Kathy Sands-Boehmer, Me & Thee Blogspot, April 6, 2008
Quick Q and A with David Jacobs-Strain "David Jacobs-Strain is one of those wunderkinds who is so young and has been honing his trade in the music business for years already. David recorded his first album while still in high school and was a faculty member at a local country blues workshop in his teens. Lately he's been touring the country, playing his sweet Delta-soaked blues to clubs, theatres, and coffeehouses. He's definitely a force to be reckoned with!..."
Robert Kinsler, Orange County Register, July 18, 2007
Boz Scaggs is still silky smooth at 60 "One of the joys of getting to a show early is the chance to discover promising young talent. Such was the case with the impressive and memorable 30-minute set from David Jacobs-Strain..."
Online Diary, August 27, 2006
Fur Peace Ranch, Meigs County "The show at the Fur Peace Station last night was simply outstanding. David Jacobs-Strain opened with a spectacular set. A thoroughly modern young musician while still being totally at home with the tradition and idiom, his performance was stellar! Add to this his marvelous voice and there you have the new guard coming on strong. "My old friend, John Hammond, was peerless as always. He spent some time sharing his journey with the audience, and quite a journey it is. He is quite simply a national treasure and he just gets better and better. The blues have taken him many places that most never get to see. He has more than returned the favor by taking the blues to strange corners of the world. The old guard is more than safe with him. "It was all made more perfect for me when both of these fine gentlemen invited me on stage to sit in for a bit. If there is any more perfection in life than this on a late summer evening... I need to know about it! "Onward!"
Dennis Cook, www.jambase.com, July 17, 2006
HIGH SIERRA 2006: HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS Taking My Chances with The David Jacobs-Strain Trio "Somebody tell me, please, about the soul of a man," growled David Jacobs-Strain. His baby face hides a grizzled old soul that emerges in a thick, commanding voice into which he's finally growing. Jacobs-Strain has been a regular on the blues circuit since he was 11 years old, but he's really come into his own on recent albums produced by the great Kenny Passarelli. 2004's Ocean or a Teardrop revealed a complex artist determined to venture outside traditional blues boundaries. At two sets on the Big Meadow that bookended the festival, he built on the new flavors revealed on Ocean, combining spirited picking with a nicely restless imagination. Joined by hand-percussionist Jarrod Kaplan and bassist Will Lydgate, he cherry-picked blues standards, his own records, and compelling new material. The initial lure for many may be Jacobs-Strain's dizzying acoustic guitar playing. The National Steel guitar has rarely sounded as loud and proud in other hands, but he continually pitched things to his band mates, sharing the spotlight when it would be very easy not to. There's a likable humility to Jacobs-Strain. His intellectually-charged lyrics bring a fresh snap to blues forms, inspiring a small rush on the merch table when he played the title tune from Ocean, a tale of broken promises and tired soldiers that ends with the line, "There's no oil, no love, When the war is done." He nailed Robert Johnson's "Come On In My Kitchen," one of the litmus tests of the blues. "Subtle but always moving forward, the trio was relaxed, confident, and engaged. Perhaps the highlight of both sets was Thursday's "Take My Chances," an original that Jacobs-Strain introduced as being "about the cash economy in Western Oregon." This clear-eyed weed rumination culminates in the memorable "The world has always grown sativa, Always had and always will. Some for love and some for money, Better still to touch the earth." David Jacobs-Strain could have chosen the easier path of traditional blues recreation. Instead, he's determined to move the thick blue line behind him a few miles forward."
A. Oviedo, Amazon.com, June 8, 2006
"I first saw David Jacob-Strain at the Kerrville Folk Festival and wasn't sure what to expect from such a young kid. However, as he opened up his set with an acoustic piece, shivers spread immediately all over my body. The ferver in which he played only grew with each song, regardless of the instrument he took up, and I knew as soon as he finished (with a standing ovation from the entire crowd) that I needed to buy his albums. "I'm not disappointed. Any fan of Ani Difranco (I know, she's not blues... but the complexity of guitar talent parallels) will love his music. I recommend that regardless of your music genre of choice, you will highly enjoy listening to the intricate musical exploration on which David Jacobs- Strain will take you. Still, if you want to see the best of his music, PLEASE see him perform live. That, in my opinion, is where he is at his most comfortable and best."
