I’ve always known it. When “they” say things like “The business ain’t what it used to be”, I guess they are right. “It’s hard to get a record deal these days.” Yet the business goes on. More than enough of the new breed of “singer/songwriters”. (I’ve always had trouble with that phrase. You can’t do both at the same time. Try it. See?) David Jacobs-Strain jokes about it on stage when he recalls having finished singing a song at a club and having an audience member ask: “Is that a real song or something you made up?” (I wish I could use that line in my shows…oh well). Later in his show, Strain jokes about that and introduces his next song…”here’s a song I made up.”…
Strain (If I can call him that) is about as easygoing and friendly behind a microphone as any seasoned pro I’ve seen. He’s humble, upbeat without the sizzle. He’s genuine. Backing that up is a talent to extract some real emotion from his guitar – the one I witnessed at a recent concert was a beautifully crafted, unique looking (gotta see it to believe it) resonator guitar that answered every request his talented fingers made.
Strain: “It’s a Pogreba guitar, built by the man who built the cannon Hunter S. Thompson was shot out of…”
But make no mistake about the beauty of the guitar. David Jacobs-Strain has chops! Boy oh boy, can he play! Taj Mahal meets Mark Knopfler? A good comparison.
His voice – silk – intonation flawless. His songs? Each one a surprisingly unexpected delight.
The whole deal. A complete package. The show I saw was a personal visit from a new best friend who left everyone happy to have met him and hoping for a return visit.
The show I saw on Saturday night July 1 was staged at Julie’s Joint, a house concert hosted by John and Julie Zipperer. Zipperer’s “band” led the evening off with John’s usual collection of heartfelt, rhythmic, and uplifting music that got the loyal audience tapping their feet, daubing their eyes, and smiling. “Zip” (as his friends seem to refer to him) puts on a show with a bevy of talented friends (drums, Mark “Pocket” Goldberg on bass, Nick Kirgo on slide guitar, and a trio of backup singers. It’s a visit to the rhythm side with Zipperer leading the charge. Worth the price of admission all by themselves.
Enter the main act. David…humbly seated on a stool. Baseball cap. One man. One guitar.
Friendly conversation. Then he plays and weaves a spellbinding web of stories – a truck driver picks up a hitchhiker who leaves and disappears into the woods – and you’re hooked.
The concert consisted mostly of songs from David’s newest album, “David Jacob-Strain + Bob Beach – The Belfry Sessions” – The Belfry is a club in Sisters, Oregon where the album was recorded. Strain lives there with his wife and baby.
A word about the album presentation here. It’s David on vocals and guitar, and Beach plays soulful harmonica accompaniments to Strain’s intricate and poignant guitar. It’s hard to imagine the songs without the harmonica but the concert at Julie’s Joint was Strain alone and had you never heard the album, you wouldn’t have missed the harmonica. A testament to the artist’s ‘completeness’.
Strain’s current CD is interesting to look at and it reveals that his native humility is thorough. Surprisingly, the photo on the CD cover features a high definition face of his side man, Bob Beach. Strain’s face is off to the side – blurred and slightly behind the clearly defined face of Beach. When the trifold album is unfolded, Strain’s face is finally revealed in clear representation. Maybe I’m reading more into this than actually exists but I’d bet it’s Strain’s humbleness and willingness to give credit to a side player before he takes his own well-deserved bow.
A complete listing of recordings can be found here: https://davidjacobs-strain.bandcamp.com
So where does it leave us?
He’s worth the price of admission twice or three times over.
Some samples of what to expect from the artist’s website.
Afterthought: I can never report on a concert at Julie’s Joint without mentioning that the price of admission includes a meal of pulled pork, salads, treats, vegan choices, and desserts. Actually, the meal itself is worth the trip but I’d never say that. Not me. But if you’re hungry for talent and music and just plain hungry as well… I’m just sayin’…you know….
A house concert and a new CD