Jamestown Revival opens Hi-Fi concert series on Aspen Mountain
If You Go …
What: Jamestown Revival
Where: Gondola Plaza, Aspen Mountain
When: Saturday, Nov. 28, 6:30 p.m.
How much: Free
More info: The performance will be followed by an awards ceremony for the day’s World Cup ski racers and a fireworks display over Aspen Mountain.
There’s no shortage of hairy young white guys playing acoustic instruments on U.S. stages these days, but Jamestown Revival has quickly earned a place on the top rung of the thriving folk revival in popular music, making listeners stand up and notice a band that’s reaching for a timeless sound.
The duo’s take on no-frills Americana, as showcased on its debut 2014 album, “Utah,” changes lanes smoothly from roots rock and country numbers to bare-bones folk ballads, stopping occasionally for a rollicking back-porch hootenanny.
Jamestown’s Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance harmonize gorgeously, their voices often indecipherable from each other, and spin shambling autobiographical tales with timeless folk themes — being on the road, being broke, being lonely. In concert, they have the ability to hush a crowd to silence or ramp it up into a boot-stomping frenzy.
They found the Jamestown sound while writing songs together in a cabin in the woods in Utah.
“It was sort of a revelation to be writing things that we believed in, to create songs that were honest and very autobiographical,” Chance told The Aspen Times on a tour stop at Belly Up last year. “Instead of writing songs that we thought people wanted to hear, we wrote songs that we wanted to hear and tried to craft them as best we could, judging ourselves based on the works of musicians that we were listening to at the time.”
On Saturday night, the Austin, Texas-based band opens Aspen Skiing Co.’s annual Hi-Fi winter concert series, which runs through March and includes free shows in Aspen and Snowmass Village. The band comes to Aspen following a two-night run with Ryan Bingham at the Ogden Theatre in Denver.
Clay and Chance have been friends since their teen years in Texas — they wrote their first song together at 15. But each set out on a solo career in music in the years before they teamed up for Jamestown Revival in 2011.
“I was doing more singer-songwriter stuff, really just trying to find my own identity in music, and Zach was doing the same thing,” Clay said. “We were touring and traveling together and playing two different sets. We started singing harmonies on each other’s sets, and that seemed to be what people really reacted to. I think that was something that encouraged us to take the dive and try to form some kind of collective group between us and put harmonies at the forefront of that.”
Early on in Jamestown Revival’s lifespan, the duo was one of 16 unsigned bands featured in Rolling Stone’s “Who Wants to Be a Rock & Roll Star?” contest (a stunt that landed the winner — not Jamestown Revival — on the magazine cover). As they tried to get the band off the ground, Clay and Chance moved to California and gigged mostly around Los Angeles for a few years.
Since “Utah” came out in early 2014 and found an audience, the band has been touring clubs around the U.S. while also making the rounds on the festival circuit at South by Southwest, Coachella and Bonnaroo.
The album opener, “Fur Coat Blues,” a first-world-problems lament, has a refrain that could be an anthem for the pelt-clad Aspen skiers who will begin descending on the resort this weekend. The song, the band has said, was inspired by a busker they spotted in Los Angeles, wearing a fur coat and indeed singing the blues. In the crowd watching Jamestown Revival on Aspen Mountain, they’re likely to spot a few more.
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