Jackalope are a three-piece blues rock band consisting of Jonah Stead on vocals and guitar, Alasdair Gauld on keys and Alistair Harrison on drums. First emerging as a concept in a charity fundraising concert in the Academy, they went on to perform at Orkney Live Aid in Matchmakers for the Philippines earthquake disaster appeal where they were talent-spotted and booked to perform in the county’s first exclusively “rock” festival in the Kirkwall Sailing Club. There, the trio upped the energy and took on a more aggressive style, which suited the event with a significant proportion of metal-heads in witness. Most recently, the lads played the Blues Festival, where they gained yet more connections in their most successful gigs to date playing in venues across Stromness including The Royal, the Stromness Hotel and the Ferry Inn.
The name Jackalope is that of the Native American mythical creature – a magical rabbit with deer antlers attributed with benevolent and dangerous qualities depending on the myth’s interpretation. The band prides itself with playing mostly original material and their own unique spin on classic blues standards. They hope to release their debut E.P imminently.
Jonah is the band’s frontman and principal songwriter. Following the break-up of the fast but bright-burning MCTB he embarked on a solo career where he honed his composition and technical skills, performing primarily for an internet audience on the audio-sharing site Soundcloud where he gained a small but dedicated following. His influences include Jack White, the Doors and classic blues artists. His guitar playing style is forceful and peppered with signature flourishes and motifs, while at the same time incorporating delicate picking, finger-work and interesting jazzy chords.
Alasdair, the piano man, keeps it cool in the back, casually keeping it all together in the absence of a bassist. He makes use of the entire range of his 88 keys in spiralling solos. Classical influences can clearly be heard amongst all the jazzy noodling, which gives a dimension of grandeur to the three-piece outfit. Sometimes he switches to organ, which is always nice to hear, given the keyboard’s capability of producing an adequate drawbar sound. A personal highlight is the flange effect, adding a sci-fi feel to particular songs.
Harrison is the latest addition to the band, joining to complete the group’s current line up at the Orkney Rock Festival, where the additional dynamic was required. He provides drive and extra energy to an already highly enthusiastic group. The addition of a drummer really elevates the sound, particularly in the newer, heavier songs – effectively increasing the contrast and the extremes of crescendo and diminuendo.
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