Americana Roots: George Jackson

Americana Roots 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.  New Zealand born, Nashville based fiddler George Jackson is a timeless, old-time tune you know intimately delivered with a sense of freshness and vitality that provides new life.

Name: George Jackson.

For Fans Of: Michael Cleveland, Patrick McAvinue, Becky Buller.

Hometown: Nashville, Tennessee, USA.


Discography: ‘Time & Place’ (2019)

Background: Traveling has been a way of life for fiddler George Jackson, who was born to musician parents in Christchurch, New Zealand.  He spent the better part of his childhood living and touring around in a house bus with his family band. An avid student of American fiddle styles, Jackson eventually made his way to the hub of American roots music, Nashville, Tennessee where he now lives.  He settled into a music scene that featured peers and friends including Tatiana Hargreaves, John Mailander, Nokosee Fields, Kaitlyn Raitz, Tristan Scroggins, Wes Corbett, and Jake Blount.  “One of the great things about moving to the US for me has been being surrounded by all these people who are pushing the boundaries in their fields and just making great music constantly,” says Jackson.  “I feel like there’s something to learn from everyone who is a working musician over here, and it’s inspiring how hard everyone is pushing. So, I definitely take a lot of inspiration and guidance from the people around me, many of whom I’m lucky enough to get to spend time with and see regularly.”

For Jackson, music is all about melodies, diving deep into tradition, but at the same time not denying that he is from somewhere else and brings a new perspective and set of life experiences to the traditional sound he loves so much.  He says, “I love writing new music, and I love old music, so what I end up making is somewhere in between the two.”

On his debut album ‘Time and Place’, released in 2019, he does just that, offering up a collection of original fiddle tunes, which reflect an uncannily deep understanding of American roots traditions, while remaining entirely true to his own musical and personal identity.  The album features a number of renowned young bluegrass and roots musicians from the region, including Jackson’s long time collaborator Andrew Small, Charm City Junction’s Brad Kolodner, Mark Kilianski of Hoot and Holler, and Mandolin Orange’s Andrew Marlin.  Each track on the album is named for its time and place of composition, and traces Jackson’s journey from New Zealand to ten years spent in Australia touring and performing, to his new life in the United States.

In the midst of 2020 and the pandemic that defined our lives, Jackson like most of us struggled at times.  “I’m not going to deny that it was hard for me to do much during parts of this last year, and seeing some people be really productive was difficult and seemed to make a mockery of the difficulties some were going through,” says the fiddler.  “In saying that, I did manage to finish my new album throughout the last year, so by some measure I suppose I managed to make something happen even though it felt glacial at the time.”  The finished album, that he hopes to release in the fall of this year, is a collection of banjo and fiddle duet featuring seven different banjo players who complement Jackson’s traditional fiddle.

For Jackson his plan going forward is simple.  “I just want to keep playing and exploring great fiddle melodies.  I really want to make a party fiddle band centred around old time fiddle music so I’m hoping to work on that idea in the next few years and make it happen.  But generally I just want to keep diving deeper into fiddle music, writing tunes and connecting with the communities of amazing musicians who I’m lucky to have around me.”

What He Does 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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