The writing is on the wall - DJS can shred.David Jacobs-Strain sings the blues like he's personally experienced them and channels blues greats like Skip James, Charlie Patton and Tommy Johnson. His fingers slide effortlessly over the fret board of his guitar while he picks at the strings with rapid-fire efficiency. But Jacobs-Strain is only 25 and he grew up in Eugene. So, while he may not be the first image that pops into your head when you think blues, he's definitely leading the way for this generation's blues scene.
"I've always been drawn to the trance-oriented, heavier, Delta blues-to the driving, passionate, raw, distraught sound of somebody like Son House," said Jacobs-Strain in his biography. The young blues performer has just released his seventh - yes, seventh - album entitled Liar's Day, produced by legendary bassist and recording guru Kenny Passarelli. If the politically charged title track doesn't draw you in with its catchy melody and funky edge, you'll be enticed by "Rainbow Junkies," a track laved with driving steel guitar riffs and Eastern-sounding breaks.
The song "Walkin' Blues" showcases the artist's skill and goes well with his soulful vocals. "Alright, let's play the blues," says Jacobs-Strain towards the end of the song. He then proceeds to shoot off a succession of notes while strumming at Hendrix's "Machine Gun" pace before slowing back down.
Jacobs-Strain has earned a reputation as a killer live performer in Central Oregon, making the trip across the mountains at least once a year to give us a taste of what he's up to before shooting off across the country on one of his trademark marathon tours. His stop in Sisters next week is in the middle of a coast-to-coast jaunt that has him booked steady through the end of the year between California and Maine and everywhere in between. When Jacobs-Strain is onstage and dealing out his acoustic and steel guitar bravado, it becomes clear why he played Seattle's Folklife Festival at age 12 and at 15 was the youngest faculty member on record at the Port Townsend workshop.
Still delightfully young, Jacobs-Strain has built a nationwide reputation for seamlessly intertwining blues and rock to create a sound that's uniquely his own. Those unfamiliar with Jacobs-Strain might not buy into the idea of a 25-year-old bluesman serving as reason enough to drive out to Sisters, but he's worth the $4.50 per gallon.
7pm Thursday, July 24, Angeline's Bakery, 121 W Main St, Sisters. 549-9122. All ages. $12.