The Crooked Jades are on a mission to revive some of America’s oldest music. Aficionados of “old-time” music, the members of this Bay Area band perform their own take on rural folk music from the days before radio. Spark catches up with The Crooked Jades as they prepare to leave on their European tour.
Old-time music is a branch of American roots music that originated in the South, mostly around Kentucky and Georgia, and extended north as far as New England. Its base is a mixture of folk songs and instrumentation that go back to the country’s earliest settlers. Old-time music was instrumental to the folk revival of the 1960s, and it’s currently enjoying a renewed interest among young and old audiences alike. The Crooked Jades are amongst a number of old-time bands that have sprung up across the country in recent years in an effort to revitalize this rich heritage.
For Crooked Jades bandleader Jeff Kazor, old-time music offers a way to connect today’s world with the country’s earliest days — the songs evoke conjure common feelings of alienation and suffering. As the chief songwriter of the band, Kazor finds his inspiration by listening to old recordings and selecting songs to rediscover and reinterpret. The band then convenes to practice the new tunes in Kazor’s kitchen.
Kazor is fond of the spontaneous nature of old-time music’s instrumentation, which was often determined more by availability than by musical considerations. At a time when instruments were scarce and expensive, an old-time band made do with jugs, washboards, washtubs and spoons.
The Crooked Jades are Jeff Kazor (guitar/ukulele); Jennie Benford (mandolin/guitar), of Jim & Jennie & the Pinetops; Adam Tanner (fiddle/mandolin); Megan Adie (bass); and Seth Folsom (banjo/slide guitar). The band has toured across the United States and Europe and plays regularly in California. The Crooked Jades’ releases can be found on independent label Copper Creek Records and on their own label, Jade Note Music.