A few months ago, at the initial Barnaby's Backroad Barbeque in Rockingham, I finally had a chance to hear a band that was getting a lot of buzz - Jatoba. Concert organizer Josh Hearne had been bending my ear about the band for quite a while, and I respect Josh's musical opinions.
He was dead on about Jotoba. While the Barnaby's event wasn't exactly inside, you could say that Jotoba rocked the barbeque, and would have blown the doors off for sure, if there were any, and they did it with acoustic instruments - guitar, mandolin, banjo and bass.
Jatoba is made up of Jeff Richardson, double bass, Jason Scaggs, guitar, banjo and mandolin, and John Jamison, guitar, mandolin and sitar. They all sing, and harmony is a basic part of the Jatoba experience. As is the occasional Mohawk haircut.
Jatoba is a part of the music scene that music industry executives tend to hate, because it can be pigeonholed or easily categorized, and that musicians and listeners love - for the exact same reasons.
Referred to variously as roots music or alternative or indie or alt.country or alt.folk or newgrass, it's been around for quite a while and gaining new listeners all the time. The members of Jatoba are typical in that they've been open to dozens of musical influences - bluegrass, metal, jazz, pop, Classical, country, reggae, funk, folk, rock, blues, world music and more - and they've used those influences to shape their own unique sound.
That seems a common thread in Roots music - find what's good and authentic in any kind of music, not necessarily what's the most commercially popular, and build from that. As you'll see in the interview below, that's what Jatoba has done.
To see the band live, they will be playing at Stratton Village this Saturday, October 10 at noon, on October 15 at Flat Street Brewery in Brattleboro at 9 p.m., On Halloween, Saturday, October 31, they'll be playing Barnaby's Halloween Harvest Hoedown at 34 Meetinghouse Road in Rockingham.