Slammin Jack to lay down stadium grass in the Boot
Where:The Boot Pub
When:Monday, Sept. 29.
Vancouver jam band Slammin Jack named their debut CD A day late, a dollar short. But on their last tour that took them from one end of this vast nation to the other, they couldn't afford to be a day late. The Jack boys did 33 shows in 51 days, the rock 'n' roll equivalent of an ultra-marathon.
So it's no surprise guitarist Rich Martin sounded a little bit weary over the phone from Vancouver. After a well-deserved week-long break, he and his Slammin Jack bandmates - Martin Ayerst, Jeffrey Kornblum, Sean Scallion and Scott Daniels - get back in the swing of things with a hometown show this Saturday and a trip up to Whistler to headline Monday Madness at the Boot Pub.
Even though Vancouver is where the members of the five-piece pay rent, Martin says he used to live in Whistler and hence loves coming back to play. Especially when the venue is what used to be his favourite local watering hole.
"I lived there for a while, so I know the ins and outs," says Martin. "The Boot is a place I always dreamed of playing, and now here I am. It's not the biggest place but there's something about it. You know there's been some serious players up on that stage. You can kind of feel it. The walls definitely have a lot of stories."
Together for just over a year and a half, Jack doesn't have much of a history yet, but they're working on it.
"We're just a bunch of buddies who met at the bar shooting pool, and then we set up a little jam space," says Martin, whose background in jam-style improv blended surprisingly well with the other members' rock 'n' roll styles. Marathon tours like their recent odyssey and the upcoming release of their debut CD are helping to make them a major player on the Canadian jam band scene, a scene Martin says has stronger roots out east. He pays tribute to the spirit of collaboration in all levels of the Vancouver live music community for helping to gain exposure for West Coast bands.
"Everyone kind of realizes, there's a really good thing going on here, so lets put this place on the map," says Martin.
But it doesn't matter how much support a band has; it's not getting on the map if it can't make the people groove. With their melodic mish-mash of genres and four-part vocal harmonies spiked with Phish-influenced improv sessions, the boys of Slammin Jack have no trouble filling the dance floor. They actually had to invent a new lexicon to cover their hybrid of progressive disco and bluegrass - "stadium grass," Martin chuckles.
"We like to do things a little ridiculous. If you're going to play a disco song, make it a ridiculous one, push things to the limit. We start out with real bluegrass, but within a few minutes it takes an interesting spin. Next thing you know, I'm riding the Tube Screamers (guitar pedals) and it turns into stadium grass."
As a jam band, Martin hesitates to define Slammin Jack by its biggest musical influence, but can't hide his admiration for Trey Anastasio and Co., especially the connection Phish is able to create with their fans.
"They just go up there and have a great time, and they're just a bunch of dorks," says Martin, "but they've stumbled upon this symbiosis between the crowd and them, and they create this really cool thing.
"It's the same thing with us. When there's a huge crowd, throwing every bit of energy they have at us, we just take it, fuck with it, and throw it right back at 'em. It's really cool."
And it's probably a good thing that Phish is a much bigger influence on the band than the spirit that influenced their name, a spirit that's sent many a rocker to rehab. Martin says, while he enjoys the bourbon every so often there are a few members of the band that can barely choke down a sip. Ironically, fans assume from the name there's nothing the boys would love more than a round of shots of Jack Daniel's.
The name, says Martin, materialized out of a night at the Silvertone Tavern. "I think we were sitting around a bottle of Jack Daniels and it had something to do with a bartender and the Montreal Canadiens," he laughs, searching for something more concrete, but coming up empty. "Maybe I had a little too much bourbon that day, but I just can't remember."
They may not remember where their name came from, but you can count on them putting on a memorable show at the Boot this Monday. Tickets $5 at the door. Call 604-932-3338 for more information.