Max Maksimik: Last time John Reishmann and the Jaybirds were on the East Coast was in 2013. It’s great having you back three years later, but I wish it wasn’t so long between shows!
John Reischmann: We’re very happy to be returning to the East Coast for some concerts, including the Freshgrass on the 18th and the Friday night concert at the Unitarian Fellowship Hall in Poughkeepsie on the 16th. And I was just thinking about playing at the Town Crier in Poughkeepsie 35 years ago when I was on tour with the with the Tony Rice Unit, so it’s good to be playing back here 35 years later.
The Jaybirds have been together for about 15, 16 years. We live and mostly tour out West so it’s great to have a good opportunity to see the fans we do have out here and hopefully make some new ones, but most of our 15 years has been spent on the West Coast, the Rockies and the Western Provinces of Canada with a few trips out East.
Max: Tell us a little bit about the Jaybirds– the members of the band are all strong performers and leaders in their own right.\
John: It’s not John Reischmann and his back up band, and by design I wanted to be in a bluegrass band where everyone was featured. I kind of have a final say about a lot of the material we do, but I’m certainly open to suggestions they have or things they bring along. For the most part, once the band settled and they realized what sort of sound I was going for they only introduced material that I thought would work. I like to have everyone featured– you know, I don’t get featured much more than anyone else, but — ; I make sure there’s a mandolin solo on every song! (laughs)
Max: Whatever it is, it’s working. You all really seem to enjoy playing together.
John: Yeah, the same 5 people have been playing together for 15 years for a reason. We’re, I think, mature musicians and we get along, you know, just spending time together. And the musical sense, the sense of time, is very consistent from player to player. It’s unique in that there are two lead singers. Trisha (Gagnon) has kind of a low voice for a woman, and Jim (Nunally) has kind of a high voice — well, not high for Bluegrass — but typically a high male voice, so it’s a nice contrasting lead, and then I’ll sing the third part on trios. Then we have some quartet with Nick singing bass; we’ve been exploring that more and more with gospel material. And then instrumentally — that’s kind of how the band started, because of my CD called Up in the Woods, which is all instrumental and I wanted to put together a group to feature those songs. Trisha was the first to join, a little before Jim, and I played with her some in British Columbia and she’s got a fantastic voice and Jim’s a wonderful singer too. So we got the instrumental stuff covered and the vocal harmony sound is unique.