Smokestack Lightnin' Home Page -- The Blues Profile Page

A consummate finger-style and slide guitarist / singer brings an old-school sensibility to a new generation of
blues and roots rock in his sixth album. Genre: Acoustic Blues/Roots Rock

David Jacobs-StrainDavid Jacobs-Strain plays in the blues tradition but isn't from it. You'll hear echoes of Skip James, Charlie Patton, Tommy Johnson, and a song 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; 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 Jacob-Strain's pursuit to honor both the roots of American country blues and the possibilities that grow from them.

Liar's Day was produced by his mentor and collaborator, Kenny Passarelli (Otis Taylor, Stephen Stills), who's also featured on the bass. They're joined by Joe Vitale on drums. "I wanted a big, aggressive drum sound” a Neil Young or Tom Petty sound that still allowed space for the Traugott acoustic and National steel guitars. I got it by working with Joe and Kenny, Joe Walsh's rhythm section in the '70s."

He grew up in Eugene, Oregon, in a community that was centered on cultural change and environmentalism. He sees a distinct connection between the principles embodied in his upbringing and the democracy of the blues. "I'm really into hand-made culture — and real people making real music. The voice. One guitar. Even at their simplest, the blues have always been a vehicle for expressing your own situation, whether as an individual or a community. There's such power in that."

At twenty-five, Jacobs-Strain is a veteran of the national club and festival circuit. In 2008 he was chosen by Boz Scaggs to be the opener for his tour. Jacobs-Strain has also shared the stage with T-Bone Burnett, Bob Weir, Los Lobos, Lucinda Williams, Taj Mahal, Etta James, Dave Mason, and the Blind Boys Of Alabama. His festival credits include the Strawberry Music Festival, MerleFest, the Lugano Blues to Bop Festival in Switzerland, the Newport Folk Festival, the Telluride Blues Fest, the Vancouver Folk Festival, and the Montreal Jazz Festival. He's also served as faculty at guitar workshops, most notably at Jorma Kaukonen's Fur Peace Ranch.

"His acoustic and electric guitar work is crisp and driven, and his voice can rise to a soulful pitch or fall quietly in sync with a loping beat. His imagery-rich tales well, it's not hard to imagine some of them being covered by the likes of John Hammond Jr. . . . or Boz Scaggs. . ."  --  Washington Post

". . .his albums are slow-burning wonders. . ."  --  PopMatters

"He doesn't just rock out: he's learned the art of crossing musical boundaries from the masters."  --  Dirty Linen

"David Jacobs-Strain sings and plays slide-driven country blues with a passion and authority that few artists of any age can muster. But besides firing off compelling covers of traditional tunes. . . his original songs have
served to update and evolve the idiom, winning widespread respect from the contemporary blues community." -- Guitar Player

"Still delightfully young, Jacobs-Strain has built a nationwide reputation for seamlessly intertwining blues and rock to create a sound that's uniquely his own."  -- The Source Weekly


Brenda Prescott
Brenda Prescott Coordinates LLC
955 Masschusetts Ave #317
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McShane Glover
Noteworthy Productions
124 1/2 Archwood Ave
Annapolis, MD 21401-3443