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Band Americana Singer/Songwriter


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Jabe Beyer knows it’s a disgusting metaphor before he even brings it up. But bear with him, he pleads.

“I always relate songs to puking,” says the singer-songwriter who leads the acclaimed roots-rocking Boston outfit JABE. “You think you’re gonna puke, you just don’t know when. But when it comes out, you can’t stop it. And you can see all the stuff inside you.” Beyer apologizes when the unsavory moment is over and he’s finished making his very vivid point. It’s one well taken, though. His band’s latest album, “Drama City” (out on his own Woodeye Records label and available at www.jabe.net), can also be heard as a reflex action to the emotional upheaval that afflicted all four members of the group last year. The album, cut mostly live in a three room cabin in Plymouth, also happens to be the best thing he has ever done.

“We made the record in a week and when I listened back I thought, ‘Wow, this is pretty melodramatic,’” says Beyer, who through word of mouth has built a strong local following (and not one but two CD-Release parties, slated to April 4 and 5 at the Lizard Lounge, testify to his popularity).

“Every night you’d go out and people were getting into arguments, couples breaking up, or somebody would get arrested or their car stolen. So to me, Boston was Drama City.” Hapless love affairs, dashed dreams, and fractured friendships all reside inside songs such as the high octane banjo-driven opener “Those Times Are Over,” the Pogues-style jig “Into a Wall,” and the meditative “Pitch Black Road.” But even at its most subdued, Jabe's music is a quiet storm of desire and disillusion. Buried somewhere inside all the bleakness, though, he says, is always a flicker of hope.

“We have a song called ‘Can’t Be That Bad’ and in writing that I was saying, ‘Yeah, it might be like you’re growing up too fast or you’re in the wrong town or you don’t know what the hell you’re doing and your best friend just became somebody you can’t talk to anymore’,” Beyer says. “But if you don’t hold out for that light at the end of the tunnel it’s going to turn on you really fast, and you’re going to go deeper into yourself where it’s dark.”

The native of upstate New York moved from Boston to New Hampshire last year, but his music has never bothered with boundaries. His songs, built from a combustible mix of electrified violin, banjo, mandolin, guitar, and propulsive percussion, is an effortless amalgam of rock, folk, and bluegrass. His band--which includes bass player Jay Aucella, drummer Dave Westner, and multi-instrumentalist Sean Staples—is top-notch, capable of Crazy Horse stomp one moment and Old 97’s swing the next.

Beyer’s warm, earthy voice echoes Bruce Springsteen, and it’s a perfect match for the rustic, hard-won lessons and truths found in Jabe’s songs.

“On the most primal level, I’m just trying to explain myself to myself,” he says before catching himself. “Not that I have the answers to anything.” - THE BOSTON GLOBE

"Are we there yet?"

Jabe Beyer’s albums have only gotten sharper as he’s worked himself backward in time through alt-country and cowpunk until arriving on his fourth album at a moody sort of post-Eagles country-rock. It’s a move that makes the most of his gift for insinuating hooks and lines, his spacious, pedal-steel driven band and a voice that could be described as resembling a postmodern Don Henley. As to the question posed by the album title, the music makes it clear Jabe is already there. Download: “Keep Goin’ Round.” (Appearing tomorrow at the Lizard Lounge, Cambridge.) - THE BOSTON HERALD


Jabe Beyer is the kind of fellow who walks into a room to emphatic shouts of “Hey Jabe!” as he passes by. One could argue that people just like to say “Jabe,” which is actually a nickname.

