Studio Session: Jacob Jolliff

KGNU’s Mike Finn chats with Jacob Jolliff, an acclaimed mandolin player. Jacob introduces his band and discusses their new album, “Instrumentals Vol. 2: Mandolin Mysteries”.
Jacob talks about the songwriting process, his bluegrass roots, and provides details on the band’s busy tour schedule (Interview date: 5/26/2024)

 

Mike Finn: As promised, we have the Jacob Jolliff band, and we’re gonna let him get into some music.Let me tell you a quick bio on Jacob. He’s an acoustic music instrumentalist. He studied at Berkeley College on a full music scholarship. He was a member of the bands Joy, Kill Sorrow, and Yonder Mountain String Band. He won the National Mandolin Championship in Winfield, Kansas. And he’s here with his band. We’ll let you play a tune, and then you can introduce the band members.

Jacob Jolliff: You bet. Thanks, Mike. That’s one called “The Perils of Macrame”. And it’s on the new album that just came out a couple days ago.

Mike Finn: Yeah, and that’s called Instrumentals Vol. 2: Mandolin Mysteries.

Jacob Jolliff: That’s what I’ve been writing, yeah.

Mike Finn: And that’s all original music for Adhyaropa Records. I saw here that you wrote most of this album on piano, which was a great way to open up new possibilities.You want to speak to that real quick?

Jacob Jolliff: Oh, sure. Yeah, I’m not a good piano player at all, but I sit down on the piano and try to come up with new ideas. Some melodies and harmony and then switch it over to the mandolin to try to get out of my box a little bit.

Mike Finn: Hey, why don’t you introduce the members of your band?

Jacob Jolliff: George Jackson, an incredible fiddle player living in Nashville, Tennessee originally from New Zealand. at An amazing guitar player, originally from Dallas, Texas, and lived in Colorado for a while, now, and Queens, New York, Ross Martin. And then the Prince of Fort Collins, on the bass, it’s Myles Sloniker.

Mike Finn: Alright, very good.

Jacob Jolliff: And me.

Mike Finn: And you. I’m sure the listeners enjoyed that, why don’t we have maybe a couple more?

Jacob Jolliff: Sure, you bet, yeah. We’ll do another one from the new album.

Mike Finn: Awesome.What was the name of that tune?

Jacob Jolliff: “The Devil Hath Power to Assume a Pleasing Shape”. Bit of a dramatic title. From Hamlet.

Mike Finn: What a nice composition. Okay. Jump on into the next one you want to play.

Jacob Jolliff: Alright, we’re going to do a Bluegrass gospel tune. I grew up playing in a bluegrass gospel band out in northwest Oregon with my dad, Bill Jolliff, and this isn’t one that we did but it’s one I’ve listened to a lot. One entitled, “Holding Up the Ladder”.

Mike Finn: Very nice. I thought I knew pretty much every Bluegrass Gospel song, but that’s a new one on me.

Jacob Jolliff: That’s a good one, it’s the Easter Brothers.

Mike Finn: Tell us a little bit about where people can get your new album and maybe a little bit about your tour. I saw your tour, you look very busy.

Jacob Jolliff: Pretty busy. For a mandolin-led bluegrass band. Let’s see, the new album came out a couple days ago. You can order the vinyl or the digital on Bandcamp. And you can find links to that on my website jacobjolliff.com. And yeah, we got a bunch of dates, probably about 50 some more this year. Playing Meadowgrass this afternoon. And then the Dairy Arts Center on Monday. And then we have a southeast run. We’re going down to Virginia, North Carolina, and then a bunch more out on the west coast, and we’re coming back to Colorado too for Rapidgrass.

Mike Finn: Oh yeah. I like those guys too.

Jacob Jolliff: Yeah, me too. And we are playing in Telluride, not the festival, but in Telluride. Abunch of dates. They’re all on my website.

Mike Finn: You mentioned growing up in the Northwest and I’ll be honest with you, I had to look up Newberg, Oregon on the map. That’s really cool. You guys are obviously very tight. You must have been together for quite a while.

Jacob Jolliff: The band has been together for probably seven or eight years. But this exact lineup for just about a year and a half. Ross has played with me for longer and Myles on the bass quite a lot longer. But with this four piece, George started doing all the fiddle work at the beginning of 2023.

So this has been the group for the last year and a half or so. And all year it’s gonna be the same cats.

Mike Finn: Very nice. Meadowgrass is in Colorado Springs for the listeners that don’t know. And you’ll be there this afternoon, and Dairy Arts Center tomorrow evening.

Jacob Jolliff: Yeah, exactly.

Mike Finn: Okay. Before you play us out, is there anything else you’d like to add before we do another tune?

Jacob Jolliff: We appreciate you having us on. We haven’t done too many radio shows, so it’s a pleasure to get to play. And we’ll do one that the FreshGrass organization commissioned – a longer piece from us.

And we’re going to do the first movement of that Art Heist suite.

Mike Finn: Very nice. Thank you Jacob and fellas, and I want to remind our listeners that that was the Jacob Jolliff Band, and I really appreciate it. I want to say safe travels down to the Springs this afternoon, and we enjoyed having you.

Jacob Jolliff: Yeah, thanks for having us, Mike, appreciate it.

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