Gerard MacCrossan,The Daily Times, Kerrville, TX, May 30, 2006
Folk Festival opens on high note "QUIET VALLEY RANCH —Old names and young up-and-comers shared the stage this weekend at the Kerrville Folk Festival. The 35th annual event proved its endurance among festival die-hards where the returning Kerr-verts and first-time Kerr-virgins alike experienced a bustling opening weekend. The promise of a good attendance came to fruition with billed headliner Guy Clark pulling in festivalgoers in on Sunday night... Part of the folk festival's attraction for some is the variety of performers from across the musical spectrum. Following the three Texans, blues musician David Jacobs-Strain changed the pace when he and his guitars took the stage in the Kennedy Outdoor Theater..."
Terry Odor, Cascade Blues Association, Portland, OR, May 20, 2006
"His last album Ocean or a Teardrop was my favorite album of 2004. I went to his CD release in Portland for that ... I thought he couldn't possibly get any better. He did! I saw David and his Trio tonight at Portland, Oregon's Mississippi Studios and saw what was no doubt the most satisfying show I have seen this year, at least. If this guy gets anywhere near you, consider it a "must see" show!"
John Stifler, Daily Hampshire Gazette, Northampton, MA, July 21, 2005
TIME OUT: David Jacobs-Strain's something-else blues "IF you're going to the Iron Horse tonight or tomorrow, you're probably going because Fred Eaglesmith is the main act, and you know, or you've heard, that Eaglesmith is one of a handful of singer/songwriter/guitarists who, as the Michelin guides say, are worth not just a detour, but a whole trip in itself. In my experience at the Northampton club, no other songwriter with the exception of Richard Thompson has more completely grabbed an Iron Horse audience by its collective label, belly, you name, and shaken it with the force of his stage performance than Fred Eaglesmith. No wonder the Horse books him for two nights. But this time around, Eaglesmith has an opening act you'll want to see again for his own sake. This is David Jacobs-Strain, a 22-year-old visionary from Eugene, Ore., with a precocious understanding of the ancient roots of blues and an exhilarating ability to explore some of its previously unknown passageways..."
Play Blues Guitar, May 2005
David Jacobs-Strain at B.B. King's, Apr 05, NYC "Exhibiting cool confidence, 21-year old David-Jacobs Strain from San Francisco by way of Oregon took the stage and proceeded to captivate the capacity house..."
Dave "Doc" Piltz, Blues On Stage, May 2005
"...With the release of An Ocean or a Teardrop, David Jacobs-Strain has created a very impressive new CD. His mixture of the blues with other genres and added instrumentation makes the CD interesting and entertaining listening from start to finish. Jacobs- Strain's vocals, guitar prowess and the creative ideas he brings to the music, make this a fine effort by the young bluesman. With his fine guitar and distinctive songwriting, An Ocean or a Teardrop is definitely recommended listening..."
G.W., Dirty Linen, April/May 2005
"With his fifth album, his second for the NorthernBues label, David Jacobs-Strain shows that all the approbation that's come his way of late is well earned. There has been a slew of young guitarists in recent years littering the blues-rock landscape, but Jacobs-Strain is the real deal. For one thing, he doesn't just rock out: he's learned the art of crossing musical boundaries from the masters. His music has a fiery passion that's exciting and engaging, tempered with an aesthetic reminiscent of the Pacific Northwest, where he grew up and cut his first guitar strings. Don't be fooled by his youth; Jacobs-Strain knows what he's doing."
