BEST BETS: Eclectic Bumper Jacksons to perform at Schwartz Center

The Bumper Jacksons, with members from Baltimore and Washington, will bring their mix of Americana jazz and blues to the Schwartz Center for the Arts March 31. (Submitted photo)

Throw in a heaping helping of Americana roots music, toss in some country swing and add a taste of jazz and blues, mix it all up in a blender and you have the recipe for Bumper Jacksons.

The seven-piece band, based in Baltimore and Washington, will light up Dover’s Schwartz Center for the Arts March 31 at 7:30 p.m.

With influences as varied as Bob Wills, Louis Armstrong, Bessie Smith, The Mills Brothers, Hank Williams and the New Orleans Jazz Vipers, The Bumper Jacksons have carved their own niche in the music world.

For their unique sound, they have been honored as the region’s 2015 “Artist of the Year” and “Best Folk Band” from 2013 to 2015 at the Washington Area Music Awards.

The genesis for the group began in 2010 when Jess Eliot Myhre and Chris Ousley met a house party in Washington.

“There was this big jam circle and as more people starting leaving, the circle got smaller. Then toward the bitter end, Chris was one of a few people left, playing guitar and I was singing. We became friends and then started dating. But we met through music,” said Ms. Myhre, who had a baby with Mr. Ousley in January.

The two started as a duo in 2012 and formed a side project, The Sligo Creek Stompers string band as well.

Eventually The Bumper Jacksons grew to its seven-member size after a few of the musicians casually dropped in on a few gigs with the duo.

“We were very loosely formed and it became almost modular depending who was available for different gigs. Guest musicians would join us for different songs,” Ms. Myhre said.

These days, Ms. Myhre handles vocal duties, clarinet and washboard; Mr. Ousley does vocals and plays guitar and banjo; Alex Lacquement plays upright bass and harmony vocals; Dan Samuels is on drums; Dave Hadley plays pedal steel guitar, Brian Priebe is on trombone; and Joseph Brotherton plays trumpet.

“Our bass player Alex saw us performing as a duo and after a few times sitting in with us, we didn’t really want him performing without us. The whole band was really expanded in a nice way. It’s been very organic and based around friendships even more than the music,” Ms. Myhre said.

“At this point every member is completely irreplaceable.”

Ms. Myhre and Mr. Ousley handle the songwriting duties.

After performing in hip hop and funk bands at Wesleyan University, Ms. Myhre moved to New Orleans and was moved by the jazz and second line sounds.

Mr. Ousley, from Baltimore, studied music in western Pennsylvania with his trusty banjo by his side.

“I think the reason why we have such an eclectic sound is that Chris and I come from such different musical backgrounds,” Ms. Myhre said.

“I learned traditional jazz in New Orleans and Chris, when we first met, was much more interested in bluegrass. When we met, there was this melding of our worlds and we started teaching each other different sounds and the music started to be more nuanced, mixing different genres.”

Ms. Myhre said the two write separately and then come together as “we get closer to having a finished product.”

“It’s then when we help each other. I feel like Chris is stronger with the lyrics where I’m more involved with the arranging. So if he has an idea that is more reined in, I can go in there and just explode it,” she said.

The Bumper Jacksons’ new album, “I’ve Never Met a Stranger” will be released in May.

“This one is our strongest yet. I think our original songwriting is much more interesting and it’s much more horn-driven with really rich horn arrangements on many of the pieces,” Ms. Myhre said.

The video for the high-energy title track was recently released. It features members of the band on bikes and pedicabs riding and playing through the streets of Washington. The longer they travel, the more people they pick up along the way, until the crowd that follows them numbers about 200.

“Chris produced it and the execution behind everything took a huge amount of planning,” Ms. Myhre said.

“As we went through our planned route, we had other bicyclists join us and by the time we finished, we had even more people than we thought we were going to have. Even more people just decided to join us along the way. I think the video really capture the joy and the spontaneity of the days.”

To see the video and to listen to their music, visit bumperjackson.com.

