By Elizabeth Sias
Siloa Lutheran’s next Music & Pie Concert Series is fast approaching, and this time local bluegrass group, The Barley Jacks, will perform.
Frontman Brian Wicklund and his bandmates will take the stage Sunday, Aug. 28, at 3 p.m. at Siloa Lutheran Church in Braham.
Doors open at 2:30 p.m. The concert is free, with a free-will offering accepted, with all proceeds given to the performers.
The Barley Jacks consists of four members — Wicklund on fiddle, Joe Cruz on guitar, Kevin Rowe on bass, and Joel Arpin doing percussion, with primarily Wicklund and Cruz covering vocals — for what Wicklund describes as “progressive bluegrass with Celtic and swing roots.”
“I look forward to every gig with these guys,” he said. “They’re all fabulous improvisers, and they’re all really good listeners — they listen to what’s going on and they react to it, so every show is different.”
The group formed about a year-and-a-half ago when Wicklund was playing shows and had a recommendation for Cruz as a guitar player. Cruz then recommended percussionist Arpin, and Wicklund found the bassist in the crew painting his house.
They have one album out now titled Either Side of Night, and another due out this fall. As of now, all the band’s shows have been in the upper Midwest, but Wicklund said they have a business plan and a great agent, so they’re looking to expand next year.
Wicklund started playing classical violin when he was seven and first heard fiddle music when he was 10.
“It was like a button being pushed,” he said. “I just thought it was really cool.”
His dad started teaching himself banjo, and the two of them attended fiddle contests and bluegrass festivals in the area. He didn’t have a formal teacher, so Wicklund brought a cassette recorder to every show, talking to fiddle players and have them teach him something new.
While Wicklund can still play classical violin, he doesn’t focus on it and enjoys playing fiddle more.
“Fiddle players do all of their playing by ear, and almost all of their learning by ear,” he said. “Bluegrass fiddle players are good improvisers.”
Wicklund also teaches fiddle and mandolin at camps throughout the U.S., U.K., Canada and Sweden. He is a founder and contributor to Bluegrass College. It’s difficult for the fiddler to describe what he enjoys most about creating music.
“It’s kind of like ‘what do you like most about breathing’ for me. It’s such an important part of my life, I can’t really imagine what it would be like without it,” he said. “Being able to express myself through music is a wonderful thing.”
For more information about The Barley Jacks, visit www.barleyjacks.com. For more information on the Music & Pie Concert Series call Pat Schonhardt at 718-749-6341.