Bumper Jacksons Come to Harrisburg October 23rd!

The Bumper Jacksons, a hot and sweet six-piece band that paints America’s story from New Orleans brothels to Appalachian hollers, comes to Harrisburg on Sunday, October 23, 2016, for a 7:30 p.m. Susquehanna Folk Music Society concert in the Abbey Bar at the Appalachian Brewing Company, 50 N. Cameron Street, Harrisburg.

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The Bumper Jacksons are playfully creative with their originals and re-imagined roots music with both power and tenderness. This is a sit-down concert in a listening-room environment.

Members of the Bumper Jacksons include Jess Eliot Myhre on clarinet, vocals, and washboard, Chris Ousley on guitar and vocals, Alex Lacquement on bass, Don Samuels on drums and suitcase percussion, Dave Hadley on pedal steel guitar and Joe Brotherton on trumpet.

Tickets are $24 General Admission, $20 for SFMS members and $10 for students ages 3-22. Advance tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets online or toll-free (800) 838-3006. For more information, visit the Susquehanna Folk Music Society website .

I had a chance to interview Jess Eliot Myhre about the band’s sound, origins and even where the band’s unusual name came from!

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FOLKMAMA: The Bumper Jacksons have such a great, fun, jazzy sound. I’d like to hear a little bit about how the band came to be.

JESS: Chris, the guitar player and I started the group almost exactly five years ago. We grew to become the sextet that we are today pretty organically and slowly over time. We’ve asked lots of musicians to sit in with us over the years, either at music festivals or at house parties around the DC/Baltimore area. Slowly over time the people that we really clicked with, both musically and personally, we’ve invited to become actual band mates.

There was never a grand vision at the beginning that we would be this roosty band with bass and drums and horns and pedal steel. They happened to be the people that we enjoyed playing with that added new textures and fun sounds and nuances to the songs that Chris and I were writing.

FOLKMAMA: It’s unusual to find a pedal steel guitar player in a jazz band. I imagine that this has really allowed you to broaden your sound.

JESS: One can find pedal steel guitar players that play in jazzier ways, but no, usually people would think of the pedal steel guitar to be in country music or Hawaiian music…or of course Western Swing music would be the most apt influence for us. Often these big Western Swing bands did a lot of the same repertoire as the early jazz bands.

FOLKMAMA: So where did the name of the band come from?

JESS: We’re actually named after a dog named Bumper. A lot of dogs do this–where the sound of certain instruments will get them to chorus with you, basically howl along. And Bumper was very drawn to my clarinet. And would just howl right a long and run right up and sit next to me. We named the group after Bumper and Jacksons was the name of the people who owned him.

FOLKMAMA: You are a fabulous singer and a great improv jazz clarinet player. How did you get your start?

JESS: I grew up singing in church and I didn’t really get serious about music until after I was already out of college and I moved to New Orleans. That was in 2010 and I really fell in love with the music that I was hearing and I had a couple of great informal teachers down there that would let me sit in with their band and gave me listening homework. So I really started diving into traditional forms of music.

I learned to play clarinet in the middle school band in the Florida public school system. Then I put it down for a long time. I owned a little plastic clarinet that was still at my folk’s house in Florida and so I after I graduated from college I called my mom up and asked her to ship it to me so that I could learn the New Orleans sound on it.

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FOLKMAMA: What singers do you like to listen to? Who are you most inspired by?

JESS: I really like a lot of female vocalists from the early jazz era. Ella Fitzgerald in particular is one of my favorites. Then also Lena Horn and Billy Holiday to a certain extent. Recently I’ve been getting into classic country female vocalists like Patsy Kline.

FOLKMAMA: Tell me where you get your repertoire from.

JESS: The majority of songs that one hears at a Bumper Jacksons show are either written by Chris or me. Most of it is original material. We mostly write separately although we have been experimenting over the last few months with being more collaborative.

FOLKMAMA: What should audiences expect when they come to one of your shows?

JESS: I would say in general that our shows are pretty high energy, “dancey” kinds of events, with some moments of intimate tenderness. We both like to really move people bodily, but also emotionally.

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The Abbey Bar is located upstairs at the Appalachian Brewing Company, 50 N. Cameron Street, Harrisburg.  The Concert begins at 7:30 PM.  Tickets are $24 General Admission, $20 FOR SFMS Members, and $10 for students.  Tickets are available at the door as well as through Brown Paper Tickets online or toll-free (800) 838-3006. For more information, visit the Susquehanna Folk Music Society website .

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