"David Jacobs-Strain is arguably one of the finest blues musicians of his generation. Barely into his twenties, his guitar virtuosity, his voice and his song-writing would be the envy of most musicians twice his age."
John Ginn, Eugene Weekly, Eugene, OR, April 13, 2005
"If you've followed the Eugene music scene at all the last several years you've undoubtedly heard of David Jacobs-Strain. He's the former wunderkind, now 22-year-old, who's been hailed since he was a teen as a future blues giant. In a recent phone interview, Jacobs-Strain talked about what he's been up to lately..."
Acoustic Guitar Magazine, February 2005
"With his second CD for the Canadian Northern Blues label, David Jacobs-Strain, at the ripe old age of 21, has delivered an uncannily mature record that is true to country blues traditions while making a bold grab for rock and pop crossover appeal. Jacobs-Strain's virtuosic acoustic and slide guitar skills are certainly on display, as on his breakneck bottleneck rendition of Sleepy John Estes' The Girl I Love. But it's his impassioned singing and growing talents as a songwriter that take center stage here... If radio gives him a chance, Jacobs-Strain is poised to make a major impression on the music world."
Dave Rubin, Guitar One Magazine, February 2005
"David Jacobs-Strain... in combining intelligence and passion with fierce chops is clearing his own path to a powerful musical identity."
WYCE-FM, Grand Rapids, Michigan
"It only took David 20 years to become a force of nature."
Jim Harrington, Metroactive Music, San Jose, CA, January 19, 2005
School Daze: David Jacobs-Strain grows into his voice on 'Ocean' "COLLEGE LIFE is a balancing act.... Every college student faces similar scheduling conflicts, but a Bay Area bookworm has to juggle schoolwork with the demands that come with a musical career on the upswing. At just 21, blues vocalist-guitarist David Jacobs-Strain already has four CDs out and appearances at major events like MerleFest and the Montreal International Jazz Festival. The Stanford cultural and social anthropology major will take a break from his studies to celebrate the release of his new CD, Ocean or a Teardrop, his second release on the NorthernBlues Music label "...Ocean is a fine rebuttal against those who once wanted to write Jacobs-Strain off as a novelty act."
Joshua Rotter, East Bay Express, Music: Hearsay, January 5, 2005
"The acclaimed blues guitarist's fifth (!) release takes the 21-year-old (!) wunderkind into uncharted territory, combining American roots sensibilities -- his alternatingly gruff and rich voice backed by fiddle, harmonica, and washtub drum -- with world instruments such as the Turkish oud, African kora, congas, and djembe. The combination makes sense on an album that examines our government's recent failures on the international front, condemning attacks on countries an ocean away rather than shedding tears for war's human casualties. "If Ocean or a Teardrop's title track (an intensely metaphorical, gospel- infused, fiddle-filled meditation on war) and "Shoot the Devil" (an attack on W's brand of cowboy justice) seem dire, "Earthquake" finds the bearer of bad news taking a decidedly optimistic approach, as he predicts an eminently approaching anti-Republican social backlash, Book of Revelations-style. But if the politics unnerve you, feel free to enjoy the tune's acoustic-guitar fireworks, reminiscent of "The Devil Went Down to Georgia..."
Derk Richardson, SFGate.com The Hear & Now, January 6, 2005
Beyond The Blues: Stanford student David Jacobs-Strain is a blues phenom but he wants more. "If the blues is searching for a savior, it will have to look beyond David Jacobs-Strain. Although the young guitar phenomenon from Eugene, Ore., is hailed far and wide for the way he roots his dazzling fretwork and authentic, soulful voice in the Mississippi Delta, he aims for higher ground beyond the blues..."
Eric Thom, Blues Revue, December 2004
"His masterful fingerpicking and unholy slide technique thrust him into a new category of old-school..."
Paste Magazine, Issue #13, 2004
Hand Made Music "David Jacobs-Strain—the young man with the age-old voice and guitar chops that make players twice his age break out in a cold sweat—plows new ground with his latest, Ocean Or A Teardrop..."
