An alt-country artist whose work combines broad humor and deeply personal storytelling, Jonathan Russell Fritz has released music under the names Jonny Fritz and Jonny Corndawg. Born in Montana, Fritz was raised in Esmont, Virginia, and soaked up the influence of vintage country singers and songwriters such as Roger Miller, Waylon Jennings, Tom T. Hall, Jerry Reed, and Kris Kristofferson. By the time he was 17, Fritz was writing songs and playing shows wherever a venue was willing to book him, and using Philadelphia as a base of operations when he wasn't on the road. Fritz said he spent more than ten years writing and playing shows all across the United States and on several foreign continents, making friends with like-minded musicians and slowly but surely developing an audience.
In 2008, Fritz recorded his first album, I'm Not Ready to Be a Daddy, in Philadelphia with a local band, the Extraordinaires, backing him up. Shortly after it was released on Fritz's Nasty Memories Records label under the moniker Jonny Corndawg, he moved to Nashville, and soon found kindred spirits on the more free-spirited side of the local singer/songwriter community. In 2010, Jonny Corndawg released a split single with Deer Tick, and the following year, the second Corndawg album appeared, Down on the Bikini Line. Jackson Browne was impressed enough with Fritz's material to offer him the use of his recording studio, and with Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes serving as producer, they recorded his third album in less than a week.
The album proved to be a breakthrough for Fritz; titled Dad Country, it was his first release as Jonny Fritz (believing the name Corndawg made him sound like a novelty act), and it landed him a deal with the noted independent label ATO Records. The album earned enthusiastic reviews, and Fritz and his band (Joshua Hedley on fiddle, Spencer Cullum, Jr. on pedal steel, Taylor Zachry on bass, and Jerry Pentecost on drums) began playing bigger and more prestigious gigs, sharing stages with Dawes, Alabama Shakes, Shooter Jennings, and Jamestown Revival. In October 2016, Fritz released his fourth album (and second under his own name), Sweet Creep. ~ Mark Deming