock in L.A. to perform at Petty Fest, and we couldn’t be more proud.
Last week, Jon Wheelock (aka J-Council) took the national stage at The Best Fest’s “Petty Fest”, a two-night music festival with a star-studded roster of musicians to mark the 40th anniversary of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. But it should be known the Kaukauna native’s road to the Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles started nearly 18 months ago with a little help from a jukebox, Miller High Life, and the inevitable physiological consequence of the latter.
It was in the bathroom of Cleo’s, a bar in Appleton that glows year-round with Christmas lights and decor and whose claim to fame is a slushy cocktail called a “dirty snowball,” where Jon Wheelock first met Appletonian Cory Chisel, a fellow performer at “Petty Fest.”
Amidst a crowded bar, the two – still un-introduced to each other at this point – had each been plugging the jukebox throughout the evening. Eventually, those dirty snowballs, or High Life in Jon’s case, do their deed. So Jon and Cory soon found themselves side-by-side, or rather side-by-urinal-side, as it were, having their own little sing-along to Ben E. King’s “Stand by Me” in the men’s room. And the rest is history, or in this case…still just the beginning.
Proceeds from “The Best Fest” LA shows on September 13 & 14, at which Wheelock performed Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers “Refugee”, will be going directly to The Refuge Foundation for the Arts in Appleton, where their ongoing artist-in-residence program “offers sanctuary for the pursuit of creative expression and community engagement”.
Wheelock recorded his debut EP as the first-ever participant of The Refuge’s artist-in-residency program. Though a seasoned musician, prior to this he had never written a song of his own.
Listen to J-Council’s live performance (w/ a special intro from Cory Chisel)
Text: Brian Tellock
Photos: Sam Farrell