Camille Ricketts, Stanford Magazine, November/December 2004
"Reinventing the Blues. Critics agree: watch this musician..."
All About Jazz, November 28, 2004
Anaheim Downtown Community Center, Anaheim, California November 20, 2004 "Communicating with his audience like a fired-up veteran of the blues, 21-year-old David Jacobs-Strain brought his acoustic guitars and his powerful vocal style to Anaheim for a thrilling get-together that ushered in the holiday season with open arms. Performing alone on stage in the comfortable room, he mixed originals with down-home blues roots classics that had the audience rockin' in their seats and stompin' the floor gently with rhythmic enthusiasm. Jacobs-Strain has a contagious delivery that overpowers..."
Bonnie Johnson, The Stanford Daily, November 19, 2004
Majoring in Rockstar Studies: David Jacobs-Strain "They appear in fanzines; they tour incessantly; they live in the dorms. Who are these mysterious stars of the underground? Stanford students. It's a little known fact that rock lives here at Stanford and that at least a few here live to rock. A handful of Stanford students have pursued their music like the crazy folks they are and made it in their respective scenes thanks to distinctive styles and a whole lot of hard work. This week: David Jacobs-Strain..."
Widdershins, November 2004
Earth Tones: Parting the Veil with Music "Jacobs-Strain brings the cost of war home on a personal level with this song, with a multi-layered musical arrangement that's a feast for the ears, and a lyrical sensitivity that recognizes the inevitability of human conflict without being resigned to it. Pretty sophisticated stuff for a 21-year-old, and there's plenty more to come on this solid and soul-catching album...>
"With a deep bluesy voice, Jacobs-Strain delivers what blues fans have been waiting for. He hits every nerve with his searing voice..."
Chris Nickson, All Music Guide
"Getting better on the guitar every day, never flashing or arrogant about his talent, Jacobs-Strain is set to become a major figure in music, not just blues..."
Chip O'Brien, Minor 7th
"Jacobs-Strain has delivered a blues album fans will be talking about for years to come. From the opening resophonic guitar riff of Mississippi Fred McDowell's Kokomo Blues straight through to the impassioned and desperate vocal of the final track, a song penned by Jacobs-Strain titled Illinois, Ocean or a Teardrop sizzles with an energy rarely present on modern blues releases..."
Steven Shih, Palo Alto Weekly, September 24, 2004
"A mesmerizing country blues performer who plays with the intensity of the most fervent revivalist..."
Jim Cornelius, Nugget Newspaper, Sisters, Oregon, August 31, 2004
Blues ace showcases musical evolution "David Jacobs-Strain has no problem dazzling audiences and critics alike with his fluid and passionate acoustic guitar chops..."
Robert Reid, Kitchener-Waterloo Record, September 4, 2004
"Ocean Or A Teardrop delivers big time, with a blend of raw Americana fused with sounds from around the world."
Oakland Tribune, April 23, 2004
MUSIC-O-RAMA: Five Bay Area Acts Ready To Break Out "We picked five Bay Area musicians with the biggest break-out potential. The fact that these artists cover such a wide range of stylistic ground, from jazz and blues to hip-hop and pop, is a strong testament to the vibrancy of the entire local music scene."
Adam St. James, Guitar.com, February 2004
David Jacobs-Strain The Prodigal Son? "Blues is born from the depth of the soul, not the depth of the experience. Such might be the mantra of one David Jacobs-Strain, 20, of Eugene, Oregon. David is quickly making a name for himself on the national folk and blues scene for his adept playing and heartfelt Delta-styled singing. If you've already seen and heard David play, you know that while he might be young of age, he is not lacking in the soulful resonance needed to convey a great blues song..."
