Encounters with The Jar Family - Sunderland - Record Store Day

You never really know where you’re going to find great new music these days. It’s no longer in the easy places. TV exposure usually means the coma-inducing ‘variety show’ carbon copies – those fossils of prime-time oblivion. Mainstream radio: a band with some firmly fixed association to big money. There are still the occasional legends that
arrive via word of mouth. But rarer still – there are those bands that suddenly detonate explosively in the flesh - when you’re not actually looking. That’s where “The Jar Family” comes in.

20.4.13. It’s ‘Record Store Day UK’, and I'm nervously approaching a crowd of people at ‘Soundscape’ at ‘The Bridges’, Sunderland, curious at the building clamour of a live band. The sound isn't quite in focus from my location – and there’s already a sizeable crowd hogging the front spot, soaking up the acoustics and the vibe – all clearly impressed. I move closer.

On the make-shift stage there’s a group of guys ‘giving it there all’. Bouncing as one upon the (surely) elastic-sprung floor- and growling and hollering into the mikes. You look for the main man to focus your attention, but this is an outfit made up of singer songwriters – they’re all the main man. And they fit together like a well-turned jigsaw – impressive for a raucous 7-piece equipped with so many potential ‘big-chiefs’. They call their sound; 'Industrial Folk', and it’s as good a name as any - a raw mesh of electric blues and acoustic guitars – driven forward by the obligatory ‘rhythm man astride a
Peruvian Cajón/slap-box.’ But above all, it’s their enthusiasm that sells their material.

They began in Hartlepool in 2010. An eclectic mix of song scribes, Max Bianco, Dali, Al Devon, Richie Docherty, Chris Hooks and (past ‘Squeeze’ bassist) Keith Wilkinson. Later, they added Kerry 'jubjub' Edwards (that’s the rhythm wizard on Cajón) to their successful rank. And it works. Not just the music. Not just the players. But their collective image ties together too; an eccentric, retro-provincial, old English society. Take note - the bands that go that crucial ‘extra mile’ are often the ones who succeed. Hell, they sport an imposing collection of hats alone. Once seen and heard - never forgotten.

‘The Bridges’, Sunderland cannot be this band’s familiar audience; stressed and weary shoppers on the first genuinely warm day of the year, adrift between the struggling franchises, hoping for that elusive bargain. But “The Jar Family” has clearly won them over. The crowd is entranced, they are not moving on. There are small children dancing and everyone is clapping – music is supposed to do that. It’s a shared experience. If the masses aren't going to the venues – bring the music to the masses. Not that, that’s a problem for this band - they already have a solid fan base. Their acoustic shows are sell-outs. With so much creative talent, they have a wide spanning collection of songs; unfaltering, idiosyncratic blues & roots - moving albums in numbers. They’re already on the iTunes 'New and Noteworthy releases' list.

Name-check the bands that they are opening for; Ocean Colour Scene’s Steve Craddock, The Charlatans and Babyshambles, Ren Harvieu, The Sunshine Underground, King Charles, Jake Bugg. You don’t get those kinds of slots lightly. Yet they’re here today, closer to home, still giving it 100%. 'All dressed up – and everywhere to go'. You really
have to respect that. Get in on these guys now, before they break big. It is going to happen.

Jeff Jinx – out.

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