Watch a D.M. artist perform on the Hoyt Sherman balcony
Des Moines singer-songwriter Max Jury makes his Hoyt Sherman debut in a private show for Juice Sides Sessions. Hear his song, "Ella's Moonshine," off his self-titled debut album. Michael Zamora and Rodney White/For The Register
Max Jury is the latest Iowa musician to be featured in the monthly Juice Side Sessions series. Juice Side Sessions is a bi-monthly video series capturing Iowa musicians and artists performing in the heart of Iowa. Catch up with the entire series at dmjuice.com/sidesessions. Watch the video above and read an interview with Jury below.
Des Moines-raised musician Max Jury returned home from living for nearly a year-and-a-half in London tired yet relieved.
The up-and-coming piano-driven troubadour — who’s shared the stage with Rufus Wainwright and Lana Del Rey — spent much of 2016 appearing at festivals and tours across Europe, with the occasional North America gig. He released his long-awaited, self-titled debut record. He appeared at famed Texas music festival Austin City Limits. He even landed a glowing songwriting endorsement from “Uptown Funk” mastermind Mark Ronson (who can "listen to his album on repeat").
And now, he said he’s ready to spend some time at home.
Despite enjoying the global amenities and large city offerings of London, Jury said he missed the sense of community the city lacked — something the 24-year-old attributes to his Midwestern upbringing. He is set to perform at Wooly's in Des Moines' East Village on Dec. 22.
“London, for whatever ever reason, felt particularly bleak when I left,” Jury said. "The weather was terrible. It was getting dark so super early. I was having relationship issues. So I was like, ‘Get me home. I am ready for some Des Moines, Iowa, lovin’.'”
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The debut record, released in June on European label Marathon Artists, artfully blends soul, folk and traditional pop elements. Featuring transparent prose from beginning to end, the release shifts from somber (“Great American Novel” and “Beg and Crawl”) to uplifting (“Love that Grows Old”) with each track. Music tastemaking magazine Paste said the record holds a “sound that bridges the past and future,” while the New York Times compared Jury to legendary songwriters Wainwright and Tom Waits.
Looking back, Jury said he believes there things he’d do differently on the record, but he’s pleased with how it resonated.
“I think the record did well and I’m proud of it, but I’m always striving to do better,” Jury said. “(I’m) trying to grow and do better and make the music the best it can be.”
On one of the record’s most memorable tracks, the closing number “Home,” Jury swiftly sings the line, ‘I’m a long, long way from home.” The track works to capture the longing for stability Jury feels when he’s away from home.
“I was trying to capture was this idea of the more time I spent away from home and the more time I spend away from these people who are there for me, do I have a home to come back to? Do I have a home anywhere?” Jury said.
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Jury notes — while admitting to growing weary of life on the road — he ended the tour on a high note. He and his band closed the run of shows in Paris, playing a sold-out club of more than 500 people. Jury said it felt like the first true sellout of his career, where the entire audience felt connected to his music.
“It was a surreal experience for me,” he said. “You can feel (people were) really touched by the music and it meant something to them. That’s, in a way, why you do it and it’s exciting to see something like that.”
For Jury, 2017 holds new music and more touring. He hopes to have a new record written by spring and plans are already in motion for him to tour Europe and Australia before summer.
He may move to Los Angeles, he said, but isn’t ruling out staying in Des Moines.
“The (recording) sessions I did (in Los Angeles) were fruitful,” Jury said. “That might be where I end up, but I might stay in Des Moines. It’s cheaper; I enjoy it here. I’m not dying to move anywhere right now. I’m waiting to see what makes sense after the record’s done.”