Love of music, old cars drives Jordan
By ANGIE HAFLICH
Leon Jordan loves music and collecting old cars.
Jordan, along with Mike Blake, Dave Grothusen, Joe Irsik, Rod Loving, Carl Knaus and Tim Routon, play in The Million Dollar Band, and on Saturday night, the group played at Stevens Park at Razing the Roof, a benefit concert to help preserve the Windsor Hotel.
"Burl Loving plays the bass guitar, and he was playing with us and he said, 'You know? If you put all of these musicians together and the money they've made, this would be over a million-dollar band — because we're all from other bands," Jordan said. "He came up with that idea, and they just started calling it The Million Dollar Band, and it's been that ever since."
Routon said that most of the band's members have been playing so long that they don't really even need to rehearse.
"We've been rehearsing for this somewhat, but this is more of a jam band. We get together, we know a lot of music. We've all played a lot of music around here, so we know a lot of the same songs," Routon said.
Routon said he's been playing with Jordan and the other band members off and on since the early '90s.
"You get your licks in. You try to play with one another the best you can and try to create some good music, and I think we do our best, at trying anyway," he said, laughing.
Jordan and his wife, Debbie Jordan, are the owners of D.J.'s Fool Moon Saloon, 1621 Taylor Plaza, where a song written by Debbie, who is a drummer, is on the jukebox.
"There's a song in the jukebox in there that Debbie wrote. It's called 'Anna,'" Jordan said.
Jordan, who plays guitar, owns a trucking company called West Haven Home Transporting and drives a truck, hauling mobile homes to areas in Kansas and to surrounding states, while Debbie runs the bar.
Routon, who also plays guitar, said that the Jordans long have supported the local music scene.
"Leon and Debbie started a Musicians' Ball, a Christmas Ball," Routon said. "It started out at the Moose Lodge somewhere in the neighborhood of '88 to '98. For a lot of years, that was the only time we got to see fellow musicians."
Irsik, who plays the fiddle, said that Jordan has always been encouraging to local musicians.
"You know, when the band scene was in its hey day around here and stuff, you knew you always had a place to sit in (and play)," Irsik said.
One of Jordan's former bands, Memphis Express, played at Cottonwood Sands for 25 years.
"If I could die and come back again, I'd do that. I don't think I'd change much either, except maybe how much I got paid," Jordan said, laughing.
He said his wife played in Memphis Express for several years.
"She played at least 12 years in Memphis Express before the band split up, and she still plays here at the bar some nights," he said.
Jordan has been playing the guitar for about 58 years.
"I won a talent show when I was 12 years old. I did 'Hound Dog,' by Elvis Presley. I did that at Theoni School," he said.
Jordan said two of the songs he recorded in Nashville enjoyed some success on the charts.
"I had one song, 'Break out the Booze,' and it was on the charts — it was in Cashbox Magazine for four weeks," he said. "That was 1986. And then I had another one called, '50 Cents Away,' and it almost made the charts."
He said the way that a song made it onto the charts, at least back then, was determined by how many radio stations played it in one particular week.
"At the time, 'Break out the Booze' went on the charts, I think they needed about 20 radio stations across the nation to put it in their regular play list," Jordan said.
The band played both songs Saturday night. Other songs the band played at Saturday's show included covers, such as 'Margaritaville,' by Jimmy Buffet, 'Folsom Prison Blues,' by Johnny Cash, and 'Lonesome Fugitive,' by Merle Haggard.
Music isn't Jordan's only interest. He also collects and refurbishes old cars.
"I've got four of them. I've got a '52, a '55, a '56 and a '57," he said.
On Saturday, he was driving his shiny, red 1957 Chevy prior to heading to Stevens Park to help the headlining act, Asleep at the Wheel, unload their equipment.
"This car, we won a trophy about every other time we go to a car show. That's what it averaged. Sometimes it would win two or three times in a row, and sometimes it wouldn't get anything," Jordan said.
His current remodeling project is a 1955 Chevy pickup he is having painted. As far as music goes, Jordan said he is still learning.
"I don't think there's anybody that's ever mastered the guitar. There are some who have gotten close, but I didn't even get close. I didn't get in the first ring," Jordan said, laughing.