Music

Not your father's acoustic-guitar music

The Jon Stickley Trio brings a hard-to-describe energy to newgrass genre

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The gypsy jazz, bluegrass, newgrass and sometimes folk punk Jon Stickley Trio is described by Guitar Player Magazine as a "genre-defying and cinematic instrumental trio, whose deep grooves, innovative flatpicking, and sultry-spacy violin moves the listener's head, heart, and feet. It's not your father's acoustic-guitar music ... Stickley's Martin [guitar] churns out a mixture of bluegrass, Chuck Berry, metal, prog, grunge, and assorted other genres--all thoroughly integrated into a personal style."

Musician Jon Stickley said this is the most significant year yet for the trio named after him. They are on a three and a half week cross-country jag with Taos toward the tail end of the tour. Stickley said the band had played the Taos Mesa Brewery before. "We love the weird UFO-inspired vibe of the venue. Taos has extraordinary energy; it's magical."

The band returns for a Tuesday (April 17) show at 6 p.m. at the Taos Mesa Brewing Mothership, 20 ABC Mesa Road, off U.S. 64 west.

"It's an intense time in the world, and our music is a little rebellious," Jon Stickley said about his music. "I've got a punk ethos about music and things that happen in the world affect what I write."

He said he has seen "an increase in people getting more tuned in to a grassroots-word-of-mouth way of finding out what's happening and a return to the roots of Americana." He cites the early influences on his music, starting with grunge and Nirvana, which he was listening to in middle school.

Later, he discovered bluegrass through a banjo-playing friend, and the trio has been the next natural progression. His most significant influences as a musician and songwriter are David Grissom and guitarist Tony Rice.

The trio lineup was a consistent duo for its first six years with frontman Stickley and fiddler Lyndsay Pruett. That all changed earlier this year with the addition of drummer Hunter Deacon, who Stickley says brings fresh ideas and is "more improvisational and slightly jazzy."

Deacon is both classically trained and boasts heavy jazz influences. Hailing from Knoxville, Tennessee, Hunter studied with drummer Keith Brown and received a degree in studio music and jazz from the University of Tennessee.

Deacon went on to complete a six-month residency at a jazz club in Hangzhou, China. He has played with Scott Miller and the Commonwealth, toured the country with Sam Lewis and performed with guitarist and composer Mike Baggetta.

The trio's performance at this year's Savannah Stopover Festival was named, "One of the most buzzed-about shows" by American television's Kevin Wierzbicki on the AXS Channel. Wierzbicki said, "The trio played a hopped-up set of jazzy violin-driven tunes that often recalled the frenetic side of jazz fusion violinist Jon Luc Ponty. Pruett and Stickley played so hard at times that their technique could rightfully be called 'shredding,' and some fans at the front of the crowd occasionally broke out their mosh pit moves."

They have released two full-length albums and one EP in the past few years, and been on tour every year since. They met as backup musicians at a gig in Asheville, North Carolina nearly a decade ago.

"The trio feels fresher and hotter than ever," Stickley said. "We've hit our stride in terms of creating tunes that are uniquely us, and that's a really exciting place to be musically. Not to mention we are so stoked to get back to many of our favorite festivals and clubs, and even more excited to play some the ones we've always dreamed of; 2018 will, without a doubt, be our best year yet!"

Stickley said he loves touring because "It gives you a very specific buzz. As you move forward through moments of extreme intensity, pure bliss, sheer emergency, straight-up exhaustion, extreme caffeination, some sadness, some loneliness, lots of happines, and long periods of nothing at all, you become a little numb, yet your sense of awareness and perception becomes heightened.

"It might be kinda like how you feel after going from a hot spring into the cold river and back again. At a certain point, you don't really notice either, but you feel really good."

The band plans to stay at The Abominable Snow Mansion in Arroyo Seco, so they can mingle with the locals, visit the hot springs and enjoy some ice cream at The Taos Cow. "We try to live a balanced life on the road," he said.

Stickley added that Taos can expect a high energy, creatively charged show. "It's going to be the best thing going on in town on a Tuesday night."

Not bad for a $5 cover charge. For more, call the venue at (575) 758-1900 or visit taosmesabrewing.com.

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