MUSIC BOX: Last Hurrahs of Summer

By on August 23, 2017

Fruition’s Jay Cobb Anderson delivers a juicy trio and Mojo Green funks up Concert on the Commons.

Jay Cobb Anderson

JACKSON HOLE, WY – When Jay Cobb Anderson jumped from the small pond of Lewiston, Idaho, to Portland, Oregon, to form rock band Fruition nearly a decade ago with a hundred dollars in his pocket, he had no idea that he’d be living out of his truck eight years later to support himself. As the load of sacrifice became evident, so did the ability to swallow anything that didn’t contribute to the progression and health of the muse.

For Anderson, a prolific songwriter, the tunes that didn’t fit with Fruition had piled up by the dozens, eventually nudging him to release a solo LP in 2012, I’m a Rambler, I’m a Fool. From his “along the riverbed” folk tunes to heartland Americana ballads to loud, grimy rock and roll ragers, Anderson whittled down a hundred songs to 12. So when Fruition has a break from crisscrossing the country playing festivals or recording, Anderson hits the road with his solo band. This time around, Jay Cobb Anderson Band (JCAB) is a trio featuring Fruition rhythm section Jeff Leonard (bass) and Tyler Thomson (drums), the latter bandmate also being the co-producer of the album.

It’s funny cause I feel like it’s completely different even though the band is three-fifths of Fruition,” said Anderson, who is a precision guitarist and a showman at heart. “I think what makes Fruition is every individual player playing together. Take one away from the equation and it’s just not the same. Also, there are two other songwriters. There are many songs I write that don’t quite fit with the band— they don’t lend themselves to harmonies, or are a bit too heavy. Before Fruition I was mostly in rock ‘n’ roll bands, so I got that rock ‘n’ roll in me and the JCAB is a good way to get it out.”

Growing a band in Portland is not an easy undertaking, though many seek its fertile talent bed of like minds for the possibilities unknown. It’s become such a mishmash of styles and venues that music fans and musicians tend to keep an open mind. Besides Fruition and JCAB, Anderson’s other projects include The Bellyboys and Rose City Thorns (formerly known as the Villains).

Portland is very community oriented, and the music scene is no exception,” Anderson said. “So the musicians here play in many different projects, and experiment in all different styles. We also look out for each other and try to put together bills of our friends. Some of my favorite shows have been a hodgepodge of genres, like a bluegrass band and then a rock band and then some hip-hop and then a DJ. It’s a very accepting and eclectic place.”

The downside is that in the local ‘zine scene, a lot of great music is swept under the rug depending on what the people that run the magazines deem to be the current musical trend, he added.

For a songwriter of Anderson’s output level, it’s a wonder what would happen if he could handpick a co-writer, a hero, to join him on a session.

“There are so many writers that I love, respect and admire,” he said. “I’m a huge Beatles freak so co-writing a song with Paul McCartney would be an absolute dream come true. When it comes to a more realistic goal, I’d love to co-write with David Rawlings and Gillian Welch. I love everything they’ve ever done and I love their lyrical imagery. Oh also, Tom Waits is one of my heroes and I’ve always loved his lyrical imagery too.”

Jay Cobb Anderson Band with this columnist as special guest, 9:30 p.m. Saturday, August 18 at Town Square Tavern, $10.

Mojo Green

Mojo in Commons

Heavy horn funk and soul comes in the form of Mojo Green, the seven-piece Reno, Nevada, powerhouse that will close Concert on the Commons this Sunday. The ambassador of the band, guitarist Tim Bain, notes the band’s hip-hop flavor that sets the band apart from similar projects that also share the love of vintage soul and funk music.

There’s also a mindset of seven that makes Mojo Green a democracy rather than a dictatorship.

We all write and contribute our parts to the song, that’s the beauty of Mojo Green,” Bain said. “It’s a collaboration of all players. For the most part, one player brings an initial idea and it’s usually built on from there. My personal favorite writing technique is when we start with a funky drum beat, add a deep pocket bass line, I layer in some funk guitar, the horns start working lines and Jenes [Carter] starts writing down lyrics as we flush out the music. Then it all comes together.”

Mojo Green, 5:30 p.m. Sunday, August 20 at the Village Commons, free, all-ages.

Aaron Davis is a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, member of Screen Door Porch and Boondocks, audio engineer at Three Hearted Studio, founder/host of Songwriter’s Alley, and co-founder of The WYOmericana Caravan.

About Aaron Davis

Aaron Davis is a decade-long writer of Music Box, a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, member of Screen Door Porch and Boondocks, founder/host of Songwriter’s Alley, and co-founder of The WYOmericana Caravan.

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