The sum total of my musical taste — from Roscoe Mitchell to James Carr to Patti Smith to The Oblivians — cries out in dissent at what I am about to say. Nevertheless (deep breath) I enjoy listening to The Jacob Jolliff Band. Dammit.
Here are some words frequently associated with Jolliff: newgrass, jam-band, man-bun, technical prowess. Any one of those is generally a red flag. (Yes, even technical prowess. I don’t care if you can play stuff that’s hard; I want you to play stuff I can feel.) So I was skeptical when I looked him up.
I started with some Yonder Mountain String Band videos because, though Jolliff was already King Mandolin within the circumscribed mandolin-fan community before joining YMSB in 2015, that’s where he really gained national attention. His playing there was impressive enough, but generally speaking the music didn’t move me. It took off in a bunch of different directions without really going anywhere I cared about.
Even then, though (and even being a person with no particular mandolin knowledge) it was clear that this guy has incredible talent. He’s generally regarded as one of, if not THE, finest mandolin players of his generation. And anyone can see that when they watch him play. Dude’s fingers just fly around that thing.
So I clicked around a bit more. Found Jolliff’s old band, Joy Kills Sorrow. Liked that more. Turned to his current eponymous band, the one playing The Seasons Performance Hall tonight. Liked that even more. And it’s not because he’s impressive or fast (though, like I said, he’s both), it’s because the songs are good.
I think you’ll like them, too.
Now, a note: This is likely to be the last Pick of the Week we do for a while. COVID is all the way back, and recommending events at which people congregate feels increasingly irresponsible. There were 54 people hospitalized with the virus in Yakima County on Wednesday morning. The Seasons has mask and social distancing policies. Follow them. And if you’re not feeling well, don’t go to the show. You can still livestream it.
If you go
What: The Jacob Jolliff Band
When: 7:30 p.m. today
Where: The Seasons Performance Hall
Tickets: $20 balcony or main floor, $60-$120 VIP tables, free livestream