with Harmonica player Bob Beach
David Jacobs-Strain is a fierce slide guitar player, and a song poet from Oregon. He’s known for both his virtuosity and spirit of emotional abandon; his live show moves from humorous, subversive blues, to delicate balladry, and then swings back to swampy rock and roll. It’s a range that ties Jacobs-Strain to his own generation and to guitar-slinger troubadours like Robert Johnson and Jackson Browne. “I try to make art that you can dance to, but I love that darker place, where in my mind, Skip James, Nick Drake, and maybe Elliot Smith blur together.” His new album, “Geneseo,” speaks of open roads, longing hearts and flashbacks of Oregon– a record of emotions big and small, and lyrics that turn quickly from literal to figurative. “I’m fascinated by the way that rural blues inscribes movement and transience. The music that frees a singer keeps them on the run; there’s a crossroads where a thing can be enchanting but dangerous; damaging but beautiful.”
Jacobs-Strain began playing on street corners and at farmers markets as a teenager, and bought his first steel guitar with the quarters he saved up. Before he dropped out of Stanford to play full time, he had already appeared at festivals across the country, often billed as a blues prodigy, but he had to fight to avoid being a novelty act: “I wanted to tell new stories, it just wasn’t enough to relive the feelings in other people’s music.”
On Geneseo, old sounds become new, the blues takes an unexpected turn, and Jacobs-Strain moves further into his own territory. The gleaming, mercurial “Golden Gate” eddies and surges with glinting guitar strings: “I needed you like you needed me/ like a prisoner needs a broken key/ I never knew the secret behind your smile/ but I heard the scream behind your sigh.” When Dan Brantigan’s horn section–recorded in a NY city walk-up– roars in, the song leaps from confession to nightmare: “I dreamt a war with no end or retreat/ I cried out for more but there were none to defeat/ I clung to the shore as blood filled the street/ the devil tossed me an oar and cracked his canteen.” Jacobs-Strain recalls, “Late one night, in a stream-of-consciousness, I filled page after page with seemingly unrelated couplets. I had a lucky accident when I began to play the guitar–mistakenly in the wrong tuning– the slide riff fell right under my hand and the song came to life.”
“Raleigh” arcs gently, with the cadence of a Carolina railroad, bearing an understated pathos: “She says that love is made of diamonds/ I say it’s made of glass/ sharper than a winter morning/ tonight I have no words to get it back.” “I had the guitar part for months, but the meaning of the song came later. I tried to write it about somebody else– I’ve never been to Raleigh! But when I finished the lyrics–on a park bench in Wyoming– I looked at the page and thought ‘Dang!– that’s about me, isn’t it?’”
There’s an excitement about Geneseo that comes from having the record funded by fans: over two hundred people pitched in on Kickstarter to pay for the mixing and promotion: “This record is intentionally under the corporate music radar; I’ve been making music on my own since I was a kid– it’s the only thing I’ve ever fooled anyone into paying me to do! It feels very sweet to have people stand up and say that it means something to them.”
Saturday April 12 at 8:00 p.m.
". . .his albums are slow-burning wonders. . ." -- PopMatters
"He doesn't just rock out: he's learned the art of crossing musical boundaries from the masters." -- Dirty Linen
"His acoustic and electric guitar work is crisp and driven, and his voice can rise to a soulful pitch or fall quietly in sync with a loping beat. His imagery-rich tales"well, it's not hard to imagine some of them being covered by the likes of John Hammond Jr. . . . or Boz Scaggs. . ." -- Washington Post
"Still delightfully young, Jacobs-Strain has built a nationwide reputation for seamlessly intertwining blues and rock to create a sound that's uniquely his own." -- The Source Weekly
"David Jacobs-Strain sings and plays slide-driven country blues with a passion and authority that few artists of any age can muster. But besides firing off compelling covers of traditional tunes. . . his original songs have served to update and evolve the idiom, winning widespread respect from the contemporary blues community." -- Guitar Player
Smooth Hound Smith
Smooth Hound Smith is a foot stompin' folk-blues duo comprised of "One-Man-Band" Zack Smith (guitars, vocals, foot drums, banjo, harmonicas) and Caitlin Doyle (vocals/percussion). They record and perform a varied and unique style of folky, garage-infused rhythm & blues.