Guitar One Magazine, January 2004
LIVE! David Jacobs-Strain Bottom Line >> New York City [August 22, 2003] "For a young artist, being heralded as the "new Dylan" can be a mixed blessing. While obviously a compliment of the highest order, the expectations can be a heavy burden. Twenty-year-old acoustic guitarist David Jacobs-Strain, from Eugene, Oregon, however, has the vocal and instrumental chops, along with the compositional skills and, most importantly, the moral convictions, to give it a shot. One can draw a straight line from Dylan's intrepretation, at age 21, of Blind Lemon Jefferson's "See That My Grave is Kept Clean" to Jacobs-Strain's harrowing version of Bill Monroe's "Wild Bill Jones." Switching on this night from a Jeff Traugott flat-top to National Resophonic Style "O", Jacobs-Strain plumbed the depths of his young "old" soul, keeping the blues as his companion. Throughout his set, and especially on his original "Sidewalk Rag" and "Poor Boy," he maintained muscular driving rhythms while peeling off torrents of cleanly picked notes and keening slide melodies." --DR
The Daily Camera, Boulder Colorado,
Friday Magazine Section, September 12, 2003
David Jacobs-Strain: Bluesman connects with tradition "No one would ever accuse David Jacobs-Strain of writing a party soundtrack. While the blues to people his age might suggest frenzied electric guitars solos and songs about booze and bad love, the 20-year-old Stanford sophomore goes for much deeper stuff...."
Dan Gewertz, Boston Herald, The Edge, August 15, 2003
Newport Folk Festival hails fresh young talent "One of the most amazing among those talented musicians is David Jacobs-Strain, a blues guitarist and singer from Eugene, Ore., who just turned 20 on Wednesday...."
Newport This Week, August 14, 2003
Old, new and in between at this year's folk festival "Another artist to keep an eye out for is a newcomer to Newport. David Jacobs-Strain is a 20-year old blues guitarist who will play on Sunday. While many 20-year-olds are still figuring out their lives,..."
Boston Phoenix, August 1, 2003
"This quiet but powerful bluesman has assimilated contemporary slide-guitar artistry into the music's deepest tradition."
Tom Paxton, Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, July 2003
"I heard a young man - David Jacobs-Strain - at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival last weekend and he has tradition in his hands and heart. I believe you'll be hearing a lot from and about him in years to come. Something to look forward to!
John Metzger, The Music Box, February 2003
"...a terrific guitarist too, capable of tearing into a rhythmic groove with amazing dexterity... It isn't clear as to why, at the age of nineteen, Jacobs-Strain inhabits the world-weariness of the blues that most folks twice his age seem to lack. Suffice it to say that whatever the reason, Jacobs-Strain is the real deal &emdash; a blues artist to watch."
Kelly Vance, East Bay Express,
Billboard, "He's Ready", January 22, 2003
"Blues singer-guitarist phenom David Jacobs-Strain sounds like he just fell off a southbound freight train..."
Lewis Taylor, Register Guard,
"For winter break, Jacobs-Strain makes music for old friends",
January 3, 2003
"Eugene native David Jacobs-Strain, now a freshman at Stanford University, played some local shows while home for the holidays."
Jim Harrington, San Mateo County Times,
"Singing the freshman blues", November 20, 2002
"If there is one thing that stands out about this young blues player's music it's how real it is."
Guitar One Magazine,
cover story: "The New Guitar Heroes", November 2002
"Stuck On The Way Back reveals chilling original tunes that the solo acoustic blues artist takes to the edge with virtuosic slide and finger picking. Besides his fret-busting chops and barrelhouse vocals, Jacobs-Strain's deep knowledge of the past informs his music with an authenticity that is startling for his age."
Acoustic Guitar Magazine, Hit List, December 2002
"Jacobs-Strain's style has matured well beyond imitation. Showing off his considerable chops on the blistering "Sidewalk Rag," he makes an emphatic statement about old forms becoming new again. And in "Linin' Track," he turns a Leadbelly holler into a rollicking slide guitar number, making the tune his own."
