The Bumper Jacksons bring a vast array of early American traditions to the Grass Valley Elks Lodge on Wednesday, March 20 as part of The Center for the Arts OnTheGo series.
Country swing, old-time blues, brassed-up bluegrass – these high-spirit wonders do and love it all. Powerhouse vocals are flanked by a dexterous pedal steel and a horn section, all supported by dynamic drums and bass.
Hard-swinging grooves and roadhouse drinking songs are valleyed by delicate waltzes of loss and regret. At the center of it all, is an invitation to join in – be it a rowdy dance, a moment of soulful intimacy, or a movement to make a better world.
The Bumper Jacksons have a steadily rising list of honors: Washington Area Music Awards Artist of the Year (2016), Best Folk Album (2014-2015), Best Folk Group (2014-2017); Strathmore Artists-in-Residence for 2015-2016; Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation Touring Artists for 2016-2017 and others.
This success blossomed from their simple beginnings in 2012 as a country-meets-city duet between Jess Eliot Myhre (clarinet, vocals, washboard) and Chris Ousley (acoustic & electric guitar, vocals, banjo) in the backyards, living rooms and front porches of DC and Baltimore. They crafted a sound built from their time exploring the smoky jazz clubs of New Orleans and old-time fiddler’s festivals throughout the southern Appalachians. From the beginning they focused on honest deliveries and energetic performances.
After Chris and Jess established the roots of the Bumper Jacksons’ sound, it quickly drew in the rest of the Bumper Jacksons members and matured into what you hear today. Dave Hadley (pedal steel), Alex Lacquement (upright bass, vocals), Dan Samuels (drum kit), and Joe Brotherton (trumpet) who masterfully amplify and diversify the tone, rhythm and power that defines the band’s core sound.
The success of the band’s last three albums – I’ve Never Met A Stranger (2017), Too Big World (2015) and Sweet Mama, Sweet Daddy Come In (2014)- demonstrate the ongoing refinement of their scrappy-yet-elegant, familiar-yet-reaching sound that explores a full spectrum of human emotion in its goal for the caramel core of Americana.
So whether it’s a packed house in a historic amphitheater or a fireside in the hills of the Appalachian mountains, the intimate ballads, growly blues, and fast paced two-steps will call you into another world that’s at once like home and the open road. It’s a truly Americana sound that grabs at your soul and connects you with over 150 years of human passion.
Content and photos submitted by Peter Wilson