Northwest Mountain Music


Praise for Sunday Never Comes

For over 15 years, Oregon’s Jackstraw band has been entertaining fans across the U.S. The new release is their sixth and features their newest member, banjo player Cory Goldman. The other members include Darrin Craig (rhythm guitar), Jon Neufeld (lead guitar), David Pugh (mandolin), and Jesse Withers (bass). With the exception of Goldman, all the members contribute to vocals and harmony. This new project is also a selection of completely original material from the members. The group is instrumentally tight as shown on “Sunny Brae” and “Randy The Rambler” and the pretty “Pearly May.” “Dark And Empty” is a mournful composition from David Pugh, although the notes do not identify the fiddle player. Other selections include “Come On Back To Me,” “Poor Man,” “May The Twains Ne’Er Meet,” and the title cut “Sunday Never Comes.” – Bluegrass Unlimited, June 2012

Portland, OR based five-piece stringband Jackstraw is out with their sixth acoustic album, Sunday Never Comes. The band, their music, and the album itself embody a masterful blend of old and new, from the composition of the longtime lineup now joined by Cory Goldman of the Water Tower Bucket Boys (banjo), to classic Appalachian and fingerpicked bluegrass filtered through a modern Pacific Northwest roots and punk-inflected lens, to original recordings funded by social entrepreneur fundraising site Kickstarter. Check out Sunday Never Comes for an energetic and engaging take on traditional sounds. Fans based in the PNW region can catch them live on tour or at annual festivals such as Montana’s Kootenai River Bluegrass Fest and Wintergrass. – Record Dept. Music Reviews, April 2012

Sunday Never Comes [is a new] record of all-original material [that] has a warm, mellow vibe that had me hooked from the start. It’s getting lots of well-deserved airplay from folkie DJs, charting at slot #10 on the FOLKDJ‐L radio playlist for last month. Recording live at the Type Foundry, they achieved a compelling sound that sits easy with folkies, grassers and Deadheads alike. For this project, the quartet enlisted the uber-clean banjo of Cory Goldman (Water Tower Bucket Boys), who sounds like he’s always been there, holding down the twang. And even though Portland may not be known as a hotbed of red-hot bluegrass (and with two guitars in their mix, Jackstraw is not really a conventional bluegrass band), it’s no surprise that the fertile Portland music community spawned the Northwest mountain music of Jackstraw. Turn it up, and enjoy! – Fiddle Freak, March 25, 2012

A lot of band[s] are now playing bluegrass or variations on it drawing from a deep well of tradition and adding their own touches and songs to widen the vocabulary of the music. This Portland, Oregon quintet are right in there and this is their sixth album. It consists of largely original songs written by band members Darrin Craig and David Pugh. The band is completed by Jon Neufeld, Jesse Withers and newest member Cory Goldman from The Water Tower Bucket Boys. They mix story songs and sharp instrumentals (Sunny Brae, Pearly May) that highlight both their picking and their vocal skills. Dark and Empty is a harsh ballad that is partly summed up by its title. But they can also kick it up a notch, in tone at least, as with Just Another Way To Go. There is enough here to please the traditionalists as well as those who have been listening to acoustic music being played by ex-punks. The have the lonesome harmonies and the restraint that delivers on songs like the title track and It Hurts When I See You with some conviction. While something with a title like If I Die is more of a heartbreak hoedown. It is also heartening to see the list of those who contributed to the funding for the making of this album. It shows that even a smallish number of people can help keep a band, in these economic hard times, going and recording. – Lonesome Highway, January 30, 2012

My first encounter with Jackstraw was some years ago on hearing their album ‘Rubber Wheels’ so when their latest album arrived it was like fanning up the embers of an old memory – and a damn fine one it is too. It’s no secret that I love American folk and roots music and ‘Sunday Never Comes’ from Jackstraw is a masterclass in Americana roots. … Jackstraw rip out a fast-paced instrumentals that will make your feet tap, unless someone’s nailed your shoes to the floor, equally they wander through sorrowful stories to make you weep. In recent years ‘roots’ has acquired no end of definitions – well what you have here is music from the roots. And those roots run deep through the earth, rivers and mountains to suck up the essence of their music. … This album has the mysterious intrigue and attraction of a threadbare, well-travelled suitcase combined with the habitual security and comfort of a pair of well-worn boots. The flavour is raw and hungry, the feel is dark and dusty, the engagement is total, the times are good – you’ll love ‘Sunday Never Comes’. [Read More] – Tom Franks, Folkwords, February 2, 2012