Music Matters Review, #15, December 2002
"Jacobs-Strain has authored a compelling and driving piece of guitar/vocal artistry... Hanging over the entire work is an air of inevitability and cold harshness yet it is with a tremendously fluent and sensitive hand. If Otis Taylor is your type of blues, David Jacobs-Strain takes it a step further on. If deep hurt and pain sung and played like an ancient by this young virtuoso is your blues, it is here... a compelling listen."
Maurice S. Teilmann, Synthesis, November 2002, Chico, California
"One listen through his latest release, Stuck On The Way Back (Northernblues Music), reveals the soulful voice and expert licks of a truly gifted player who can capture the feel and soul demonstrated by the blues players of old. What's even more amazing is Jacobs-Strain's catalog of original numbers, all displaying his beautiful, poignant acoustic blues and heartfelt lyrics."
Indie-Music.com, October 8, 2002
"He's gruff, snarly, bold, sometimes brash and most always intense. His vocals convey strength and confidence."
Gary Von Tersch,
Sing Out!, Off the Beaten Track, Fall 2002
"Carrying on in the invigorating tradition of his friend and mentor Otis Taylor, teenage guitar prodigy Jacobs-Strain surfaces with one of the most powerful blues releases of the year... His style is reminiscent of the late John Fahey's Takoma-era heyday."
Blues Revue, Oct/Nov 2002
"has the mature touch and thoughtful songwriting usually associated with a much older artist. So forget about his age and concentrate on the delights of his fourth album, Stuck On The Way Back... it's clear that Jacobs-Strain has the potential to be one of traditional acoustic blues' brightest lights. If he's brilliant now, image what he'll be like at 99."
Guitar One Magazine, "Hot Licks" new blues releases, October 2002
"Sidewalk Rag should have Leo Kottke looking over his shoulder."
Tower Records "Pulse! Magazine", CD review, September 2002
"Fleet acoustic-guitar picker Jacobs-Strain has the potential to become one of the music's young lions..."
All Music Guide, AMG Review, 2002
"...guitar technique and power that's second to none and a voice that's decades older than his baby face... one of the best of a new generation."
Green Man Review, CD review, August 2002
"Jacobs-Strain is a railroad train, a diesel powerhouse of raw energy, technical skill, speed, and soul."
Splendid E-zine, CD review, August 26, 2002
"...masterfully-played album. Even the most ardent blues hater should be able to dredge up some grudging respect for Jacobs-Strain's accomplishments here"
New York Rock, Street Beat, August 1, 2002
"...the sound is haunting and uplifting" "A spellbinding effort."
Aiding & Abetting #231, July 2002
"The power of this album is unmistakable. From the first notes, it is apparent that this disc is not to be missed. The guitar work alone is enough to recommend this set, but Jacobs-Strain has one of those old man voices (particularly surprising for such a young guy) that resonates with the moan of his picking. One of the finds of the year, certainly."
Blues Bytes, CD Review, July 2002, Vol. 7, No. 8
"I popped the new CD from Oregon teenager David Jacobs-Strain in my disc player, expecting to hear still another young 'Stevie Ray Vaughan wannabe.' Instead, my ears were treated to some of the finest acoustic guitar wizardry I've heard in a long, long time. To put it bluntly, this kid can flat out play! ... I've always considered it a compliment for any six-string guitarist to be compared to Leo Kottke, whose guitar work I've admired for more than 25 years. Here, Jacobs-Strain evokes memories of some of Kottke's best work..."
John Taylor, Blues On Stage, CD review, July 2002
"An excellent disc, and yet another triumph for NorthernBlues, arguably the most important label around right now."
