Bluegrass band John Reischman (centre) and the Jaybirds (from left Nick Hornbuckle, Patrick Sauber, Trisha Gagnon and Greg Spatz) are performing at the Nanoose Library Centre Thursday, Nov. 30. — Submitted by Donna Konsorado

John Reischman and the Jaybirds flying into Nanoose Bay

Bluegrass with just a hint of blues in album released mid 2017

Musicians coming from points all over the West Coast are headed to Nanoose Bay. They come bearing banjo, mandolin, guitar and fiddle.

The bluegrass band John Reischman and the Jaybirds is made up of five musicians with American and Canadian roots, formed around mandolin player John Reischman.

Arriving just a handful of months after their latest album, On That Other Green Shore, Reischman said he and the band are excited to bring a new selection of original music and bluegrass-styled covers hewed from the minds of the band, friends and family.

They’ll be playing at the Nanoose Library Centre on Thursday, Nov. 30.

Band leader Reischman picked up the guitar at the age of 12 in the U.S, intrigued by Chicago blues and San Francisco rock. “But I was also drawn to the folk music I heard,” he said.

“I’d see television shows on the local PBS channel and they’d feature bluegrass bands from time to time, so I thought that was pretty intriguing music, and I noticed they had a mandolin. And a family friend loaned me a mandolin, and I just kind of took it from there and taught myself how to play.”

The band formed after Reischman released an album in 1999 called Up In the Woods, and decided to play some shows.

“I put together a band to play those shows based on some of the people who had played on the record and others who were just good musicians who I knew,” said Reischman.

“It seemed like a good mix, and four of the five people I got for those first initial shows back then are still band members.”

In the past year, guitarist Jim Nunally left, and Patrick Sauber of L.A. stepped in.

On That Other Green Shore, released in May, still features Nunally, but also introduces Sauber on both vocals and guitar.

The album draws on inspiration and creations from the various band members, with each contributing work that fits with the band’s aesthetic, whether instrumental or vocal.

That collaborative approach has been typical of the band for many years, said Reischman, who functions as the keeper of the band’s core sound.

While Reischman said he’s known to veto a song or two if he doesn’t think it fits, sometimes he’s convinced otherwise, like in the case of the band’s cover of a lesser-known Beatles song, Two Of Us.

Suggested by Butch Baldassari, a friend of the band who has since died, the song is a bit of a departure, said Reischman, who added he’s not too fond of putting a bluegrass spin on pop songs.

“There was a benefit recording for him to help with (Baldassari’s) medical expenses and the producer asked me to contribute something, so I thought, well that’s a perfect one, because it was his idea,” said Reischman.

That formed the basis for the version of Two Of Us that appears on the On That Other Green Shore album. Reischman said the record continues with the band’s high level of production, with a sound that represents its live shows, but with a hint of a bluesier tone than usual.

John Reischman and the Jaybirds perform at the Nanoose Library Centre at 2489 Nanoose Rd. on Nov. 30 with doors opening at 6:45 p.m. Tickets are $25 at Cranky Dog Music at 154 Morrison Ave. in Parksville or at Arbutus Music at 6324 Metral Dr. in Nanaimo.

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