MUSIC BOX: Rendezvous Revelry
Samantha Fish & Jamestown Revival on Town Square, Zac Brown & Iration at the Village.
JACKSON HOLE, WY – A truly remarkable snow season in Jackson Hole leads us to March Radness, the 2017 Jackson Hole Rendezvous Spring Festival. While it may seem like Groundhog Day to many locals with three-time Grammy winners Zac Brown Band as the controversial repeat headliner, there’s enough talent in town this week to find your scene. Three special outdoor stages built under the tram, in Teton Village lot, and on Town Square are where the festival action will be concentrated, with club and theater shows to boot.
Blues ripper Samantha Fish and Americana/pop-rockers Jamestown Revival on the Town Square Stage this Friday are setting up to be the local’s stash. Within six months of forming Jamestown Revival’s songwriter/bandleader pair, Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance were featured in Rolling Stone for the magazine’s cover contest. Clay and Chance’s harmonic chemistry cannot be taught, and that blend is the characteristic that makes their back porch folk-inspired rock sound so sweet and inviting. The duo plays keys and guitars, travelling as a five-piece band with bass, drums and electric guitar. They will be supporting their late 2016 album The Education of a Wondering Man.
Taking its name from acclaimed Western novelist Louis L’Amour’s memoir, the album has climbed to No. 12 on the Americana Music Chart. The set is catchy Western soul-pop, good stuff.
As for Friday headliner Fish, a newcomer to Jackson Hole, a straight-up blues-rock power trio is her game, and she brings it home with tenacity. A Kansas City native, Fish spent much of her teen years playing drums and sneaking into watering holes to study the blues, eventually switching to guitar and never looking back. She’s done her homework from source legends Son House, Skip James, and especially the hill country tradition a la R.L. Burnside. That passion led her to working with Luther Dickenson of North Mississippi Allstars, who produced her 2015 release, Wild Heart.
This Friday she releases a fourth album, Chills & Fever, which is a smattering of classics and should-have-been hit songs from the 60s/70s that were recorded with Midwest punk/blues band The Detroit Cobras. But this new foray into rocking R&B with a bigger band including horns and keys will not likely be the focus of this trio set. It came as a surprise to Fish that she’d be performing outside, so she’s got other things on her mind.
“It’s outside? Oh, damn, no, I’ve never done that (laughs),” Fish told PJH. “So how does that work? I’m curious now. Do they have heat lamps on stage? Should I brink a giant coat?”
Adrenaline alone will keep her warm. Fish plays a lot of slide, often times on a four-string cigar box guitar tuned to open G, and it is gritty goodness. During our conversation, she noted Keith Richards (who redefined open G tuning), Johnny Winter, Bonnie Raitt, Derek Trucks and Elmore James as influences on her slide playing.
“I have a love hate relationship with that thing [cigar box guitar],” Fish said. “It’s such a goofy little guitar but I love the way it sounds. I’ve had a bunch of them made for me but still like the sound of the first one that I bought. It has such a killer, deep, guttural sound.”
Even for legends of the genre like Buddy Guy, a career in the blues can be a tough career path. For Fish, the raw, unfettered sound of the blues has been a calling for the 28-year-old, and there’s always another stepping stone to reach.
“To be able to come up with anything new or unique is really hard. Every song has been written. Every chord has been played,” Fish said. “I landed on the trio format out of necessity and I wasn’t a very good guitar player back then. Since I couldn’t afford another guitar player, I just figured that I needed to get better. It took a long time. And now I see myself touring and recording for as long as I can. I’d love to venture out in the business side of the music industry and help people start their careers.” Rendezvous Fest presents Samantha Fish with Jamestown Revival, 5 p.m. Friday, March 17 on Town Square, free. For more about transportation options and concert logistics, visit JacksonHole.com.
Saturday’s show in Teton Village will draw a huge crowd from the region. In case you missed it last year, the eight-piece Zac Brown Band is a country industry juggernaut, venturing well outside that scope with surprise material such as Metallica and Queen. Iration, a reggae-influenced alt-rock band that is Hawaiian-bred and Santa Barbara-grown, will open the show. Two of the band’s albums peaked at No. 1 on Billboard’s Reggae Albums Chart and Iration is currently supporting its first acoustic album of previously recorded material. Zac Brown Band with Iration, 6:30 p.m. Saturday, March 18 in Teton Village. $40. JacksonHole.com.
Downtown will be hopping this week. The unofficial kick-off to Rendezvous will be this Thursday featuring a rapid fire bluegrass bill of Yonder Mountain String Band with The Lil’ Smokies at the Pink Garter Theatre. Yonder has a big following in the Hole, though it’s The Lil’ Smokies that may steal the show.
And if you have anything left in the tank after the weekend, don’t miss The Infamous Stringdusters with The Ghost of Paul Revere at the Pink Garter on Tuesday. Again, the Stringdusters are popular for good reason and a household name, but don’t sleep on another quality opener in The Ghost of Paul Revere, digging into foot-stompin’ holler-folk that brings to mind Old Crow Medicine Show.
A smattering of St. Patty’s Day events should also be on your radar this Friday—Sneaky Pete at Town Square Tavern, Slip n’ the Jigs at the Silver Dollar, Snake River Brew Pub.
Crush the slush! PJH
Aaron Davis is a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, member of Screen Door Porch and Boondocks, audio engineer at Three Hearted Studio, founder/host of Songwriter’s Alley, and co-founder of The WYOmericana Caravan.
Vinyl Night (The Rose)
Yonder Mountain String Band with The Lil’ Smokies (Pink Garter)
Jamestown Revival & Samantha Fish (Rendezvous on Town Square), Slip n’ the Jigs (Silver Dollar), Miller Sisters & Friends (Mangy Moose), Sneaky Pete & the Secret Weapons (Town Square Tavern)
Zac Brown Band with Iration (Rendezvous in Teton Village lot), Slip n’ the Jigs (Silver Dollar), The Hooligans (Trap Bar)
Chanman Roots Band (Under the Tram), DJ VerT-OnE (Casper Restaurant), The Grant Farm (Town Square Tavern)
JH Hootenanny (Dornan’s)
The Infamous Stringdusters with The Ghost of Paul Revere (Pink Garter)