Scott Joss was often praised as the “heir to the Bakersfield throne” because of his early association with Tiny Moore and Merle Haggard and his later affiliation with Buck Owens and Dwight Yoakam. Born in Long Beach and raised in Redding, Joss was a native Californian whose roots ran deep. He learned to play fiddle from Jana Jae, the one-time wife and fiddle player for Buck Owens & His Buckaroos. Befriended by one of Bob Wills’ surviving Playboys, Tiny Moore, Joss was encouraged to develop his talent on a professional level after winning numerous California State Fiddle Championships. In 1980, at the age of 18, he got the call from Haggard. His first show as one of the Strangers was at Carnegie Hall. Still a little green, Joss returned to Redding to continue working on his performance skills before joining up with Merle and the band on the road. While with the Strangers, Joss spent time with Bakersfield guitarman Roy Nichols, who saw great promise in the young fiddle player.
Leaving the road and Merle was a hard decision, but Joss wanted to begin work on a band of his own. After moving to Sacramento, he hooked up with Dennis Barney, another California player from the early days. Barney, who became mentor and friend to the fledgling frontman, showed Joss the ropes and became a member of his band. After playing around California for a while, Joss was spotted by Pete Anderson, who produced, arranged, led the band, and played guitar for Dwight Yoakam. Bringing Joss into the fold in 1988 allowed Anderson to keep an eye on him and his career growth. Commuting between Sacramento and Los Angeles became a way of life for Yoakam’s fiddle player and harmony vocalist. On the road and in the studio, Joss had a full-time job as a member of the Babylonian Cowboys. Still, whenever he was in Sacramento he would pull together Barney, brother-in-law Don Weeks, and some other players and work on his solo venture. Eight years after signing on with Yoakam, Anderson and respected L.A. producer/engineer/bassman Dusty Wakeman (Rosie Flores, Dwight Yoakam, the Lonesome Strangers, Reach Around) took Joss into the all new Mad Dog Studios to start work on his first solo project.
Souvenirs was released in 1996 and hit Gavin’s Americana chart with all the force of a fast moving train, landing at number seven. Top cuts included two Jim Lauderdale songs, “Stay Out of My Arms,” a traditional shuffle, and the anthemic “Doin’ Time in Bakersfield.” Also included was one Joss original, “I Never Got Anywhere With You,” which proved that Scott Joss was indeed a worthy successor to Buck, Merle, and all the rest who created the Bakersfield sound.
by Jana Pendragon