Americana Roots: Cris Jacobs Band


Americana Roots is a new feature here on AUK which highlights the freshest and most original Americana and bluegrass from across the pond in the US. It covers everything from brand-new, just out of the box bands, to cult favourites, to established acts who have yet to reach the UK’s shores.  This week, the Cris Jacobs Band, who is a timeless journey down the highway of Americana roots music delivered with subtle hints of Clarksdale blues, Memphis soul, and a swampy Southern guitar.

Name: Cris Jacobs Band.

For Fans of: Jason Isbell, Little Feat, Ry Cooder.

Hometown: Baltimore, Maryland, USA.

Band Members: Cris Jacobs (guitar, vocals), Todd Herrington (bass), Dusty Ray Simmons (drums), Corey Wells (guitar), Ben White (keys)


Discography:  ‘Songs for Cats & Dogs’ (2012), ‘Dust to Gold’ (2016), ‘Color Where Are You Are’ (2019)

Background:  Since the dissolution of beloved roots-rockers, The Bridge, in 2011, who Cris Jacobs led for a decade, he has established himself as a powerful songwriter, performer, and bandleader with the formation of the Cris Jacobs Band.  In their music you hear subtle hints of Clarksdale blues and Memphis Soul delivered with a swampy, southern guitar line and a lyrical ferocity that echoes the heart of Highway 61.  Those subtle hints take shape in his dynamic songwriting that gets right to the soul of American music with his storyteller’s eye, passionate guitar, and expressive voice that produces soulful music which defies easy categorization.

His music has a commanding presence no matter how he presents it; either in a simple, stripped-down, setting, with nothing more than an acoustic guitar to support his well-worn, compellingly, honest voice – a voice that has been compared to the southern-fried, gravely, timbre of Lowell George – or with the Cris Jacobs Band that finds that same commanding presence in song fleshed out into a rootsy, groove that seems to explode from the past with its timeless quality.

As a songwriter Jacobs has contributed to a number of albums including the Grammy nominated ‘If You Can’t Stand the Heat’ from Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen and The Blind Boys of Alabama ‘Almost Home’.  As a guitarist he was recently invited to be part of the Grateful Dead’s Phil Lesh’s band for a number of shows. But it is as a bandleader of the Cris Jacobs Band that Jacobs is at his best.

Following the end of The Bridge in 2011, Jacobs formed the Cris Jacobs Band and released their debut album ‘Songs for Cats & Dogs’ the following year.  The band’s lineup was fluid for the first few years of existence, before settling on the steady rhythm section of bassist Todd Herrington and drummer Dusty Ray Simmons, and guitarist Johnathan Sloane.  The band followed with the release of ‘Dust to Gold’ in 2016 and ‘Color Where You Are’ in 2019.  Sloane left following the release of ‘Color Where You Are’ and was replaced by guitarist Corey Wells and keyboardist Ben White.

All three of the Cris Jacobs Band’s albums capture the intensity of their live shows where the band plays with an adventurous musical spirit that is powered by Jacobs thoughtful songwriting and buoyed with an intelligent spirituality.  For Jacobs this is born from a simply stated goal, “to always play emotionally and in the moment.”

What They Do Live:

About Tim Newby 59 Articles
Author of books, writer of words, enjoyer of good times. Often found with a beer in hand and barefoot at a festival somewhere. Author of 'Bluegrass in Baltimore: The Hard Drivin' Sound & Its Legacy' (2015), 'Leftover Salmon: Thirty Years of Festival! (2019). New book 'Pete Browning: The Life & Troubled Times of a Forgotten Legend' due out in 2023. Follow him on twitter @Tim_Newby9 .
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The author of this post, Tim Newby, personally turned me on to Cris Jacobs a few years ago. I am forever grateful for that introduction. (And of course Ben for introducing me to Tim.)
Great article. The vibe that Jacobs gives is body-shaking. Tim, as always, your description is dead on. Looking forward to reading upcoming posts!