Snakebeard Jackson
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Snakebeard Jackson

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Sean McFarland, one of Snakebeard Jackson’s merry, fun-loving alt-rock folksters, says the local band will be heading to Minnesota’s Pachyderm Studios (where the likes of Nirvana, Soul Asylum and Babes in Toyland have recorded) in June to record its first full-length album.

He says the project will be focusing on the band’s new, unreleased material – of which, he says, there’s enough to make three albums. This will be a single release, but there could be one familiar track carried over from the group’s raw, but satisfying EP.

“We’re talking about one. And it’s to make it more radio friendly,” McFarland says.

Snakebeard could tease you with some of its new songs during a 4/20 celebration at the Lava Lounge on, duh, April 20. The Quaker City Night Hawks will open the show. Expect lots of facial hair on stage and in the crowd.

Link to article:

http://blogs.argusleadermedia.com/link/uncategorized/scene-scuttlebutt-snakebeard-slithering-into-the-studio.html - Sioux Falls Argus Leader


MUSIC

By Robert Morast

Top five albums

1. "Eisenhauer," A-Def
Easily the year's best. With help from his Soulcrate boys, A-Def's first solo disc captured the mood and spirit of the city's youth with bold lyrics that call out city institutions and ask for judicial justice. A-Def's set is brave, inspiring and necessary in a city that often praises empty art.

2. "Welcome Home Nora," Private Drive
Chaos and beauty clash on this emotional, energetic disc from the city's top young rock band. It's screamo, but you don't need to have a cathartic breakdown to dig it.

3. "Snakebeard Jackson," Snakebeard Jackson
Roots rock and country unite on this record and show the promise of a band that always sounds like it's full of smiling guys who drink Schlitz.

4. "Leftists Unite," The Scarbrough Affair
Scene legend Rich Show has called Dave Scarbrough one of the best songwriters in South Dakota. After hearing this well-produced record - a stylistic flashback to '80s alt rock - Show isn't wrong.

5. "Nearly a Thousand Miles," The Red Unsaid
It's tough to determine if this soft rock disc sounds like a break-up album or a make-out record. Either way, its touching melodies are easy to relate to, regardless of interpretation.

Honorable mention: "After the Sun," After the Sun; "A Traffic Light Malfunction," The Glass Atlantic; "Things to Come," Truth & Adapt; "Smoke & Mirrors," Smoke & Mirrors
- Argus Leader


Snakebeard Jackson's music pays homage to the losers

by Robert Morast
rmorast@argusleader.com

In many ways, the music of Snakebeard Jackson is like the hair on the band member's faces.

Its gritty, sparse, stark, natural, kind of wild and completely sincere. What you hear, or see, is it. No apologies. No pretension. And no razors.

Well, maybe a little bit of razon. We don't want this Sioux Falss quartet to become the North Country's equivalent of ZZ Top - though that would be kind of cool. Because as it is now, Snakebeard Jackson is a fine group of capable musicians that sounds like its genuinely having fun making music that is sometimes dreary.

"A lot of our songs are about losers," says Joey Fokken, a Snakebeard guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter. I want to hear about the guy who has to hop a train and steal his food and drinks a bunch of wine."

He's talking about guys like Lenny Lecker, a loser and fictional protagonist whom Fokken throws into many of his songs. There's no word if Lecker has a beard, but the guy works for Snakebeard Jackson, a band that doesn't really fit into a particular nook of the local music scene.

"He's breaking laws and breaking rules, but he's going to be alright," says Fokken, who is a former member of The Smokin' Jays.

The same could be said for Snakebeard Jackson, which plays Friday night in the Mad Rock Pub. A relative newcomer in the mish-mash of Sioux Falls music, Snakebeard Jackson is more than beards - in fact, most of the guys have shaved since the photo shoot.

An all original acoustic package, the band sounds like a feisty folf-country group that has been sanded-down by the forlorn legacy of the blues. Its enough to add a depressing authenticity to songs about losers.

In other words, its great beer drinking music that isn't afraid to kick up the pace for a dance number - or tell a story.

Aided by the misadventures of Lecker, the Snakebeard catalog is full of songs that could pass as written stories. Some rant on about the ritual of train-hopping. Others lament Lecker's lack of luck for virtually anything in life. But overall the music paints a picture that isn't confined to Sioux Falls. Whether its the chugging rhythms - aided by an upright bass guitar - or lyrics that have imaginative powers, the songs fill the head with images and ideas more extensive than the PA systems at area bars.

Perhaps such vision is what allows Snakebeard Jackson to pull off a rare Sioux Falls double dip. The band's music manages to appeal to both young hipsters and the middle-aged biker crowds that frequent the Sidewinder Bar.

