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Vermont band Jatoba stays true to its roots

BRATTLEBORO, Vt. - The roots of Jatoba run deep.

The acoustic trio - consisting of Jeff Richardson on the double bass; Jason Scaggs on guitar, baritone guitar and banjo; and John Jamison on guitar, mandolin and sitar - formed in 2008 after a band Scaggs and Jamison were in broke up, said Jamison.

"Jason and I continued playing as a duo for about six months when we realized that adding an upright bass would work really well with what we were doing," he said.

The two had been tossing around the idea of asking Richardson to join, so, they eventually did.

"Thus Jatoba was formed," said Jamison.

The band's name stands for "a super old Brazilian hardwood tree with deep running roots," explained Scaggs.

"John and I have been playing music together for over a decade and when we came across the name we felt it had meaning," he said. "It's a good obscure name to answer the origin of the name many times over as well."

The band's sound today consists largely of a "fast bluegrass beat," said Richardson, though the three integrate several other musical aspects into their music. However, in the early days of Jatoba, they weren't playing bluegrass at all, with the instrumentation of the band responsible for leading them down that road "pretty quickly," he added.

"Improvisation dominates our live shows, which makes it even more fun for us to play," said Richardson, who plays "an aggressive slap/rockabilly style of bass."

That, combined with "extremely rhythmic" guitar playing and beat-boxing by Scaggs and Jamison's "unconventional" effects on his guitar - and all three on vocals - gives Jatoba its unique sound, he added.

"I think our unique sound comes from the fact that each individual of the band is able to bring their influences to the table," said Jamison. "We all come from drastically different musical backgrounds, yet we have a lot in common as well. And, we are able to find the balance of all these influences within our own musical expressions."

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