Jason Fraley returns to Deeper Shade of Blue for one last show

Jason Fraley, long time mandolinist/baritone singer with Deeper Shade of Blue, stepped down from the band at the end of 2022. He was prepping for extensive double jaw surgery, and looking to focus more on his family and his work as minister of music in his south central North Carolina church. 

Recovery from the surgery has been a long, difficult, and extremely painful journey, but the Monroe, NC, native isn’t ready to settle into an easy chair.

Fraley shared on social media, “As some of you know, I stepped down from my 22 year position playing mandolin with Deeper Shade of Blue. This was probably the toughest decision I’ve made in years. As life happened, I didn’t have a chance to be able to know when my last show would be. With that, I am happy to announce that I will be in concert with Deeper Shade of Blue for my official Farewell Concert, February 24 at Lee Park Baptist Church, 2491 Morgan Mill Road, Monroe, NC.”

In a recent phone interview, Fraley shared details of his recovery and his upcoming adieu with DSOB.

First off, he explained the reason for his jaw surgery. “It was something that I was born with, and it got worse as I became older. Between the dentist, orthodontist, and surgeon, it took a lot of preparation (for the procedure).”

Fraley talked about life after surgery.

“I am still having a little trouble talking clearly. It’s been a lot rougher than I anticipated. The first week was a blur. It involved a lot of pain, probably the most painful thing that I have ever been through, not only physically, but mentally. The surgeon had warned that the first week would be pretty dark for me. I didn’t really understand what he meant until I experienced it. Because of the trauma, I had bruising all the way down to my stomach. As I healed, the bruising moved further away from my face.”

He then outlined the healing process.

“There were really no complications, everything went as planned. The recovery has gone smoothly, but it is very long and drawn out. When basically every bone in your face has been moved and reconstructed, it is a long recovery to heal.

I’ve lost over 30 pounds because of the soft food diet that I’ve been on. It’s initially like being a baby again where I have to learn how to eat and to talk clearly. It takes months for all the swelling to subside. The full 100% recovery can be a year or more. It’s a long process.”

The surgery has slightly altered his outward appearance.

“I’ve been used to seeing myself a certain way my whole life, then suddenly everything is moved around. This is the hardest part for me. There’s a bit of a body dismorphia issue that happens when somebody has this surgery. I do look different! From the front, it’s not as drastic. It changed my nose…my everything! It takes some getting used to because my profile is so different. 

I’m still numb in the center of my face. They had to completely sever the nerves in my jaw to move them. I can’t feel my lips, chin, roof of my mouth, teeth, and gums. It feels like I’ve had Novocain 24 hours a day. My lips feel like they’re as big as this room.”

Always jovial, Fraley admitted that he cannot whistle, but he can pucker to give his wife, Angie, a kiss, “But I just can’t feel it!”

“It’s like a hurry up and wait process now. I’m at six and a half weeks from the surgery. This is the first week that I’ve felt normal mentally. I’ve been back to work for a week now. 

I’ve seen and felt the benefits. It’s going to be a long road, but it’s going to be so worth it. Just to be out of pain, to be able to breathe, to be able to bite my food normally. I feel great now.”

In another plus, the surgery eliminated his snoring.

The minister of music has just returned to his work, and Fraley will continue to pick, starting with his farewell to his band mates with Deeper Shade of Blue.

“I wanted time to heal and get a date set where everybody could do it,” he explained. He will perform the whole show. “We’ll do two sets with an intermission.”

Held in the Lee Park worship center, admission is free with no reserved seating. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. The show begins at 7:00 p.m.

Jason Fraley may be stepping down from DSOB, but he isn’t walking away from music. 

“I’ll still be around,” he concluded.

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About the Author

Sandy Hatley

Sandy Chrisco Hatley is a free lance writer for several NC newspapers and Bluegrass Unlimited magazine. As a teenager, she picked banjo with an all girl band called the Happy Hollow String Band. Today, she plays dobro with her husband's band, the Hatley Family.