Known for his work with Yonder Mountain String Band, Jacob Jolliff is perhaps one of the most talented mandolin players to come out of the states in the past decade. Thanks to the Ashland Folk Collective, Jacob Jolliff and his band graced the stage at the Unitarian Church on Friday night. Opening for Jolliff was Ashland’s resident bluegrass band Eight Dollar Mountain, playing as a trio rather than their usual five-piece setup.
The trio, Darren Campbell (guitar), Phil Johnson (mandolin), and Peter Koerella (bass, and founding member of the group, who left after five years and was filling in for Joe Porto), were thrilled to be opening for Jacob Jolliff as they had been fans of Jolliff’s past work for many years. Phil Johnson stated his gratitude that the Ashland Folk Collective reached out to them, and laughed that, “I couldn’t buy a ticket, and now I don’t have to.” Peter Koerella added, “It’s really cool that the Ashland Folk Collective is able to bring someone in like Jacob Jolliff. This guy is touring all over the country with a big band, and that’s something to be commended for the AFC.”
Eight Dollar Mountain will be celebrating their 10-year anniversary next month, and when asked about the differences between playing as a trio versus a five-piece, Darren Campbell supplied, “It’s more vocal forward in a way. There’s less instrumentation to build things up and we’re trying to do it more with voices and we don’t have to take as many solos, so the songs are a lot shorter.” [laughs] For this particular show, the group chose to share a single mic, called a “hot mic”, rather than having multiple mics and pickups. When asked about the challenges of using a hot mic Koerella replied, “It makes it both easier and more complicated at the same time. The stage is simpler, and you’re focusing more on the musicians rather than the giant microphone they’re facing, but a hot mic captures everything…it also forces you to do some actual choreography, like when you’re moving in and when you’re moving out.”
“You don’t want to get whacked by a banjo,” joked Johnson with a mischievous grin.
Jacob Jolliff and his band had a similar setup with a single mic for vocals, mandolin, and fiddle, while the guitarist and bassist had their own mics. Throughout the set the musicians moved skillfully back and forth to sing together and to let one player take their solo. With a healthy mixture of instrumentals and bluegrass classics like “Georgia Rose” and “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere”, Jolliff kept the audience engaged and enthralled. Jolliff’s lightning fingers looked like someone had pressed fast forward as he moved up and down the neck of his mandolin, a serene almost bored expression on his face while the rest of his band easily kept up with him, adding their own adept solos to the lineup.
“This band has some of the most creative, emotive arrangements. You don’t know where they are going, but where they do go is incredible,” shared Jacqui Aubert of the Ashland Folk Collective. Aubert went on to say, “[The Jacob Jolliff Band] is exactly what we are always hoping to bring to Ashland, good human beings, working hard, with immense talent, doing something original and progressive.” The AFC are already hoping to book Jacob Jolliff for their fall 2020 lineup when Jolliff’s new record has been released.
The Ashland Folk Collective will be hosting John Craigie next month as their last show of 2019. Check out their website for tickets.