Between takes of a video interview, Nationals righty Edwin Jackson seated himself behind a drum set on the Fan Cave's concert stage and banged out a familiar beat. He was soon joined by old friend and new Washington teammate Gio Gonzalez, who provided lead vocals along with a few nifty dance moves: "Girl, you really got me now. You got me so I ..."
The opening line and a half of The Kinks' "You Really Got Me" was all Gio could be convinced to perform, but Jackson's percussion skills were called upon later when he laid down the instrumental for a freestyle rap by Cave Dweller Gordon Mack. Fellow Dweller Ricardo Marquez riffed along on guitar for the trio, which was soon coined "Edwin Thunder Jackson" in homage to the nearby West Village watering hole, Thunder Jackson's.
Finding the 29-year-old righty with drumsticks in his hands should hardly be a surprise. Jackson traces his musical inspirations back to his church choir days, when he taught himself to play on a set in the empty choir room -- much to the chagrin of his mother and grandmother.
"It's just always been an infatuation with beating on something and making sounds and making music," Jackson said. "It's just a little side hobby to keep myself entertained."
Much like Mack with his rhyme game, Jackson said he does his best percussion work when "just freestyling off the top of my brain."
Gonzalez, who was acquired by the Nationals in a trade with Oakland on Dec. 23, has a musical background of his own. A's broadcaster Ray Fosse nicknamed the left-hander "The Motown Kid" several years ago in reference to his pre-start ritual of blasting the Temptations and Marvin Gaye over the locker room speakers.
Will Gonzalez keep the soulful vibes going now that he's entering a clubhouse full of new personalities in Washington?
"Once in a while, I'll throw it in there," he said. "But depending on how the team is this year, I don't know if they're going to like that kind of music. For me, I love that music. That's my heart and soul."
In any locker room music battle, Gonzalez can likely count on Jackson for backup. The southpaw said he only knew a few Nationals players when he was traded -- he played against Ian Desmond in high school -- and was excited to hear Jackson had inked a one-year deal to pitch in the nation's capital on Feb. 2.
"I called him and said 'You just made my day, bro.'" Gonzalez said. "When I heard Edwin was coming, I did backflips in my house.
Along with diverse musical stylings, the duo is expected to bring veteran stability to a rotation that boasts promising, but unproven youngsters Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann in front of fifth starter Ross Detwiler. Gonzalez allowed four earned runs over 3 2/3 innings in a no-decision against the Cubs on Saturday, and Jackson took the same result following five innings of three-run ball at Citi Field on Monday.
Ian Kay is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less