Tickets to the Schwartz show are $25-20 and can be purchased by visiting schwartzcenter.com, calling 678-5152 or stopping by the box office at 226 S. State St.

Symphony, Graves Sunday

As we told you last week, internationally renowned mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves will be the guest artist with the Delaware Symphony Orchestra Sunday at 7:30 p.m., at the Theater at Dover High School, in the orchestra’s first appearance in Dover since 2009.

Denyce Graves

Music director David Amado will lead the orchestra and Ms. Graves in Manuel de Falla’s Ballet Suite from “El Amor Brujo,” a fiery showpiece for the singer and orchestra. The concert will begin with Sir Edward Elgar’s “Serenade for Strings,” and conclude with Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony.

The Dover concert is the first event in an Arts-in-Education Collaboration between the DSO and Dover High School

and its Academy of the Arts. Following the concert, Ms. Graves will take part in a Q&A session with Dover high music students, and DSO musicians will be working with faculty and student musicians at the high school throughout the school year.

Tickets are $15, $25, and $35 for adults, and $10 for students. Seats are general admission by section, and are available at the Modern Maturity Center, 1121 Forrest Ave., Dover, 302-734-1200; The Senator Stop at Dover High School, 1 Dover High Drive, Dover; Schwartz Center for the Arts Box Office, 226 S. State Str., Dover, 302-678-5152; and through the Delaware Symphony office, 302-656-7442, or by email at tickets@delawaresymphony.org.

Arts in the Parlor tonight

Wesley College’s seventh annual Arts in the Parlor event will be held today at the Schwartz Center for the Arts. The fundraising event is a celebration of the arts with proceeds going to help support student scholarships.

This year’s theme is a masquerade ball with the event being dedicated to the memory of Jane Mattern, who served on the event planning committee for five years.

Arts in the Parlor will feature students and faculty performances of Schubert, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Verdi and more. The main-stage performance will feature the Wesley Symphonic Band who will perform an arrangement of “Edelweiss.”

Valerie Bernhardt, adjunct professor of voice, will be singing “Morro, Ma Prima in Grazia” from Un Ballo in Maschera (A Masked Ball) by Verdi. The third-floor ballroom will feature a Schubert piano duet, the “Fantasia” in F minor, a piece by the Wesley Wind Quartet and a rousing drinking song from Verdi’s “La Traviata.” Dr. Mike Nielsen, retired professor of multimedia communication will play the harp in the McNynch Gallery.

Doors open at 6 p.m. and individual tickets are $75. Tickets and sponsorships can be purchased online at alumni.wesley.edu or by contacting Laura Bigham Mayse, director of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving at (302) 736-2317 or laura.mayse@wesley.edu

‘Pickers’ in Delaware

Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz are bringing their “American Pickers” television show to Delaware in May.

“American Pickers” is a documentary series that explores the world of antique ‘picking’ on History. The show follows the two as they hunt for America’s most valuable antiques.

The cast of “American Pickers” will be in Delaware in May. (Submitted photo)

Along the way, the Pickers want to meet characters with remarkable and exceptional items. According to a press release, “the pair hope to give historically significant objects a new lease on life, while learning a thing or two about America’s past along the way.”

If you or someone you know has a large, private collection or accumulation of antiques that the Pickers can spend the better part of the day looking through, send your name, phone number, location and description of the collection with photos to americanpickers@cineflix.com or call 855-OLD-RUST.

Items they are not looking for include farming/agriculture items, tools, glassware, appliances, tractors, crocks, stoves and country primitives.

Now showing

New in theaters this weekend is the big-screen remake of the TV cop show “Chips”; the sci-fi fantasy film “Life”; “Power Rangers”; and the basketball drama “Slamma Jamma.”

On DVD and download starting Tuesday are the fantasy films “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” and “A Monster Calls”; the Bryan Cranston and James Franco comedy “Why Him?”; the Boston Marathon bombing film “Patriots Day”; and the acclaimed drama “20th Century Women.”

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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