By Crystal Harrell
Although Stagecoach is known for playing music that appeals to red-white-and-blue-blooded country and bluegrass lovers, this year’s festival held the door open for a wide variety of genres to make their way across its three stages. Jazz percussions, folksy guitar plucking, and good old fashioned rock ‘n’ roll riffs made a loud statement on the grounds previously dominated by banjos and fiddles. Among the acts that paved the way for a more diverse genre selection was John & Jacob, who performed on the Mane Stage Saturday, April 25.
The band, consisting of front men John Davidson and Jacob Bryant, with Jake Thrasher on bass, Austin Smith on guitar, and Trevor Davis on drums, entertained a lively crowd without difficulty. The group entered the stage in a truly Beatles-esque fashion wearing matching purple suits, and played an assortment of eclectic instruments in their set, including the trumpet and harmonica.
“It’s amazing being at Stagecoach. The weather was a little cloudy the day we performed and it wasn’t too hot, which is a good thing because we all wore suits,” joked Bryant.
“It was also our first time playing all together on the West Coast, and the view was great. You could look over and see mountains everywhere, so the whole experience was very cool,” added Davidson.
John & Jacob’s set was filled with toe-tapping beats that skirted between the lines of a Southern-warped British Invasion and a 1950’s minstrel show suited for barnyard dances. Each melody resonated loud and proud as the crowd cheered until the last note was sung.
The band agreed that Stagecoach was a sure-fire way to expose people to their music. “One thing we love to do as far as interacting with fans is telling them to check us out on social media and every one [of the band members] tries to reach out to them, so on a large festival scale like this, we love it,” said Bryant.
“We’re playing to people who have never seen us before, so Stagecoach gives us an opportunity to make some new fans,” Davidson agreed.
The group cites classic rock acts from the 60’s and 70’s like The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and the Eagles as their musical influences. Their own originality has lead John & Jacob to become a rising talent in the music scene, with their song “Be My Girl” being featured in ABC’s hit show Nashville. “We’re glad it happened, and it got us here to this level of recognition. It’s also opened up our fan base. A lot of the Nashville cast was on the side stage watching us, too. We made friends with Charles Esten,” explained Bryant.
Whether they are performing on stage or sitting in for an interview, it is evident that John & Jacob’s band members share a close bond. “We all live together in Nashville so we’re always nearby and we get along great,” stated Smith.
“We’re like brothers; it’s a family dynamic,” added Bryant.
The group is so close-knit that all the members even have matching tattoos of the word “wildcats,” which is the mascot of John & Jacob. “We were traveling to Kentucky, and it was one of those things where it just came up and stuck. And now, no matter where we play at, we go, ‘Go get ’em, Wildcats! Go get ’em, boys!’ before every show. It’s like our pre-show ritual now,” revealed Bryant.
As for future goals, John & Jacob have a few aspirations they hope to achieve at some point in their career. “We want to take on the world. Playing at Stagecoach is awesome in general, but maybe in the future we can headline the Mane Stage. We want to headline Coachella, we want to go to the U.K. and play at Glastonbury, we want to play Madison Square Garden… As big a gig as you can think of, we want to do it someday,” said Bryant.
The band members of John & Jacob have many experiences they consider to be pivotal in their career, including performing at the Grand Ole Opry last October. “We knew that if we did good playing there, we could make it anywhere. If we did bad, we would’ve been dead,” joked Smith.
“I would say the biggest thing would probably be getting to tour with Kacey Musgraves; that kept us busy for a year and it was a fun experience,” revealed Thrasher.
“We’re super-fans; we love every bit of her music. It’s an honor to be surrounded by all these successful musicians. It gives us the chance to learn from them and enjoy the experience,” added Bryant.
With their self-titled debut album already released, John & Jacob foresee more heartfelt tunes true to their style in the future. “We’ll always be evolving; we’re always learning our instruments, and there’s going to be new stuff that influences it. We’ll always be changing, but I think the core of it is made of rock ‘n’ roll melodies and harmonies,” concluded Bryant. “I think no matter what it sounds like, you’ll hear it and you’ll know it’s us.”