When Jamey Ice and his bandmates in Green River Ordinance were traveling the country in a van and accompanying trailer, they ran into plenty of problems.
“Most of the problems we ran into involved vehicles,” he said.
One late night driving into the parking garage of a hotel, they got stuck, with the parking arm coming down between the van and the trailer.
“We called and tried to get them on the phone to help, but we were stuck, we were tired. We just wanted to get to sleep,” Ice recalled.
Eventually, the band came up with a solution of their own making. They got their guitar tools out, removed the parking arm and headed to their room for much-needed sleep.
Ice, 38, co-founder of 6th Ave. Homes and founder of 6th Ave. Storytelling, recalled that parking garage situation recently when discussing leadership.
“A lot of leadership is solving problems and the higher up you go, the more complex those problems are,” he said.
As co-founder of 6th Ave. Homes and founder of 6th Ave. Storytelling, Ice finds himself reaching for those figurative guitar tools fairly often.
Ice’s main office is on Bryan Avenue, within a three-mile radius of where he lives and where he grew up.
“I’ve traveled the world, but this is my three-mile-radius bubble,” he said.
He’s found success in disparate endeavors: rock ’n’ roll, real estate, development and marketing.
Success also came fairly early.
Green River Ordinance, named after an old sign in a place where the band rehearsed and in honor of its love of Creedence Clearwater Revival, began when Jamey and his brother, Geoff, began playing music together.
“The Ices, what can I say, we can barely put one foot in front of the other, so sports was out,” Ice said.
Instead, his parents gifted their two sons guitars. It turned out to be good parenting, Ice said.
“The right call,” he said.
The two brothers formed a band to play “Sweet Home Alabama” and ended up playing a talent show at McLean Middle School. They continued to play through high school at Paschal.
Ice’s entrepreneurial spirit began to shine when the underaged band tried to play at The Aardvark, a legendary music club on Berry Street near TCU, that, in a previous incarnation as The HOP, was visited by rock luminaries such as Bob Dylan.
Ice convinced the owners they would make money if they let Green River Ordinance play, even though they couldn’t sell liquor to the underage crowd.
“We played, they made money and they were very, very happy to have us,” Ice said.
Green River Ordinance recorded its first album in a church basement and was soon playing gigs every weekend.
In 2009, the band released its first major label debut, “Out of My Hands,” and had songs appearing in more than 20 television shows, including “The Hills,” “So You Think You Can Dance” and “Hart of Dixie.”
The band spent about two years on the road supporting the album. Ice had been in college, at TCU, studying philosophy, when they signed with Capitol Records. He was 18 hours short of graduating.
While Ice, the lead guitar player, wrote and co-wrote many songs, from day one he was always more involved on the management side of things than on the creative side.
“I did my part, but I really enjoyed the management side,” he said. “Even in high school, I was more involved in that side of things.”
It all looked like a rock ’n’ roll dream come true for the five guys from Fort Worth with a major record label deal, a business manager, a booking agent and songs receiving airplay.
Then, reality hit.
“A bunch of money went missing because we were not paying attention to it and, long story short, we cleaned house,” said Ice. “We fired our manager, our booking agent, or record label, our CPA, and I took over everything.”
Ice booked the whole tour.
“I’d never done booking stuff before,” he said.
His natural inclination toward business kicked in.
“I got way more passionate about contracts,” he said.
Ice acted as the record label and manager for the band.
“That part was fun for me,” he said.
While the band does get together from time to time, recently playing Tim Love’s new Tannahill’s Tavern & Music Hall, most of the band has other pursuits and most live in Nashville, far from Ice’s three-mile radius.
The lead singer, Josh Jenkins, has become a sought-after songwriter and was nominated for a Grammy for his song, “Fancy Like” and won a CMA award for his song “Buy Dirt,” in 2022.
“He’s a true writer’s writer,” said Ice.
Ice was more focused on Fort Worth. In 2012, with a few friends and partners, he opened Brewed, a gastropub/coffee shop on Magnolia Avenue’s east end, where development had been sparse. He and his wife, Melissa, also founded a nonprofit called The NET, that helps survivors of sexual exploitation.
Ice was in charge of marketing Brewed as it opened in 2012.
“I was like, ‘I’m going to try marketing this the way I marketed the band,’ which was very content heavy and social media, inviting people behind the scenes and into our story,” he said.
Brewed was a success, eventually opening a Dallas and Dallas Fort Worth International Airport location.
At the same time, the Ices moved into the Fairmount neighborhood (that three-mile- radius rule) and renovated a couple of old homes. In 2013, they bought an old house, renovated it and sold it. Then they did it again.
A friend from high school, Jimmy Williams, a police detective, suggested they try flipping some homes.
Ice found a foreclosure down the street and decided to buy it. They renovated it and sold it in 90 days.
“We bought six houses that summer and six houses turned into, between 2014 to 2018, we did probably 120 properties on the southside,” he said.
All along the way as they renovated the homes, Ice was posting to social media.
“I was basically saying, ‘Here’s our story, here’s the story of the house, here’s the old floors, here’s what we found.’ And I think most real estate companies or real estate agents are just like, ‘Here’s a house, buy a house,’” he said.
People responded to those stories, Ice said.
“Next thing we know people are calling us, saying, ‘Our agent doesn’t know anything about these old houses, can you help?’ – that sort of thing,” he said. “We were just flipping houses, but we had an epiphany that there was a need in the market for something different.”
Many homeowners, particularly millennials, wanted to buy a house and make it their own.
“They don’t want cookie-cutter,” Ice said.
Thus was born 6th Ave. Homes in 2016, which has now expanded beyond the Near Southside to other areas of Fort Worth and into Parker County with plans to expand farther around the state.
Co-founder Williams said buyers were frustrated by the renovation process and working with a dozen different companies.