Using primal foot percussion, complex, fuzzed-out, finger-picked guitar patterns, warbled harmonicas, distorted vocals, and tasty harmonies, they are able to create something rugged and visceral- a modern interpretation of early blues, soul, and rock 'n' roll music that harkens back to the traditions of hazy front porch folk songs as well as raucous back-alley juke joints.
Tim Eriksen and the Trio de Pumpkintown
Tim Eriksen - voice, bajo sexto, fiddle, banjo, bowed banjo, guitar
Zoë Darrow - fiddle, voice Peter Irvine - hand percussion, glockenspiel, voice
Tim Eriksen is acclaimed for transforming American tradition with his startling interpretations of old ballads, love songs, shape-note gospel and dance tunes from New England and Southern Appalachia. He combines hair-raising vocals with inventive accompaniment on banjo, fiddle, guitar and bajo sexto - a twelve string Mexican acoustic bass - creating a distinctive hardcore Americana sound that ranges from the bare bones of solo unaccompanied singing on his album Soul of the January Hills (Appleseed 2010) through the stripped-down voice and bajo sexto Christmas album Star in the East (timeriksenmusic 2012) to the lush, multi-layered arrangements on Josh Billings Voyage, the new album of northern roots American music from the imaginary village of Pumpkintown (timeriksenmusic 2012).
The Trio de Pumpkintown celebrates the songs of a fictional New England village in fresh, acoustic arrangements. Much of their music comes from the 18th and 19th centuries: love songs, murder ballads, songs of travel on the high seas, rollicking Afro-Celtic sing-alongs, music of local francophone and Scottish communities and shape-note harmony including that of 18th century Native American composer Metacomet Samson. In addition to their traditional New England repertoire, the Trio also plays their own original music and, occasionally, songs by local P’town bands and music drawn from their contact with more recent immigrants to the area.
While The Trio’s own compositions have been praised as “strange and original works” (NetRhythmsUK) and “wicked awesome” (The Pumpkinville Daily Sewer), the band is also devoted to preserving other local music of the late twentieth and early twenty first centuries, and their performances sometimes include an acoustic cover version or two of songs by P’town bands like Weasel Stain (copcore), Crucifer (vegan doom) and Vaginasaur (anarcho-feminist postpop). Adding to their historical and original repertoire, The Trio de Pumpkintown sometimes draws on material gathered during the course of their collaborative research into minority musics in the region.
Saturday June 21 at 8:00 p.m.
Pumpkintown has been known regionally as a musical destination for nearly two hundred years, from renowned 19th century singer Josh Billings Sr. (“Black Josh) to the indie rock scene that popped up virtually overnight after an early 70’s gig by The Shaggs at the old meetinghouse. The Trio learned much of its traditional repertoire from their friend Silas Billings III, a font of traditional songs he learned from his great uncle Josh Billings Jr., who in turn learned them from his father. Silas, who also has a longstanding relationship to Sprigfield County’s indie scene, is just one of several local musicians to have made a guest appearance on the Trio de Pumpkintown’s pre-debut album Josh Billings Voyage: or Cosmopolite on the Cotton Road. The album is available online at timeriksen.bandcamp.com, at A.J. Hastings Newsdealer and Stationer in downtown Amherst, Massachusetts, and worldwide at various locations where the band has hidden copies in the woods.
"Eriksen connects the present and the ancient with an immediacy that will make your bones tremble" - > Pulse of the Twin Cities
"This is outstanding, powerful, exhilarating, controlled singing in anybody’s book." - fRoots, UK, by Vic Smith
"stark songs and breakneck picking" - New York Times
Time Sawyer is interested in “real people and real songs” and that’s just what the listener finds in their music – a sense of realness. TS blends a grassroots feel with heart-felt lyrics to put on a high energy entertaining show. Hailing from the rolling foothills of Elkin, North Carolina, the folk rock band honors its rural roots while also exploring the changes that time brings. Lead vocalist Sam Tayloe and lead guitarist Kurt Layell recorded an acoustic EP together in 2009, but the addition in 2010 of Houston Norris, on banjo, and Clay Stirewalt, on drums, allowed them to create a richer sound at their live performances and on their albums.
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