Jatoba's 'last hurrah'

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BRATTLEBORO — Jatoba is gearing up for a release party of the long-awaited, explosive CD that is equal parts bluegrass, folk and psychedelic or "groove grass" to borrow the genre band members use to describe the music they make.

"We're all super excited the album's coming out," guitarist Jason Scaggs said of "Last Man Standing."

The Gaslight Tinkers, another local band, will open Saturday's show, Nov. 10,  at 8 p.m. at The Stone Church in Brattleboro.

"It's a total one-time deal," Scaggs said. "It's the last hurrah if you want to cheese it out. There's no real plans to do any Jatoba stuff after this."

His band had started a Kickstarter to help record its junior album in Northfire Recording Studio in Amherst, Mass., with plans to release it in April 2015. But then bassist Jeff Richardson put in his "notice."

"It was amicable," said John Jamison, who plays mandolin and guitar. "We're all still friends."

Richardson said he wanted out of the band because he had other things going on in his life. Mostly, he was focused on being a new homeowner and working a 45-hour-a-week job. He was looking to do less gigs while Scaggs and Jamison wanted to play a lot more. They had been doing two or three shows every other weekend.

"We all had day jobs, I had a couple of kids and we'd do these insane one-offs down to Virginia for a weekend and back because we didn't want to pass up a good gig," Scaggs said. "I felt the same strains Jeff was feeling but I'm just more stubborn I think."

Jatoba hired musicians in order not to cancel shows already booked, delaying the printing and packaging of the album. Only production had been covered by the $5,000 raised through crowdfunding. That included recording, mixing and mastering.

A lot of friends and "super fans" contributed to the cause.

"So they've been tolerant over these three years," said Scaggs.

The band received messages like: "Where's my [expletive] CD?" And one friend began making memes making light of the situation. This dynamic, Scaggs said, allowed band members to stay in touch with friends and fans over the years.

In Jamison's view, the album provides "a really cool capture of where we were at that time."

"It was a lot of new songs," he said. "We were in a real deal studio, taking our time but not as much time as we would want kind of thing. We could still be in there if we were trying to correct every mistake."

Jamison said he was happy with how the album came out, except for the mistakes he made.

"I played perfect on the album," said Richardson.

"I wouldn't agree with that," said Jamison.

Scaggs, Richardson and Jamison were listening to classical piano and setting up their gear for rehearsal Sunday during the interview. Richardson was setting up a new pedal board and his band mates were taking bets on whether he would get it to work on the first configuration. The task involved many wires.

Scaggs said he hopes the CD release show is going to offset some of the printing and packaging costs he and Jamison paid for out of pocket. Those two started the band in 2008. Although the band broke up, it played some gigs over the summer.

In years past, Jatoba performed at The Stone Church to celebrate their first album release, Halloween and New Year's Eve. They would rent out the space before renovations were made and it became a venue. That history, Scaggs said, made the venue the obvious choice for where the show would be held. Band members expect fans to come from New York, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Maine.

Scaggs said "Last Man Standing" marked a new, more mature chapter in the band's career. It will be available on iTunes, Spotify and CD Baby. Members of western Massachusetts-based Primate Fiasco and other regional bands played on some songs.

"It was inspired by doing shows with bands like The Infamous Stringdusters and Greensky Bluegrass," said Scaggs.

He said contributors to the Kickstarter campaign can pick up their CDs or other merchandise owed to them at the show. Otherwise, they will be sent the album via the mail.

Richardson said the first album "Death, Fire and Picnic Tables" was recorded over a weekend in Rochester, N.Y. The latest offering took six or seven months and several different sessions.

"It's really apparent if you compare the two," Richardson said. "With the first one, you know it was a wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am kind of thing. You can hear the difference."

Jatoba had won 20 hours of free studio time after winning a competition for bands and used it for recording "Last Man Standing." The Gaslight Tinkers bassist Garrett Sawyer engineered the album, which featured local fiddle player Phil Bloch who will perform with Jatoba on Saturday.

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com, at @CMaysBR on Twitter and 802-254-2311, ext. 273








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