I had not heard the Jaywalkers before Sunday afternoon’s concert. Their web page states that the band takes influence from folk, bluegrass, country and western swing in the form of virtuosic instrumentals three part harmonies and impressive slap bass. The music Jaywalkers create is innovative, rooted deeply in tradition and exhilarating. From the off the band more than lived up to their web page description.
Traditional and well known songs “Wayfaring stranger” and “Your cheatin’ heart” were given fresh settings. Jay Bradberry’s vocals delivering a wonderful mix of vocal styles, soulful, bluesy, country inflections were all there. Her voice brought to mind various other singers: Eddi Reader, Melody Walker and Rhiannon Giddings. Then add in her great fiddle playing from Old time to swing and solid guitar accompaniment it became clear that a treat was in store.
The playing of Michael Givern on his Czech built Kristufek mandolin was a delight. The difficulty of mandolin amplification is a constant rainbow chase for players of this instrument. Michael’s setup was as close to the truth as I have heard. Couple this obvious care and attention with impeccable technique it was clear this was special. (as demonstrated on the aptly titled “Brilliancy”, “Big Siota”, his instrumental breaks within the songs and Brazilian tune “Nao Me Toques” (Trans. Do not touch me). He is one of the most exhilarating mandolin players I have had the luck to witness. Swapping to guitar and adding harmonies along with his self penned compositions added to variety and underlined his talent.
Lucy Williams on Double Bass, harmony vocals and material selection (she was credited with encouraging the band to cover Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love)” demonstrated the fun and obvious joy the Jaywalkers bring to performances. The sound that she produced on the double bass added and made it clear why musicians persist with all the obvious difficulties of transporting such a large unwieldy instrument. In the right hands (which it was) Lucy and her bass added much to the band’s overall sound. Her slap bass passages were a particular treat.
The second half of the concert was hugely enjoyable. I had bought three CDs during the interval, I don’t do that very often. Enough said.