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David Jacobs-Strain: A Night With the Blues

Jim Santella By

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Anaheim Downtown Community Center
Anaheim, California
November 20, 2004

Communicating with his audience like a fired-up veteran of the blues, 21-year-old David Jacobs-Strain brought his acoustic guitars and his powerful vocal style to Anaheim for a thrilling get-together that ushered in the holiday season with open arms. Performing alone on stage in the comfortable room, he mixed originals with down-home blues roots classics that had the audience rockin' in their seats and stompin' the floor gently with rhythmic enthusiasm. Jacobs-Strain has a contagious delivery that overpowers. When appropriate, however, he can become extremely hushed in his convincing manner of blues interpretation.

Traditional blues by Robert Johnson, Blind Willie Johnson, Sleepy John Estes, and Mississippi Fred McDowell made up a large part of the program, as Jacobs-Strain performed casually for more than an hour. His fresh originals continue to stoke the fires that burn traditional blues from the inside out. His "Sidewalk Rag" and "Yelapa Breakdown," both instrumentals, demonstrated the virtuosic fingerstyle technique that this fiery guitarist makes look so easy. His vocal ballad "Ocean or a Teardrop" featured a convincing tale of current events and the feelings that we all share about life and death.

Traditional blues pieces such as "Kokomo Blues," "Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning," "Love in Vain," "Walking Blues," "Come On in my Kitchen," "Poor Boy," "Soul of a Man" and "Girl I Love, She Got Long Curly Hair" brought Jacobs-Strain close to his audience with a natural feel for this universal form of communication. Using his slide intermittently on both the National steel guitar and his cutaway fingerstyle flat-top model, the young artist was able to express each message convincingly and provide his audience with a night to remember.

The evening's opener was a local acoustic guitar duo that interpreted an eclectic set of Americana classics, from traditional fare to traditional blues and jazz. Veterans Stefan Sion and Jeff Anderson mixed bluegrass, country, and swing in a refreshing program that recalled vital moments in American history.

"Alabama Jubilee," "East Tennessee Rag" and "Foggy Mountain Special" featured effervescent pickin' and blazing fast cascades of fingerstyle motion. "It Don't Mean a Thing (If it Ain't Got That Swing)" allowed the duo an opportunity to relax a little and to bring out the nods and foot taps from their audience. Similarly, two classic jazz tunes by Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli, "Tears" and "Minor Swing," got the crowd rockin' in their chairs. Sion was particularly effective singing Johnny Cash's "Give My Love to Rose," as he delivered with conviction and genuine empathy. Although the duo had difficulty keeping their rhythms precisely together throughout the 45-minute session, they gave their Anaheim Downtown Community Center audience quite a thrill.

Sponsored by The Living Tradition , a non-profit organization working for the preservation of traditional music and dance, the night's concerts served the music proud.

Visit David Jacobs-Strain on the web at www.davidjacobs-strain.com .

Photo Credit
Michael Strain

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