We've had anyone from age 21 to, like, my grandma come to a show," says drummer Matt McFarland, a former skin pounder for hardcore groups like Sinking Steps...Rising Eyes and Caligari.

"I think what people respond to is the drive and energy," Fokken says.

And, yes, while the band name was inspired by a plant called "snakebeard," the name has become slang for those lesser beards that try so hard to be burly.

In hopes of chronicling this nascent segment of the facial hair anthropology, the band has reserved a page on its website, www.snakebeardjackson.com, to catalog other snakebeards.

"You know, not everyone's blessed to grow out a good beard," McFarland says. "Its a snakebeard."
- Argus Leader


Discography

Snakebeard Jackson - EP
Snakebeard Jackson - The Burl

Several streaming tracks on our myspace page from the The Burl.

Photos

Bio

Snakebeard Jackson is a union of Bluegrass, Rock, Country and Blues. Comprised of six members with musical tastes as varied as their creative contributions, Snakebeard is host to a thundering stand up bass, a drummer that hits like a heavyweight, the state's finest washboard player, a high-energy mandolin player and a vocal/guitar team that strums, sings and screams the blues. In promotion of their new EP, Snakebeard has built a large and loyal fanbase live in concert as well as online. The sound is old and new. The songwriting hinges on the plight of fighters and the struggles of the losers that win in the end.

Snakebeard Jackson has played in front of thousands of fans in South Dakota and Minnesota. From Yankton to Mankato. From Brookings to Vermillion and many Sioux Falls nights.

Joey Fokken, lead guitar player and one of the vocalists, is a natural tone vender and practiced string bender, a songsmith, stagehand, and feedback destroyer, Joey lends a helping hand to the vocals, solo's and sounds at Snakebeard shows. An unlikely disciple of the blues, knowing only a few scales, Joey does what he can with the few tools in his box. An old Gibson, a new Gibson and a middle-aged Martin make up his small six string army. A student of the guitar since age eleven, Joey traded his hair band heros for the tastes and influences of Tom Waits, Morphine, Social Distortion and the Rolling Stones. When he is asked about how to best enjoy a Snakebeard Jackson show, Joey says the following: "The more you drink the better we sound, the better we sound the more you dance, the more you dance the better we play. It's a cycle, really."

Sean McFarland’s interests delve into the naturals. From being an organic farmer to a goat herder to the rhythm guitarist and one of the vocalists of Snakebeard, his life experiences shaped the music that he brings to the band. From his earthy guitar tone to his sometimes downright dirty vocals, his wild-borne soul always shines through. Sean’s early musical ventures included punk rock, hardcore metal, and psychedelic rock. In college, a conflict with Sean’s landlord motivated him to find a quieter instrument, switching from electric to acoustic guitar. This provoked a musical revelation for him and directed his folk-influenced path from there on.

Matt McFarland is the driving force behind Snakebeard Jackson. He is in no way, shape, or form, related to that scoundrel Sean McFarland. Just kidding, they're cousins but you'd think they're brothers. In a mostly folk oriented band, his frenetic drumming style is what lends the rock and roll to Snakebeard Jackson. Although Matt, like Sean, comes from a musical past such as punk rock and heavy metal, these influences only contribute to the powerful rhythms that Snakebeard creates.

Charles is a mandolin picker who strives for passionate musicanship. He screams, sweats, cries and dances his way across the stage at every show. He may be the finest mandolin player in South Dakota. He is certainly the one with the most heart.

A life long string player, Travis began his musical career playing, of all things, the violin. Guitar also intrigued him in the upcoming years, but both served only as gateway instruments to the bass. Initially playing in his high school orchestra, and then dropping funky grooves in a jazz band, Travis had a very traditional start to his sub-harmonic studies. His philosophy soon changed turning him into the low end theorist he is today. Drawing on insparado from all muscial eras and genres, his influences range from The Beatles to Vivaldi, from Wu Tang to Hank Williams, and damn near everything in between. He and his bull-fiddle bring the sound and the fury wherever they go. For theirs is the power, the kingdom and glory, forever and ever.

It was in a friend's basement jam session where Jesse first picked up an old National Lingerie washboard and the rhythms started ringing. After a successful stint as the rhythm man in the Blueglass Band and The Missouri River Old Time Champions, Jesse signed on with Snakebeard Jackson. He adds the magic touch to every song he plays. He has tried Tin, Brass, Glass, and Zinc style boards to get his sound. Jesse also adds a little low end to the drums by beating the skins on the congas and other hand drums. Jesse's fanbase in the band could be described as a cult following. He loves the music and enjoys for the crowd's cheers each weekend.