Since their formation some 15 years ago, the Portland, Oregon based band Jackstraw has released five albums and traveled the country performing their own brand of acoustic music. Now, with some personnel changes including brand new member Cory Goldman (formally of the Water Tower Bucket Boys) on banjo, and the recent release of their sixth album, Sunday Never Comes, Jackstraw is back at it again, touring throughout the Northwest.
Having formed after meeting one another at a music store in Portland, the band began when members Darrin Craig and David Pugh teamed up with Jon Neufeld and Jesse Withers to begin making music in 1997. A decade and a half later, they’ve racked up appearances at multiple well-known festivals (such as Wintergrass and the Kootenai River Bluegrass Fest) and performed on the same bill as artists like Del McCoury and Tim O’Brien. Their new album, which was financed entirely through online fundraising source Kickstarter, seems poised to bring them even more success.
The members of Jackstraw describe their sound as “northwest mountain music,” creating tunes somewhere between old-time Appalachian music and the up-and-coming, punk and honky-tonk influenced sounds of the Pacific Northwest. On Sunday Never Comes, they stay closest to the old-time side of things, with many songs sounding as if they were written specifically to appeal to fans of old-time music. However, they do utilize three-finger style bluegrass banjo, which adds an interesting aspect to the album. The majority of the songs on the album are band originals, with guitarist/vocalist Craig and mandolin player Pugh contributing the majority of the songs. Goldman penned one instrumental (Sunny Brae, a rousing banjo tune).
The album’s opening tune Come On Back To Me is a bouncy song with a wonderfully loose arrangement. Other numbers like May The Twain Ne’er Meet and If I Die seem more like straight ahead bluegrass style arrangements. Another side of the band is shown through the old-time melody played on Dark and Empty while the album’s title track Sunday Never Comes has a light hearted feel even though its lyrics warn “don’t sleep with drunken women, you should meet them in the church.”
Jackstraw is a band which has the potential to appeal to a wide audience, from fans of traditional bluegrass to those who prefer old-time or country, and having released six records to date proves their staying power within the northwest bluegrass scene.
For more information on the band or their new album, visit them online.