John Reischman and the Jaybirds are playing at the Capitol Theatre on Friday.

Jaybirds set to fly into the Capitol

John Reischman's bluegrass group features world-class mandolinist.

John Reischman and the Jaybirds are coming to the Capitol Theatre this Friday for a night of high-flying bluegrass.

“There are a lot of bands in town, and a great music culture, so we usually get a pretty energetic response from the Nelson crowd. We’ve been coming there since the beginning,” said Reischman. “The Capitol is one of our favourite venues, so we’re pretty excited.”

He will take the stage alongside Jim Nunally on guitar, Greg Spatz on fiddle, Trisha Gagnon on bass and Nick Hornbuckle on banjo. He originally met the ensemble while living in California, and brought them together.

“It’s going on 15 years, and it still feels good and fresh whenever we get together,” said Reischman.

Their latest album, a seasonal collection, is called On a Winter’s Night. It won’t be available until December, but they will be playing selections from it during the show.

Reischman said their sound strays away from bluegrass at times.

“We’re more or less bluegrass, and we play the instruments associated. But we’ve got a folkier side, too. Some of it has a strong element of old-time music threads, gospel music covers,” he said.

The Jaybirds have been touring Europe and North America for years, releasing five acclaimed albums and picking up nominations for Juno and Canadian Folk Music Awards.

Reischman said it’s important to him to pay homage to the founding fathers of bluegrass, but he’s also interested in innovation and experimentation. He said Bill Munroe, who is often credited with created bluegrass in the 1940s, is one of his inspirations.

“There are bands working to give a more progressive treatment to their sounds, and others who stick strictly to the way it was laid out by Flatt and Scruggs, Bill Monroe and the Stanley brothers,” he said.

“I really love the traditional sound but we–the band–are contributing our own take on it by our own originals. They’re not influenced by rock and roll so much, but they’re original and new.

Reischman plays the mandolin.

“The mandolin is there because Bill Monroe was a mandolin player,” he said. “It’s a great lead instrument because it’s tuned like a fiddle so it play all the fiddle tunes very easily. Monroe really developed a whole rhythmic side to it — playing on beats two and four in four-four time, so the bass would play and one and three and the mandolin plays between those. That’s the essential rhythm of bluegrass — and the banjo adds to it with the eighth notes and the fiddle does.

“But the rhythmic drive that the mandolin can provide is really something. There are players like Sam Bush whose one of my favourite players — he’s developed it even more, to have more of a rock sensibility. It’s a great instrument, for bluegrass, obviously, but for other kinds of music.”

The show is $20 for adults or $16 for students. Buy tickets online at or phone 250-352-6363.


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