Interview: Cris Jacobs

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“My parents used to listen to music all the time, they’d leave us with a babysitter while they’d go to a three night Grateful Dead run up in New York City or somewhere like that,” says Baltimore-based Americana artist Cris Jacobs, whose news album, Dust To Gold, was released on October 21st via American Showplace Music. “At 15, I saw someone playing guitar at school…maybe it was the way the girls flocked around him or something, but I thought to myself, ‘Yeah, that looks like a good idea’,” he adds with a laugh. “Once I picked it up, I got addicted pretty quickly. I decided I was going to do whatever it took to play music for the rest of my life.”

Jacobs inherited his parents’ love of The Dead, going to festivals and concerts with them as he got older, and spent a decade in touring jam-centric band The Bridge. “We released six albums; we did the 200-dates-a-year-in-the-van kinds of tours, and had some great times,” Jacobs recalls.  “We sort of retired, and I wanted to keep playing and writing, so I went solo.”

Dust to Gold features songs Jacobs had collected in his personal cache for the last several years; a cursory listen to the album showcases his uncanny ability to fuse various styles into a cohesive package—you’ll hear everything from slide guitar-tinged blues and acoustic country to gospel-influenced jams, all delivered in Jacobs’ smooth-as-silk vocals,  “I’ve never decided on a genre; I’ve explored several styles deeply—I had a heavy bluegrass phase, a blues phase, was into rock, I dabbled in jazz, and I listen to everything. I’m not trying to write according to standard genre styles, I just write what I hear in my head, it’s like a melting pot. It’s liberating when I sit down to write, because I have every direction to go in, and it’s also terrifying because I have every direction to go in,” he laughs. “So many styles share common threads, from bluegrass to early Dixieland jazz to country blues to rock n’ roll. Doc Watson and Louis Armstrong are too far apart in my book. I like them all. I’ve been called a ‘schizophrenic musician’, and that’s fine with me.”

He’s shared stages with the likes of Sturgill Simpson and Steve Winwood, and kicks off an East Coast tour to support Dust To Gold in Sellersville, Pennsylvania on November 3rd.

Tour dates:

Nov 03 – Sellersville, PA – Sellersville Theatre *

Nov 04 – Washington, DC – Gypsy Sally’s *

Nov 05 – Owings Mills, MD – Gordon Center *

Nov 10 – Morgantown, WV – Schmitt’s Saloon

Nov 11 – Frostburg, MD – Dante’s

Nov 12 – Roanoke, VA – Martin’s

Nov 13 – Charlotte, NC – Rabbit Hole

Nov 16 – Macon, GA – Cox Capitol Theatre #

Nov 17 – Atlanta, GA – Eddie’s Attic #

Nov 18 – Nashville, TN – The Basement #

Nov 19 – Whitesburg, KY – Appalshop Theatre

Nov 23 – Baltimore, MD – 8×10 (The Bridge)

Nov 30 – Pittsburgh, PA – Club Café

Dec 02 – Philadelphia, PA – Ardmore Music Hall

Dec 03 – Richmond, VA – The Camel

Dec 21 – Washington, DC – Gyspy Sally’s

* w/ Amy Helm

# w/ Marc Ford

 

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Susan Hubbard

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