“This problem isn’t unique to Fort Worth; it exists nationwide,” Williams said. “People need someone that gets them, their vision, and their budget. That’s why we created 6th Avenue homes.”
The company has grown to include 35 real estate agents, a brokerage, a construction company and four interior designers.
“Now we just help people find a house or renovate a house, or do renovations, or we do some new construction and things like that,” he said.
Around the same time, Ice got involved in commercial development on South Main, which was just getting off the ground.
“I marketed it the same way, lots of story-driven language and lots of social media,” he said.
He helped launch the event space, 4 Eleven, a restored 1920-era warehouse on South Main and leased several storefronts in that area to businesses such as the Dusty Biscuit and Emporium Pies.
Social media and marketing was a key component of all his ventures and several clients began asking for Ice to do their social media work for their businesses.
That led to 6th Ave. Storytelling in 2020.
“The mission of Sixth Avenue Storytelling is to support local and small business and to help entrepreneurs,” he said. “If I can take everything I’ve learned in my journey and make it easier and say, ‘Here’s a plan,’ I’ll do it,” he said.
It’s a business, but it is also key to the fabric of Fort Worth, Ice said.
“I think local and small businesses are what make a city interesting,” he said. “When you come to visit Fort Worth, you don’t want to go to a chain restaurant. You want to go see Joe T’s, you want to go to the Stockyards.”
The company has a wide variety of local clients, including Melt Ice Cream, Joe T. Garcia’s, Cantey Hanger and Village Homes.
They offer full-on agency work to consulting and coaching.
“For me, that’s really fun. I feel like I’m probably less of a musician or restaurateur or a real estate guy, I’m really good at crafting and telling a story,” Ice said.
He recalled that back in the early days of Green River Ordinance he felt as if he was inviting people into their story via social media.
“We didn’t have to sell anything. People felt like they knew us and trusted us,” he said.
The content shifted from “Look how cool we are,” to “Here’s what I’m eating for breakfast, here’s what we’re doing on the bus, here’s my dog,” Ice said.
“I’d show up in Minneapolis and someone would say, ‘Hey, how’s your dog, Oliver?’ And I’d never met that person, but they felt like they knew me,” he said. “If you’re a small business and you invite people into your story, then you don’t have to sell anything. They feel like they trust you and know you.”
Along the way on his journey, Ice has talked to plenty of entrepreneurs, 32 of them for 6th Ave. Storytelling’s podcast, Stories With Soul.
“There’s two ways to grow in life or to learn. It’s either trial and error, you make mistakes, you learn the hard way, or you get in proximity to people who have figured it out,” he said.
Ice said a lot of his success was a combination of the two.
“Just making dumb mistakes and learning from them, and some of it was I had a lot of people in Fort Worth that would let me have a seat at the table and would give me advice,” he said.
He decided to sit down with some of the people in Fort Worth and see what he could learn and share it with an audience.
“Selfishly, there were a lot of people I’d wanted to meet I’d never met before, so I was going to learn, too,” he said.
In 2019, 6th Ave. Homes was named Grand Forte Small Business of the Year by the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce and Ice has garnered several honors for entrepreneurship.
Ice chalks much of that success up to his faith, which he sees as like carrying a winning lottery ticket in his pocket.
Family: Wife, Melissa; daughters, Rosie, 7 and Justice, 4.
Education: Just short of a degree in philosophy from TCU.
First job: Lifeguard
Volunteer: The NET
What advice do you give people looking to be a leader?
“There’s an element of motivating people. You have to be able to motivate and empower and delegate and support people. I think that’s part of the check your ego thing at the door.
“I think leadership is also equivalent with solving problems. Generally in an organization, the bigger problems you solve, not even in an organization, just in life, the bigger problems you solve, the more you get paid, the more money you make, the higher you are in a position or in an organization. That’s why heart surgeons make a lot. That’s why the president of the United States is the most important. Leaders solve problems; they don’t point at problems. They don’t say, ‘Hey, there’s a problem.’ They solve them.”
And so one of the things I try to empower my team is that mistakes are opportunities to learn. Mistakes are good. That’s how you grow up, that’s how you learn, that’s how you get better. But in order to make those mistakes, you also have to tackle problems. I think empowering your leaders and your team to solve it, to get your hands dirty. And the same way, my journey, I just spouted off, “Here’s the things I’ve done.” There’s also a lot of really, really hard things and a lot of costly mistakes and a lot of just stuff that doesn’t go well. I think you can either let it defeat you and knock you down, or you can say, “It’s my job to do hard things and solve problems.” And it’s taken me a long time to get that, to learn that concept. Problems are good and it’s my job to solve them, it’s my job to teach my team how to solve them. That’s part of life. If you want to build something, you got to embrace it.
What’s the best advice someone gave you about being a leader?
I remember there was this band called Sister Hazel that was kind of a big ’90s rock band we toured with. And I’d always ask, ‘Hey, can you give me some advice?’ They were really generous with us. And I remember Ken Block, the singer from Sister Hazel, saying, ‘Check your ego at the door. You’re not a doctor, you’re not a school. There are people doing real stuff and you are entertaining. Check your ego at the door.’
There’s also a band called Need to Breathe that we used to tour with and I feel like I really learned to treat it as a business from watching them.
“I can’t mess it up if God loves me no matter what and I know the end is good,” he said. “That really freed me to take risks and chase my dreams and to fail and to not be afraid of failure.”
That has helped get Ice through some difficult times.
“I think it’s given me the freedom to say, ‘I’m going to chase this idea down,’ so to speak,” he said.
He also believes Fort Worth is a city that values collaboration over competition in many ways.
“I think being in a city that has people who have supported me, having a family that also supports me, that’s all been important,” he said.
Bob Francis is business editor for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.