Whether telling the haunting stories of a past generation or speaking of late night, whiskey tinged knife fights, the Jackdaw's 7 present with a vintage swagger that's rare to find. They play with a seasoned ease that comes with years of combined dedication. Their works invoke images of small country church youth spent in the innocence of the mystifying hills of East Tennessee. They come from the pioneering bloodlines that settled these wild back-country hills so long ago and their songs buzz with that same fierce independent spirit. Pulling from the musical heritage that surrounds their hometown of Bristol, they have made their sound homage to those righteous voices that birthed the genre in distant 1927. Jackdaw's 7, presenting classic country music through multi-harmonious vocals, traditional bluegrass instruments paired with classic country interpretation. Sad mournful songs to make Hank smile and tender love songs that would make Buddy Holly cry.
'Country is Back in Bristol' via Jackdaw's 7
By Tom Netherland, special to the Herald Courier
BLUFF CITY, Tenn. — In a garage well off a darkened Bluff City, Tennessee, road, a country band plugged in and played on Monday night.
“We’re Jackdaw’s 7,” said Scott Thomas, the band’s drummer.
Hear their twangy bend of guitar strings and songs of substance when Jack-daw’s 7 sidle up to Johnson City’s Capone’s on Friday, May 26. Make some room for Double Wide Inc. Clear a space in the watering hole as country comes to town.
“It’s an authentic sound from home,” said Ben Adams, bass guitarist in Jackdaw’s 7.
Eclipsed titles of original odes to home and heart, broken and mended and otherwise filled a whiteboard along a wall inside the garage. Titles listed include “Shelby Street Blues” and “Memories of You.”
“I grew up playing bluegrass with my dad and granddad. Bobby Love is my dad and Gene Boyd was my granddad,” said Kevin Love, Jackdaw’s banjo picker and rhythm guitarist. “This band is definitely not bluegrass and it’s definitely not rock ‘n’ roll.”
Singer and fiddler Julia Wilson ambled in. Moments later, Jackdaw’s 7 sans singer Jen Fields assembled for a two-song jamboree.
“Ready?” Love said.
Nods of heads and Thomas’ snare responded. They summoned a country storm via “Tennessee Weather.” Lead guitarist JP Parsons bent the strings aplenty on a Gibson Les Paul amid the three-minute jaunt while visions of neon flash and honky-tonk heroes arose from the twangy notes.
“This band, it’s a godsend to me,” Adams said.
Rhythm guitarist and vocalist Jason Wilson hatched the band in October of 2014.
“My wife and I were watching the CMA Awards,” said Wilson.
They were not impressed. Authentic country music proved woefully absent.
“I came up with eight titles for songs while watching the show,” Wilson said. “One of them was ‘Mama Always Told Me I was Gonna Be a Country Radio Star.’”
A band was born. Wilson gradually courted folks, including Love in early 2015, to join Jackdaw’s 7.
“I’m proud of this band,” Love said. “I’m proud of the songs that we’ve written. We put our flavor to them.”
In no particular order Julia Wilson (unrelated to Jason), Jen Fields, Ben Adams, Kris McCrady, and Scott Thomas filled the ranks. McCrady, a member of Bristol’s Farmhouse Ghost, left several months ago. Bristol’s JP Parsons re-placed him.
“I wanted to play country music on electric guitar and wear cool shirts,” said Parsons. “Jason sent me this album (which is due for release in June). I listened to it, put it on repeat at work.”
Parsons heard the essence of what makes country music country.
“It’s the stories,” Parsons said. “There’s a theme in all of them. I lis-tened to them and thought, ‘Damn, I wish I had written that.”
Sold. From down many a country road ambles the intent and output of Jack-daw’s 7. Bear in mind, they’re not Wynn Stewart or Webb Pierce hardcore blood-cutting country re-imagined. They’re neither Buck Owens nor the Buckaroos. However…
“If you’ve never heard us,” said Julia Wilson, fiddler and singer in the band, “then we’re the best thing you’ve never heard.”
Indeed, Jackdaw’s 7 tip a hat to and incorporate that which they can from country’s halcyon days of considerable yore. Translated, don’t come around looking to hear Florida Georgia Line recreated.
“What this band means,” Thomas said, “my mother likes this band, and she’s a tough critic.”
Parsons placed an arm around the shoulder of Thomas. The longtime friends echoed a thought shared for many a year.
“There needs to be more authentic country music here,” Parsons said.
Fashioned like a restrained rhinestone suit, Jackdaw’s 7 shine as today’s most authentically country band amid the banner of the Birthplace of Country Music. Spread wide the gates, Bristol, for here comes a taste of twang.
“Country is back in Bristol,” Love said.