Pronounced just as it looks, the name bears a familiar quality, like “Abe” or “Babe.” And yet, Jabe is name that most have not come across. The name itself has come to reference a novel musical sound, an easy-going spirit in the tightly wound, results-oriented music scene.
Beyer is always at ease, both in his performances and during casual conversation. It seems almost paradoxical that his new record is entitled Where Are We Going & When Do We Get There. He does not come off as the kind of guy to ask “Are we there yet?” In many ways, it is as if he is already “there.” If not, then he is at least enjoying the ride more than most.
“Everyone wants to get big or whatever,” he concedes. He clearly desires this as well, but he’s not losing sleep any over it. “I’m involved with music,” he states; “I don’t fit well in ...” he pauses; “... boxes.”
Indeed, it would be hard to envision this man, with his Pinball Hero T-shirt and engineer-style cap, working in a cubicle somewhere. Jabe Beyer’s place is clearly in the studio or on the stage, behind the control room glass or leaning up to the microphone. Comfort is the name of the game, and Jabe sits quietly at the table with a drink, rolling a cigarette, as if he invented the word. It’s a warm and lazy afternoon, and Jabe doesn’t have to be anywhere at the present, so he does what he does best — he settles into the situation. All the while, he retains an air of cool good-naturedness, his quiet confidence permeating the entire room.
One thing that Jabe seems to do a lot is ponder. Ask him a question and he’ll turn it over in his brain for a few seconds before speaking. In another life, he could have been a low-powered attorney, one who furtively crafts an airtight case before anyone realizes what is happening. His nature and senses serve him well; he has been able to link up with more than a few artists, affording him opportunities that the average musician never sees. He has toured Europe with both his own band and as a guitarist for other bands. He is involved with a number of groups, and is even credited on Bang Camaro’s MySpace page as a contributing member of the Dude Choir.
For Jabe, Where Are We Going & When Do We Get There is an evolution of sorts. “These are songs that I have played for a long time,” he says. They are expansive, open-windowed entities buoyed by thoughtful vocals. His personality flows through the arteries of each song, creating more than a song of vocals and instruments. The twelve-track record has been forming inside of Jabe for quite a while, and each song exhibits a sense of assured maturity.
A strong flavor of roots-y Americana saturates the record, and Jabe’s well-honed sense of dynamics allows him to create a story out of anything. Whether it’s the “Let’s go!” of opening track “Broken Back Road” or the easy nighttime lope of mid-record track “Both Hands on the Wheel,” Jabe takes the listener on a trip, and at times it even seems as if days and nights elapse over the course of the record.
“Both Hands on the Wheel” is a midnight drive home through lonely roads haunted by the road-ghosts of earlier times. “You Can’t See the Stars from the Inside of a Bar” is a road trip home from a fun night out at the honky-tonk bar. Each song exudes a particular sentiment, as carefully thought out as Jabe’s free-flowing conversation.
While his license reads “Jason Beyer,” it is clear that this man is more suited to “Jabe.” Through brisk storytelling and enlivening performances, Jabe Beyer the man and Jabe the band continue to engage audiences. While others may wonder Where Are We Going & When Do We Get There, Jabe Beyer sits back and rolls a cigarette with the confidence of a man who knows that the answer is different for everyone, with the exception of himself, of course. Turns out he’s already there.


"Sticking To His Roots"

Jabe Beyer and his band Jabe may be bigger stars in Atlanta and Europe than in Boston - their hometown. But that doesn’t bother the alternative country, roots-rock musicians. ‘‘The farther away from home you play, the more fun it is when people come out to see you,’’ Beyer said.

‘‘We’ve played all 50 states, and Europe, but when you play Cambridge, five miles away, it’s not a big deal. When you go in and play Berlin, as an American musician, it adds to the idea you are serious musicians, and there is the feel of an event about it. Our low profile in Boston is just a product of us being around as often as we are; if we played once every three months we could play the Paradise. But since we want to play for a living, we need to play 10 times a month to make the rent, so we will play wherever they want us.’’

Jabe, Beyer’s quartet, will be performing Saturday night at the Lizard Lounge in Cambridge, celebrating the recent release of their fourth album, ‘‘Where are We Going, and When Do We Get There,’’ on Hi-N-Dry Records. Hanson saxman Dana Colley will be part of the quartet.

Beyer is a New York state native who moved to Boston 10 years ago and soon immersed himself in the city’s thriving roots music scene.

‘‘I was in several bands, and into different things musically,’’ Beyer recalled. ‘‘I always gravitated toward more organic music, played on authentic instruments. The more pop music goes to technological aspects, the more I go to those first, original sounds of real music from real people.’’

Gradually, Beyer became a singer/songwriter type, pursuing his craft solo with a guitar. Before long, he’d met a lot of like-minded folks, and formed a band. Not long after, he decided to release his own record, the next logical step in a homegrown career.

‘‘Twenty Point Turn’’ was Beyer’s debut in 2000, with the band he dubbed Jabe (pronounced Jayb, like Gabe).

‘‘I began doing a lot of solo stuff, and got quite a few gigs playing guitar alone,’’ Beyer said.

‘‘Then I hooked onto playing with other people in an environment I could appreciate. I got a band together, and we began playing rock clubs, and then started our own label. We recorded the first album in my house; it was just more cost-effective than going with a record company.’’

Jabe’s first recorded efforts immediately struck a chord with alt-country, or so-called cowpunk fans. It also earned the band the Boston Music Award that year for Outstanding Debut Album. The year 2002 brought ‘‘Outback Country Vampire’’ again on Beyer’s own Woodeye label. By 2004, when ‘‘Drama City’’ came out, the band had a minor deal with Blue Rose Records of Germany. Blue Rose still handles their European rights, but now the Hi-N-Dry label, based in Cambridge, has picked up their U.S. distribution.

