Jack Black goes country on Grammy-nominated CD

Is Black trading his SG for a banjo?
Is Black trading his SG for a banjo?

After searching for the Pick Of Destiny and teaching at the School Of Rock, Jack Black has taken a surprising turn and gone country - bluegrass, to be exact - and it's definitely a family affair.

Those expecting a kung fu punchline from the comic actor and musician are in for a shock: Black, 39, turns in a stirring vocal performance on the traditional song Old Joe Clark on his father-in-law Charlie Haden's Grammy-nominated album Rambling Boy.

Hillybilly roots

"I wasn't sure what to expect because I haven't recorded or really sung any old songs like that before, bluegrass style, but it came very naturally and I cranked it out in two takes," Black tells the Associated Press. "There was something in the music that I think struck a chord in my DNA. I think I've got some hillbilly in my roots."

"I'm already practicing my square dancing if we play the Grand Ole Opry" Jack Black

Originally, Black wasn't slated to sing on the album. But when Charlie, an esteemed jazz bassist who made the record to pay tribute to the bluegrass music he grew up on, played him a mix of He's Gone Away, which features the harmonies of The Haden Triplets (featuring Black's wife, Tanya, along with her sisters Rachel and Petra), Black discovered he liked what he heard.

He was especially taken with the instrumental track Old Joe Clark. "A great jam," Black called it. When he expressed interest in adding vocals to the song, a studio session was arranged quickly.

An all-star lineup

Black, no musical slouch he, joins an impressive array of talents on Rambling Boy: Elvis Costello, Ricky Skaggs, Vince Gill and Roseanne Cash are just a few of the famous names that turn up.

So, the big question is this: Has Black, one-half of the Dio-loving, acoustic metal duo Tenacious D, left the Sunset Strip for the Nashville Skyline? "I'm already practicing my square dancing if we play the Grand Ole Opry," he says.

You can hear Black sing Old Joe Clark on Charlie Hayden's MySpace page.

Joe Bosso

Joe is a freelance journalist who has, over the past few decades, interviewed hundreds of guitarists for Guitar WorldGuitar PlayerMusicRadar and Classic Rock. He is also a former editor of Guitar World, contributing writer for Guitar Aficionado and VP of A&R for Island Records. He’s an enthusiastic guitarist, but he’s nowhere near the likes of the people he interviews. Surprisingly, his skills are more suited to the drums. If you need a drummer for your Beatles tribute band, look him up.