|“The show at the Fur Peace Station last night was simply outstanding. David Jacobs-Strain opened with a spectacular set. A thoroughly modern young musician while still being totally at home with the tradition and idiom, his performance was stellar! Add to this his marvelous voice and there you have the new guard coming on strong.” –Jorma Kaukonen, Online Diary, August 27, 2006
David Jacobs-Strain, a consummate finger-style and slide guitarist, plays in the blues tradition but isn’t from it. You’ll hear echoes of Skip James, Charlie Patton, Tommy Johnson, and a song or two by Fred McDowell or Robert Johnson in his solo performances. But as a modern roots musician, singer, and songwriter, I come from the language of the country blues, but it’s important not to silence other influences,” he says.
Upon listening to Jacobs-Strain’s latest CD, Liar’s Day, you can imagine him inviting his touchstone, American bluesman Taj Mahal, on a musical walkabout. You can imagine them conferring with Salif Keita, Afro-pop songster of Mali; and conversing with Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Indian slide guitarist; and even conjuring the spirit of John Lennon while tramping in the Siskiyou Mountains of Oregon. The traces of these musical excursions interweave with the fat sounds of a rock rhythm section. The results cohere into a genre-defying journal of Jacobs-Strain’s pursuit to honor both the roots of American country blues and the possibilities that can grow from them.
“For me, there’s something about rural blues that has a transcendent quality, a wide open sound. Think of the rhythm of a train. There’s a cross between spiritual and secular music in Fred McDowell. Compared to commercial electric blues, the Delta blues are more interesting modally and have a spiritual depth to them. You can also hear anger, humor, and empathy. I m going after the texture, the tone and feel of that,” David says.
“I’ve always been drawn to the trance-oriented, heavier, Delta blues to the driving, passionate, raw, distraught sound of somebody like Son House,” he says. “When you’re in the flow of the music, there’s an ecstasy to it. Of course, when I was 12, I thought I knew what Robert Johnson’s Come on into My Kitchen was all about.” Over the years, Jacobs-Strain has refined his youthful expression of raw energy, passion, and technique into powerful, nuanced performances.
For the past three years, the 24-year old Jacobs-Strain has been touring the country to share his musical explorations with diverse audiences. s been billed with T-Bone Burnett and Bob Weir, and has opened for acts such as Los Lobos, Lucinda Williams, Taj Mahal, Etta James, Boz Scaggs, and the Blind Boys of Alabama. By the time he was 19, he had played at the Philadelphia Folk Festival and MerleFest. His other festival credits include the Strawberry Music Festival, the Newport Folk Festival, the Telluride Blues Fest, the Vancouver Folk Festival, the Montreal Jazz Festival, and the Lugano Blues to Bop Festival in Switzerland. He s also served as faculty at guitar workshops, most notably at Jorma Kaukonen’s Fur Peace Ranch.