I recently saw Jake Armerding, a Boston-based multi-instrumentalist, at Club Passim. I knew he played mandolin and fiddle (fiddle being his primary instrument, or so I thought), but at this show he played those as well as guitar. He did all the lead singing with backing vocals from Zachariah Hickman.
I first saw Jake as part of Barnstar!, a fabulous band that plays bluegrass-on-speed (as I call it). That is one of my favorite bands to see perform because the shows are extremely high energy with a ton of talent and humor.
For this show, which was listed as a solo show initially, Jake brought Zack, one of his Barnstar! and Rosin bandmates, to play bass. For several songs, he also had his other Rosin bandmates fiddle player Annie Bartlett and cellist Mina Kim on stage.
The show started with Jake and Zack playing a couple of very jazzy numbers. I was expecting – well, I’m not sure what I was expecting but it wasn’t jazz – more folk music but was pleasantly surprised and happy with the jazz. On those tunes, Jake played guitar.
From there the music soared to many places, from folk to bluegrass to tunes that have a basis in classical music. I thoroughly enjoyed the different genres they played. Most were original tunes which impressed me. I am not a songwriter, but it seems that it takes a great deal of talent to be able to write music in multiple genres. Jake is that talented.
The other musicians are also that talented. I have seen Zack perform both with Barnstar! and Josh Ritter (for whom he is the musical director). Zack is an incredibly expressive performer and is one of the musicians I most love to photograph! He is also supremely talented.
I saw Jake and Annie perform as a duo at a discussion about folk music and am looking forward to seeing her play with her other band, Hank Wonder, soon.
This was my first time seeing Mina who was seated directly in front of me so I had a great view of her hands moving deftly across the cello strings.
Jake's brother Jessie came to the stage to play one song on the rubboard (also known as a frottoir). I enjoyed seeing the siblings make music together; I have seen Jake perform with his father Taylor in Barnstar! and would love to see all three of the Armerdings on the same stage.
Opening the show was Jim Trick, a Boston-based singer-songwriter who continues to impress me the more I see him. Possessed with a truly lovely voice, Jim is an engaging performer who should be a bigger name than he is. Hopefully that will change soon!
This was a lovely evening of excellent music which was greatly appreciated after a long week of work. I do not know how much Jake tours, but he does play around Boston frequently. See him as well as any of the bands I mentioned in this review. I highly recommend them all!