Black Jake & the Carnies / Jack & the Bear / Libby DeCamp
Fri, May 12, 2017 @ 8:00 pm to 2:00amView event on Facebook
“The idea for Black Jake and the Carnies came to Jake in 1999, when he had an ecstatic vision of a band playing fast-paced music on traditional instruments, full of entertaining gimmicks, props, and crowd interaction,” says the band. “The original incarnation of the band started in 2002, and played one disastrous Halloween Show before breaking up. Jake kept the vision alive and kept writing songs over the next four years until one day in 2006 he decided to get a band back together. A few guys who knew some guys down the street eventually turned into a new Black Jake & the Carnies overnight.”
The band, comprised of Black Jake (banjo, vocals, songwriting), Gus Wallace (fiddle), Andy Benes (mandolin, backing vocals), Jumpin’ Joe Cooter (bass), Billy “the Kingpin” LaLonde (percussion, backing vocals), and J.C. Miller (accordion, backing vocals), are six hard-working men from Ypsi who wallow in the imagery of sideshows and carnivals. “When you grow up in a small town, you have hair down your back and everyone’s a redneck, you get called a freak a lot,” Jake told Detroit’s Metro Times in 2011. “So I get attracted to the outcasts, the freaks, being somebody who’s on display.”
He’s not wrong. When Black Jake & the Carnies played a prison show in Belgium as part of the Belgium/Netherlands/Germany tour in 2011, the touring company said that they were the only band they’d ever seen who got the prisoners to jump up out of their seats and dance. And everybody knows how hard convicts are to please.
Since the band’s formation, it has played with artists and groups as varied and prestigious as Split Lip Rayfield, Joe Buck, Tommy Ramone, Jayke Orvitz, Langhorn Slim, Greensky Bluegrass, Frontier Ruckus, the Real McKenzies, Slim Cessna’s Auto Club, O’Death, and the Meatmen. In addition, the band has performed at respected festivals and events like Theatre Bizarre, the Beaver Island Music Fest (three times), Muddy Roots, and the Wheatland Music Fest (twice). The Theatre Bizarre appearance in 2010 also represents the biggest crowd that the band has played to, coming in at 2500. “Theatre Bizarre was closed down that year, so they moved it to the Fillmore on 36 hours-notice,” says the band. “We ended up closing out the night on the big stage, and finished up playing with a stage full of people (including the Detroit Party Marching Band, lots of side show folks and burlesque dancers).”
Allmusic said that, “While the band’s music, a combination of Jake’s smartly penned originals along with the odd ’80s pop cover, certainly stands on its own, Black Jake & the Carnies’ stage performances combine audience-participation carnival games, periodic spinning of a wheel of fortune/misfortune, some pretty outrageous costumes, and enough raw energy to jump-start a Volkswagen. Jake’s banjo is even adorned with colored blinking lights. Yes, this is a band that knows how to have a good time and has fun doing so.”
Greg Molitor of Music Marauders said, “The bluegrass/folk/insanity theme works really well for these Carnies! Black Jake and Carnies was hands down the most energetic, wild, and flat-out enjoyable set of the entire weekend. I was a skeptic at first, but as soon as I saw the first Carnie jump from a 10 ft. speaker to the stage WITH HIS INSTRUMENT, I was sold. Sign me up for the next circus please!?”
Jeff Milo of iSPY Magazine said, “All the Carnies cut rugs like pure bottled lightning, they don’t play so much as they gracefully pummel, they pinball, even, from song # 1 to song #13 ½ …or however long their sweaty sets go. Set aside their eclectic music, the Carnies’ blend spindly bluegrass and honky-tonk croons to some psychobilly-bent for punk-spat pirouetting; swampy yet sophisticated, old timey like a jukebox’s warble but warped and shoved and shunted with a rock n’ roll romp.”
Jack & the Bear: Have you ever had the feeling that music just isn’t what it used to be anymore? Tired of the standard run of the mill bands? Have you ever felt like your life is lacking in luster, and needs a good, swift kick in the rear to reveal a new, yet familiar flavor of unique musical perspective, sound and energy? Well then, look no further… Discover, Jack and the Bear.
Jack and the Bear is a folk rock/roots act from lower east Michigan with vaudevillian tendencies (see the live show.) Conjoured up of three siblings and close friends, the group’s sound can be related to that of Tom Waits, Felice Brothers, C.W. Stoneking, Bruce Springsteen, Randy Newman, and Disney Soundtracks.
Throughout their time as a self-managed (DIY) band, “Jack” have performed at noteworthy music festivals (Bristol Rhythm and Roots, The Frendly Gathering, Nashville PAW Fest…etc), recorded with Grammy award winning artists, engineers and producers (Oz fritz, Doug Sax, Mooka Rennick, Sam Bardfeld), had multiple works placed and aired on hit Viacom network programs such as MTV’s Catfish & Teen Mom, formed their own recording studio niche in their hometown of Monroe, MI and have enjoyed the past few years touring extensively across the U.S. anywhere they can to spread the word of “Jack” referring to themselves as “The greatest thing you’ll ever see, probably.”
The classic question: “Who’s Jack and who’s the Bear?”
The not so classic answer: Jack is a cockerspaniel owned by the lead trumpet player (Christina) and Bear is an acronymn representing the first four original members of the outfit. (B:Brandon, E:Evan, A:Adam, R:Ryan (Reggie)
Libby DeCamp: Out from the quiet orchards of Romeo, Michigan, Libby DeCamp has spent an adolescence in close companionship with bodies of music and literature, among hinterlands of horses and history. Driven by a will to connect on a raw, human level and stir to compassionate action, she began writing and playing songs in her early teens under several different outfits, namely Michigan folk duo, “The DeCamp Sisters.” After its dissolve in spring of 2015, she has harnessed experience and verve into a new sound to be shared. Honeyed vocals ride atop of banjo and guitar-led ballads, chanties, toe-tappers, and blues propelled by unconventional percussion and accent instruments with a ragtime-era warmth. Steeped in the rich cuttings of American roots music and sprigs of inspiration from the curiosities of man and nature, Libby delivers a heartfelt and engaging live performance with passionate, playful relevance to causes both near and dear, and dusty bygones. Dabbling in an array of genres, the soundscape is captivating; innocently dark and best described as “Broken Folk.”
Within the first year of establishment, she has performed within her home state rigorously, set out on two US tours, and recorded a six-song EP titled “Cross Sections,” released in March, 2016. Grammy award-winning producer Oz Fritz (Tom Waits, The Ramones, Raul Malo) notes; “The warm sound and seductive grooves of Cross Sections makes you want to listen, it draws the attention in…” Becoming an alt-roots staple of the Detroit, MI scene, Libby travels on, absorbing inspiration and connection for the makings of her full-length debut album. “Cross Sections” is now available on all major music platforms.