Cosmik Debris Magazine, No. 85, July 2002
"There are few acoustic blues players that make me sit up and take notice, but Oregon's David Jacobs-Strain is one that caught my attention with his fourth CD, Stuck on the Way Back. He's quite an accomplished player in the style of Taj Mahal, Guy Davis, or Otis Taylor. You get the picture: a genuine throwback player with real traditional and acoustic blues on the National Reso-Phonic guitar. This year, he'll return to the Port Townsend Country Blues Workshop for his third year as a member of the guitar faculty, and I'm simply amazed that he won't turn 20 for another year. When he plays the traditional "Poor Boy Blues" or R.L. Burnside's "Poor Black Mattie," he's respectfully honoring generations of bluesmen and blueswomen with fresh takes on traditional blues, and he's built up quite a following at festivals like the Beale Street Caravan, California World Music Festival, or Portland's Waterfront Blues Festival. If you enjoy the sparse, yet emotionally powerful blues of mentor and label mate Otis Taylor, pick up David Jacobs-Strain."
Richard Bourcier, Jazz Review, CD review, 2002
Music Dish, CD review, June 26, 2002
"For those of you who thought that the blues was pretty much dead, you'll be surprised to know that there are blues artists who have the soul, the passion, and the raw feel of the legends. David Jacobs-Strain is one of those artists. His style is so emotional and true, that it may just be a sin. David pours on the purity with every song on this album. I was simply amazed at the depth that this great artist has."
Lewis Taylor, Eugene Register-Guard, cover article in "Ticket", May 31, 2002
Cascade Blues Notes, CD review, June 2002
"His material comes across like a master as yet undiscovered. An acoustic gem ready to take on all comers and deservedly awaiting his place among the elite of his profession." "...extraordinary guitar work that'd make John Fahey proud"
Blues Bytes,May 2002
"At 18, David Jacobs-Strain is one of the best guitarists of his generation. But it's his mighty vocals that will knock you over..."
Wade Tatangelo, The Oracle, April 25, 2002 (Tampa, FL)
John Valenteyn, John's Blues Picks, Toronto Blues Society, June 2002
Philadelphia City Paper, March 1, 2001
"...The sound of a well-played slide guitar had me peeping into one room where a 17-year-old white boy was playing the hell out of his acoustic guitar. David Jacobs-Strain’s CD (Longest Road I Know on Hang-Dog Music) shows a Connecticut native who has assimilated both the vocal and picked language of blues so thoroughly that he is writing convincing originals."
Judith Gennett, The Columbia Gypsy Music Archive, May 31, 2001
Cascade Blues Notes, June, 2001
"The Longest Road I Know is a collection of live dates that David has played during the past year at a handful of West Coast settings stretching from Tacoma, Washington to Berkeley, California. The material he has chosen is an example of his influences, ranging from early Acoustic Bluesman, Mississippi Fred McDowell and Sleepy John Estes, to modern heroes like R.L. Burnside and Otis Taylor. Each song is reworked effectively and delivered in a manner that holds a bright outlook for David's future as a musician and songwriter. His original number, "Silver On Your Decks", stands easily alongside the traditional numbers it follows and as a whole, this CD should be turning heads all over the country. Pick up on David Jacobs-Strain now, because talent like this cannot be hidden from the rest of the Blues world forever. Once they do catch on, he's going to find himself in constant demand and we can look back and say, "I remember seeing him when. . . " If you enjoy straight-forward Acoustic Blues, then this is one recording you'll want to check out."
