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Bumper Jacksons’ “Too Big World” album release at Shepherdstown Opera House

By Staff | Jul 17, 2015

Driving the traditions forward, the Bumper Jacksons are at it again with their new album ‘Too Big World’. It is set to be released with a show at The Opera House on Friday, July 24. Like an old time barn dance in downtown New Orleans, the Bumper Jacksons pull together a vast array of early American traditions into an uplifting, cohesive sound that strikes you right in the heart and gets your feet jumping. ‘Too Big World’ marks the next step in the group’s unique artistic process.

The Bumper Jacksons began humbly as a passionately driven project by the band’s two songwriters, Jess Eliot Myhre and Chris Ousley, who shared a common love for the old sounds. Jess, a New Orleans-inspired clarinetist and vocalist, traded tunes and dance moves with the biblically-bearded Chris, an old time banjo player and guitarist. The Bumper Jacksons started as an experiment in pushing the sonic limits of country two-steps and waltzes but that doesn’t capture the breadth of raw human emotion that the band has been able to evoke with their craft.

With the release of their last album, ‘Sweet Mama, Sweet Daddy, Come In’ in 2014, the Bumper Jacksons grew into a powerhouse sextet and proved their mettle as a band that could fill up a dance floor and break hearts in the same set. That album also earned them the honors of ‘Best Traditional/Folk Band’ and ‘Best Traditional/Folk Album’ by the 2013 and 2014 Washington Area Music Awards.

‘Too Big World’ dives deeper into the traditions they draw from, as well as into the souls of the songwriters Jess and Chris. They’ve raised the ceiling on the energy they can dish out with songs like ‘Watch It Skinny Woman’ and ‘I’ve Got My Whiskey’. Likewise, they’ve found more ethereal vulnerability in such songs as ‘Adventure Story’ or ‘I Learned I Was Wrong’ the latter being a return to the group’s early days as a stripped-down duo.

The Bumper Jacksons are not just the songwriters Jess and Chris, but include an amazingly talented group of gents. A rock solid rhythm section (Alex Lacquement – upright bass, Dan Cohan – The Suitcase, Chris Ousley – guitar, tenor banjo, Dan Samuels – Kit Drum) drives a strikingly dynamic pedal steel (Dave Hadley) and a rocking horn section (Jess Eliot Myhre – clarinet, Brian Priebe – trombone). The combination of these elements sets the stage for the shining star of this sonic landscape: Jess’s roaring vocals that instantly pull the ear back to a 1920’s bar room, turning on a dime from soft and tender to ferocious.

The performance is Friday, July 24 at the Shepherdstown Opera House. Tickets are just $10 for the 9 p.m. performance. They can be purchased at www.vendini.com/ticket-software.html.