Jason Ross spent eight years playing in rock bands, but these days he doesn’t have much company onstage.
Nearly every weekend evening, Ross can be found in a bar or coffee shop somewhere in North Carolina, strumming his acoustic guitar and singing his mellow, contemplative folk songs.
“I’m a singer-songwriter, so the creative process has been a lot more freeing” as a solo artist, said Ross, 32. “All of the creative juices come from me instead of a bunch of people.”
The Garner native moved back to Raleigh about a year ago, and he has become a growing presence on the city’s folk music scene. On Wednesday night, he’ll share a bill at Deep South The Bar with three other area songwriters.
“I play a lot of smaller venues,” he said. “I like the coffee shop-type atmosphere, but I like the smaller venues that are geared toward music, like Deep South and the Pourhouse.”
Ross played his first note at age 15 during a summer camp, and he has been a musician ever since. He said he is inspired by the Avett Brothers and other folk musicians.
“Bob Dylan’s probably my biggest influence,” he said. “I like a lot of old Appalachian folk artists.”
He has found the folk and Americana style fits him better than his rock ‘n’ roll days. He writes the lyrics like a poem, then works out the song’s melody.
“A lot of my songs come out of reflection,” Ross said. “I’d say more of it comes out of trying to understand life. It can be experiences or people, places I’ve been. I’ve never written a whole lot of your love song type of writing.”
Some of the songs from his last album, “Where I’ve Fallen,” take a darker tone. In the song “This is Where I Live,” he sings about “the ashes of a broken dream.”
The CD was released just last year, but Ross said he has written so many songs since then that most of his shows feature new music. He’ll head back to the studio this month for his next recording. He plans to bring in more musicians to help, rather than playing the back-up instruments himself. “I’m trying to work with a more full band,” he said.
As his calendar of gigs fills up, Ross has cut his day job at the family used car business to three days a week. “I try to book as many Thursday to Sunday shows as I can,” he said. “It’s just really trying to get my name out there.”
Still, Ross is realistic about how far his music might take him.
“I don’t have any aspiration of getting rich and famous,” he said. “I aim to be able to provide for my family.
“Songwriting is definitely where my heart is.”