Nugget Newspaper, Sisters, Oregon, September 11, 2001
5-star reviews: Amazon.com, September 19, 2001
Blue Country, "Roots Album of the Month, April
Southwest Blues Magazine, June 2000
CD Reviews Archives David Jacobs-Strain -- Skin And Bones (Hang Dog Music 9902) "'The joys and sufferings of many people are there in the texture of the music. While I am drawn to play in the tradition of the music, I have no agenda. I am not trying to reproduce and preserve the old blues like an ethnomusicologist or folklorist. For me the intensity of the music itself is the obsession - it challenges the soul.' Thus spoke little David Jacobs Strain via the liner notes and I am inclined to take his word for it. This 15-year-old from Eugene, Oregon is being toted as a slide guitar phenom; with two releases under his belt, several headline articles, and buzz about his live festival shows. Whether or not he is a prodigy, this teenage white boy has got the critics ooing and awing over his Delta Blues work. Honestly, it is a bit disconcerting hearing some of the tunes on Skin And Bones. Downright scary in some spots. What is so disturbing is that this 11th grader definitely sings and plays with the fire and passion that fueled some of the early artists he covers. The sound is heartfelt and raw. His voice strains and pushes, the notes bend and ache. He may be conscious of his disassociation with the previous performers of the tunes but his connection into that Blues Collective is overpowering; it's like he's channeling spirits. His choice of instruments is also of interest: A fretless Hawaiian guitar and bottleneck slide on "Nobody's Fault;" A homemade diddley-bow and bottleneck slide on "Stagolee." A National Resophonic guitar is the instrument of choice on most of the twelve tracks. But away from the sheer novelty of the youthful performer, removed from the context of the ironic contradictions, is this a worthwhile product? Answer: Yes. The textures and layers in these tunes are powerful and intoxicating. There is an ageless mysticism resounding in the chords that connects with that hurt hiding inside you. It will be interesting to see where Strain takes it next."
John Irving, Once And Future Blues
Dave "Doc" Piltz, Delta Snake Daily Blues, August 2000
BBBlues Most, Czech Repbulic
"Balsamic oil for your soul."
Paul de Barros,
Seattle Times, June 24, 1999
Guitarist, 15, Finds Passion In The Blues Paul De Barros -- Special To The Seattle Times David Jacobs-Strain was all of 12 years old when he started attending Centrum's Country Blues Workshop in Port Townsend. This year, at the ripe old age of 15, he is an instructor. "It's exciting," says the Eugene, Ore., slide-guitar phenom, who already has played the Winthrop Blues Festival and issued two CDs under his own name - "First Friday Live" and "Skin and Bone." "I was pretty surprised. I'm doing my best to leave people with some techniques and inspirations for getting deeper into the roots music of the United States." Jacobs-Strain is one of several artists who have been teaching this week and who perform this weekend at the Country Blues Festival. The event starts tomorrow at 7 p.m. in the McCurdy Pavilion at Fort Worden State Park, and in six Port Townsend nightclubs, and runs through Saturday night. Jacobs-Strain plays at the Saturday 2 p.m. concert. The other festival artists are John Miller, Cephas and Wiggins, Michael Roach, Saffire (The Uppity Blues Women), Orville Johnson, Otis Taylor, Jerry Ricks, Sherri Orr, Mark Graham, Del Ray, Sam Mitchell, Alice Stuart and John Jackson. So how does a 15-year-old white kid from the suburbs, who's never even been to the South, get into the Mississippi Delta blues? "I'm not exactly sure," answers this unusual prodigy, by telephone from Port Townsend. "It's rather illogical, isn't it? I started taking guitar lessons when I was about 9 and the person I was taking lessons from taught me `Backwater Blues.' It just kind of progressed from there." Jacobs-Strain cites Taj Mahal, whom he heard at a free concert in Albany, Ore., as well as hokum virtuoso Bob Brozman and Seattle's own Orville Johnson, as other early, live inspirations. Recordings by Son House, Skip James, Fred MacDowell, R.L. Burnside, Roosevelt Sykes and others have been his constant companions. Hearing the wizened, slurred vocalizations and achingly bent notes that come out of this slight kid with glasses, and from his National guitar, as he plays "Poor Boy" and "Stagolee," is pretty amazing. Does he see any contradiction in his playing music from a rural, black culture? "I'm definitely not of the tradition of the blues," he responds, "but I'm in the tradition of the blues. I sing other peoples' stories, but I put my own feeling and passion into it." That's a pretty sophisticated answer from a Eugene kid going into the 11th grade. It's easy to see why people twice his age are lining up for lessons."