The members of Jackstraw describe their sound as “northwest mountain music,” creating tunes somewhere between old-time Appalachian music and the up-and-coming, punk and honky-tonk influenced sounds of the Pacific Northwest. On Sunday Never Comes, they stay closest to the old-time side of things … However, they do utilize three-finger style bluegrass banjo, which adds an interesting aspect to the album. The majority of the songs on the album are band originals, with guitarist/vocalist Craig and mandolin player Pugh contributing the majority of the songs. … Jackstraw is a band which has the potential to appeal to a wide audience, from fans of traditional bluegrass to those who prefer old-time or country, and having released six records to date proves their staying power within the northwest bluegrass scene. [Read More] – John Goad, Bluegrass Today, February 21, 2012

Although from the Pacific Northwest, Oregon pickers, Jackstraw, play like they grew up in the mountain south. Their sound is as Appalachian as a bowl of soup beans and cornbread. -April D. Wolfe, Common Folk Music 2011

For nearly 15 years, Jackstraw has been a sturdy foundation of Portland’s thriving roots music scene. With a sound firmly planted in stringband traditions, the group’s music is still somehow resiliently pliant, shrugging off museum-piece austerity for a personable, daisy-fresh sound. Their sixth album, Sunday Never Comes, is an easygoing affair that features the band’s newest member, banjoist Cory Goldman from Water Tower Bucket Boys, and songwriting contributions from the group members as well as likeminded local songwriters like W.C. Beck and Caleb Klauder. With precise, nimble picking and a continually forward-thinking outlook, Jackstraw breathe young life into old-time bluegrass via their tightly strung, hollow-bodied wooden instruments, and imprint a fresh Pacific Northwest stamp on a well-worn, pleasingly familiar sound. – The Portland Mercury, Dec. 2011

Jackstraw’s dual frontmen, Darrin Craig and David Pugh, are able singers and pickers, but more important, they share a clear musician vision on Sunday Never Comes. Jackstraw is classic without feeling precious; highly instrumental but not jammy; funny but never cute. The band can tackle songs of vastly different emotional weights and keep them safely under the same aesthetic roof: “Hurts When I See You” is a haunting, lovely waltz that stands in stark contrast to the title track, which mixes sepia-toned sentimentalism and gallows humor as it trades train-whistle verses and galloping instrumentals. … To be clear, there’s nothing particularly new about Jackstraw making a great modern roots record. This one is just particularly great. -Casey Jarman, Willamette Week (Portland OR) Nov 30, 2011

More Reviews

Jackstraw impresses me with their tight-knit, skilled musicianship, their crackling energy and repertoire which includes both traditional gems and fresh new tunes. A young band like this helps set the tone for new bluegrass in the 21st Century. Pete Wernick (Hot Rize)

Jackstraw has added some much-needed youthful energy to the ranks of contemporary traditional bluegrass, . . . It’ll be a pleasure to hear Jackstraw’s next recording. Dirty Linen Magazine

… comforting proof that the widening popularity of bluegrass threatens neither authenticity nor energy. John Foyston – The Oregonian – Portland, OR

If their mandolin-driven, high-energy songs don’t give you the desire to get up and dance, you might want to have all your vital organs checked. Megan Patrick – Daily Evergreen – Moscow, ID

This avant-garde bluegrass band from Portland, Oregon plays on the cutting edge of acoustic music with wild solos and a great mix of traditional, original and inspired material Cartwright’s Music – Salem, OR

, . . . enough hell-bent speed to make a punk band envious! Dan Short – Casco Bay Weekly – Portland, ME

More evidence that bluegrass is in full bloom renaissance again, as young bands this talented bring to it all the energy of youth & rock, all the while firmly within the tradition they know & respect,… Tim Da Flower Punk Lynch – PauseRecord.com

Their shared passion for soulful acoustic music makes them blood brothers. Curtis Waterbury – CitySeartch.com

Playing out of Oregon, Jackstraw proves to any listener that you don’t have to be from the south to pick irresistible tunes guaranteed to make you want to get down. Ray McKrow – The Spectator – Valdosta, GA

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