David Jacobs-Strain and Bob Beach
avid Jacobs-Strain is a fierce slide guitar player and song poet, known both for his virtuosity and spirit of emotional abandon. Jacobs-Strain began playing on street corners and at farmers markets in his hometown of Eugene, Oregon, as a teenager, and bought his first steel guitar with the quarters he saved up. Before dropping 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 wasnt enough to relive the feelings in other peoples music. Since then, Jacobs-Strains ability to capture emotional intensity in a deeply personal way has made him a mainstay at festivals such as Strawberry, MerleFest, the Vancouver Folk Festival, and Telluride Blues. His guitar work, both thundering and shimmering, has landed him onstage alongside Taj Mahal, Bob Weir, Los Lobos, Etta James, and Del McCoury. Boz Scaggs chose him to open for two different summer tours. At David Grismans invitation Jacobs-Strain appeared alongside many of the nations great string players on the Tone Poets compilation.
Jacobs-Strains 2013 album, Geneseo, speaks of open roads, longing hearts and flashbacks of Oregona record of emotions big and small, and lyrics that turn quickly from literal to figurative. Im fascinated by the way that rural blues inscribes movement and transience. The music that frees a singer keeps them on the run; theres a crossroads where a thing can be enchanting but dangerous; damaging but beautiful.
Geneseo began as an experiment. Camped out in a converted 1820s church, Jacobs-Strain recorded guitar and vocals on a laptop, rarely using more than one microphone. It was winter in rural upstate New York. We had very little daylight but endless old instruments to try: a swap-meet banjo on one song, on another, the Conn Electric Bandan orphaned keyboard from the 60s which seemed to sound best only on Tuesdays. A road trip to Los Angeles brought in Scott Seiver (Pete Yorn, Flight of the Concords) on drums, and, after a chance meeting in a Hollywood bar, Jon Flaughers (Ryan Adams) on bass and David Immergluck (Counting Crows) on pedal steel. I had all the songs written but I didnt have a budget or a plan. I couldnt stand waiting, so we just started recording ad hoc. Caitlin Carey of Whiskey Town sent harmonies and fiddle tracks by email, Band of Horses Bill Reynolds Dropboxed a track for the impressionist blues Josephine, and long-time collaborator Bob Beach recorded harmonica solos in Philadelphia. By spring, the record was an overwhelming collage of sounds and parts. To pair the record back to its organic core, David enlisted two Oregon engineers, Beau Sorenson (Death Cab for Cutie) and Billy Barnett (Frank Black, Cherry Popping Daddies): Everything that would fit on twenty-three tracks was moved to analog tape, then we turned off the computer screen and mixed as if it was forty years ago.
Theres an excitement about Geneseo that came from having the record funded by fans: more than two hundred people pitched in on Kickstarter to pay for the mixing and promotion: This record is intentionally under the corporate music radar; Ive been making music on my own since I was a kid its the only thing Ive 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.
David Jacobs-Strain has appeared at festivals from British Columbia to Australia, including Newport Folk Festival, Philadelphia Folk Festival, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, Bumbershoot, and Blues to Bop in Switzerland. Hes taught at Jorma Kaukonens Fur Peace Ranch, and at fifteen years old was on the faculty at Centrums Blues and Heritage workshop. On the road, hes shared the stage with Lucinda Williams, the Doobie Brothers, George Thorogood, Robert Earle Keen, Todd Snider, Janis Ian, Tommy Emmanuel, and T-Bone Burnett.
Chenango Craftsman Houseconcert (View)
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