Beyer also has a knack for lyrics. His songs are deceptively simple, with images and scenes that resonate immediately. Just the title of one tune, ‘‘You Can’t See the Stars, From the Inside of a Bar,’’ demonstrates how to the point Beyer can be. In fact, the whole new album is almost a theme project, with protagonists in nearly every song looking for something better in their lives. And Jabe delivers with conviction and honesty that adds layers of poignancy to the vignettes.

‘‘I had done a lot of recording since my last CD,’’ Beyer said. ‘‘We took a long time putting this one together, and this batch of songs just seemed to come together naturally. I’d say that ‘You Can’t See the Stars’ is a bittersweet kind of love song. The song ‘Both Hands on the Wheel’ also has that simple, truckin’ down the highway image, looking for the next horizon. That’s just how I feel right now, but I always try to have some hope in there.’’

Produced by Beyer, the new CD was mixed by Paul Q. Kolderie, and features guest spots from guitarist Duke Levine, singer Jennifer Kimball, drummer Billy Beard, Hanson saxophonist Dana Colley of Morphine fame, singer Kris Delmhorst, guitarist Kevin Barry and multi-instrumentalist Jimmy Ryan. That’s practically an all-star team of Beantown’s best roots and acoustic musicians, but Beyer shrugs that they’re simply all friends he’s played with, or backed up over the years.

‘‘The more people get ‘American Idol-ized,’ more into that karaoke bull, the more amazed they are when they hear people playing instruments like baritone sax, mandolin, or even keyboards,’’ Beyer said.

‘‘Musicians have been playing these things for years, but to many Americans today, it is all confusing and new. It is harder to get people out to shows today, no doubt, with so many home entertainment options. And the whole music scene seems to embrace that mentality of cigarettes and booze and music. With smoking out of the equation, and people drinking less, live music is suffering.’’

But Beyer is still optimistic that musicians can find a way to survive, even if, like he and his cohorts, they seem unlikely to ever make MTV.

‘‘The business can be frustrating if you lose touch with who you are supposed to be,’’ Beyer explained. ‘‘I’m not really in the business side of it - that should be someone else’s job. And I’m not in competition with other Boston musicians; it should be an inspiring and supportive community of friends. It’s not that I wouldn’t take the opportunity for a major label deal if it was offered, but I love what I do. I never did it to get on MTV. And, I never play music I don’t like, or got paid to do what I didn’t want to do. And we’ve found that more and more people don’t get their music from what is delivered to them by radio - many people are independent enough to look elsewhere, for more honest, less contrived music.’’ - Patriot Ledger (Mass)


2000 Twenty Point Turn (Woodeye)
Winner of 2000 Boston Music Award for Outstanding Debut Album
2002 Outback Country Vampire (Woodeye)
2004 Drama City (Blue Rose)
2006 Where Are We Going and When Do We Get There (Hi-N-Dry)

The Benders
2000 The Benders (Pig Pile)
2002 The Benders II (Pig Pile)
2003 Mountain Radio (Pig Pile)

* Kris Delmhorst
* Jimmy Ryan
* Dennis Brennan
* Todd Thibaud
* Bow Thayer
* Session Americana
* Jon Nolan

* Jon Nolan
* Tim Gearan
* Nini Camps


Feeling a bit camera shy


Wherever good music is being made in Boston, chances are Jabe Beyer is in on it ~ on the stage, in the studio, or in the audience trying not to fall down.

Winner of the 2006 MusicMakers Songwriter’s competition sponsored by Starbucks and the NEMO Music Conference, his namesake band, JABE, has won the Abe Oleman Songwriting Award from The Songwriting Hall of Fame as well as several Boston Music Awards.

Three self-produced, self-released albums along with extensive U.S. and European tours have earned JABE a reputation as one of Boston’s best and hardest working live acts. Beyer’s side project, The Benders, is a noted alt-country-bluegrass favorite, embraced nationally by the press and a hardcore fanbase. With great songs and honest-to-the-bone live shows, The Boston Globe hailed Beyer as "a leader in the roots music renaissance," and Jam Magazine listed his 2-disc album Drama City at Number 2 in their Best 100 Albums of The Last 10 Years. A multi-instrumentalist, producer and prolific writer, Beyer recently released Where Are We Going & When Do We Get There on Hi-N-Dry records. With the help of Boston’s best musicians and mixed by sonic wizard Paul Q. Kolderie (Radiohead, The Pixies), Where Are We Going & When Do We Get There shows that Beyer has grown beyond his cowpunk past and continues to evolve as an inspired songwriter and musician.