John Reischman and the Jaybirds. Left to right: Trisha Gagnon

John Reischman and the Jaybirds. Left to right: Trisha Gagnon

Bluegrass birds will take flight at KCT

John Reischman and the Jaybirds play Cranbrook Oct. 18

  • Oct. 9, 2014 6:00 p.m.

An old friend is returning to Cranbrook next week. And as always, the music should be stellar.

John Reischman and the Jaybirds are playing Cranbrook’s Key City Theatre Saturday, Oct. 18. Reischman, one of the premier mandolinists playing today, and his renowned troupe the Jaybirds, provide an elegant but hard-driving bluegrass sound that blends the traditional and the progressive. And they love playing the Cranbrook-Kimberley area.

“It’s our favourite place to play — or at least one of the top three,” Reischman told the Townsman in an interview this week. “Early in our first days, that’s one of the first places we came to play, and we got a really warm reception. We’ve liked coming back ever since.”

Besides Reischman on mandolin, the Jaybirds are made up of Jim Nunally on guitar, Greg Spatz on fiddle, Trisha Gagnon on bass and Nick Hornbuckle on banjo. Together they cover a vast amount of territory, musically and geographically, with individual bases in Seattle, Spokane, California and British Columbia — an all-Cascadia line-up. Reischman says their far-flung nature is no obstacle to playing live together and taking on such “mini-tours” as they’re about to undertake (Nelson, Cranbrook and Calgary).

“We’ve always had this geographic challenge, from the very beginning,” Reischman said. “But it’s the right combination of people, so that the challenges are overcome by the fact that we feel comfortable playing music with each other, and being on the road together is very easy.

“It’s going on 15 years, and it still feels good and fresh whenever we get together.”

Fifteen years with the Jaybirds’ original line-up. Does one develop and intuition, or telepathy, with playing with the same people over a length of time?

“To a certain extent, you get used to what people are going to do, when you work up stuff, and you can do stuff spontaneously, without really having to say anything about it,” Reischman said. “Everyone’s really familiar with everyone else’s playing at this point. But I have to say that from the first time that combination got together, it felt comfortable, it felt good.”

Originally from northern California, Reischman knew and had played with Jim Nunally, and in fact got him in to play and co-produce Reischman’s solo album “Up in the Woods.”

“The band really started after I had moved to Canada,” Reischman said. “We started in 1999, in order to promote ‘Up in the Woods.’ I had met Nick Hornbuckle in Seattle, I really loved his playing, and he’s on that record.  And I was familiar with Trisha’s playing, from a band she had with her sister called Tumbleweed, and I ended up playing some casual gigs here and there with her and Chris Stevens, who’s a great B.C. based bluegrass musician.

“And then I knew Greg Spatz from when I lived in California as well. I never really set out to form a full-time band, but I wanted to promote that record, so I booked some shows with essentially the same band but without Jim. So after the band started going, Jim joined about a year later.”

The Jaybirds have been touring Europe and North America for years. They’ve released five acclaimed albums and been nominated for Juno and Canadian Folk Music Awards. When it comes to bluegrass, the Jaybirds present a mix of the firmly traditional and the original. This is much like the bluegrass genre itself, which though rooted in tradition, is also a product of experimentation and innovation.

“When Bill Monroe (credited with creating bluegrass in the 1940s) started, he was an innovator,” Reischman said. “He took traditional music but combined it into a new thing. It was radical compared to the typical old-time music you would hear at the time.

“So there are bands working to give a more progressive treatment to their sounds, and others who stick strictly to the way it was laid out by Flatt and Scruggs, Bill Monroe and the Stanley Brothers.

“I really love the traditional sound, but we — the band — are contributing our own take on it by our own originals. They’re not influenced by Rock and Roll so much, but they’re original and they’re new.”

Bass, guitar, fiddle, banjo and mandolin is the expressive instrumental bluegrass lineup. Reischsman’s own instrument provides scorching leads and driving rhythm.

“The mandolin is there because Bill Monroe was a mandolin player,” he said. “It’s a great lead instrument because it’s tuned like a fiddle so it play all the fiddle tunes very easily. Monroe really developed a whole rhythmic side to it — playing on beats two and four in four-four time, so the bass would play and one and three and the mandolin plays between those. That’s the essential rhythm of bluegrass — and the banjo adds to it with the eighth notes and the fiddle does.

“But the rhythmic drive that the mandolin can provide is really something. There are players like Sam Bush whose one of my favourite players — he’s developed it even more, to have more of a rock sensibility. It’s a great instrument, for bluegrass, obviously, but for other kinds of music.”

John Reischman and the Jaybirds play the Key City Theatre Saturday, Oct. 18. Showtime is at 7:30 p.m.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Interior Health reports 16 new COVID-19 cases

423 cases remain active in the region

Cranbrook city hall.
Curbside recycling collection program set for May debut

A residential curbside recycling collection program is expected to begin in Cranbrook… Continue reading

Cranbrook's Donald and Sharleen March won $75,000 in a scratch and win ticket, according to the BC Lottery Corporation.
Cranbrook couple wins $75,000 with scratch ticket

A Cranbrook couple is the recipient of a cool $75,000 from a… Continue reading

Images from yesteryear: The Cranbrook Girls Bugle Band, with Joyce Metcalfe standing second from left.
Remembering Joyce Metcalfe, and the Cranbrook Girls Bugle Band

Isn’t it amazing when by chance in this huge world of ours, meet outstanding people that greatly influence our lives? One such person was Joyce Metcalfe.

Pictured are Meredith Funston of Cranbrook Food Recovery (left), Shannon Grey Duncan of Kimberley Food Recovery (middle) and Wade Jarvis of Bohemian Spirits (right). The three have teamed up to divert bread from the landfill and turn it into ethanol, which is used to make hand sanitizer. (Corey Bullock file)
Cranbrook, Kimberley organizations team up to turn excess bread into ethanol

Local food recovery programs have teamed up with Bohemian Spirits to keep bread out of the landfill

Older rental apartments are prime candidates for renovations, and could result in lost affordable housing stock. (Zoë Ducklow photo)
B.C.’s renoviction overhaul a good start, but won’t preserve affordable stock, lawyer says

And still no protection for people who can’t pay rent due to COVID-19

(Photo by Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze)
B.C. WHL teams to hit the ice with Kelowna, Kamloops hub cities

Kelowna, Kamloops centres chosen to host B.C. WHL teams for 24-game regular season

The machines are akin to ATMs and allow drug users at risk of overdose to get hydromorphone pills dispensed to them after their palm has been scanned to identify its unique vein pattern. (CANADIAN PRESS)
Feds dole out $3.5M for ‘vending machines’ to dispense safer opioids in B.C.

The machines are located in four cities across Canada, including Vancouver and Victoria

Kelowna’s lakefront visitor centre is one of 130 around the province. Tourism businesses have been hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions on travel. (Destination B.C.)
Tourism, small business getting COVID-19 help, B.C. minister says

$300M grant program has delivered $50 million so far

(Black Press file photo)
Agassiz boy, 11, dies from ‘extensive injuries’: Homicide team

Agassiz RCMP were called out Friday to assist with a child in medical distress

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Most Read