In love with that mournful sound

David Jacobs-Strain to perform with Christopher Worth

Posted 7/17/19

The first time David Jacobs-Strain heard a bluesy resonator guitar, he instantly fell in love with the unique sound.

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In love with that mournful sound

David Jacobs-Strain to perform with Christopher Worth


The first time David Jacobs-Strain heard a bluesy resonator guitar, he instantly fell in love with the unique sound.

The tone of that particular instrument reminds Jacobs-Strain of attending synagogue as a child with his family, he said.

“I grew up in a sort of atheist Jewish household, but we did go to synagogue and I never thought about this until years later, but the sound of the cantor’s voice, that mournful quality, that is also what my mom loved about going to temple when she was a kid.”

Even though slide guitar comes out of the African-American blues tradition of the Mississippi Delta, Jacobs-Strain said the sound reaches way back in his psyche, “...even before I ever thought about music,” he said.

That deep spiritual connection through sound feels as if it reaches straight into Jacob-Strain’s spinal cord, he said.

Like the cello his mom’s cantor played, which can mimic the sound of a human voice, a resonator guitar played with a finger slide can produce the same effect, he said.

“It has a deeper richness to the low frequencies than you would expect from a standard guitar,” he said. “I often tune the guitar low. I just love that sound. I love that baritone voicing.”

PT Show

David Jacobs-Strain will perform with Christopher Worth at 7 p.m., July 17 at Rainshadow Recording in Fort Worden State Park located at 200 Battery Way, Building 315.

Tickets are available at the door or online at Brown Paper Tickets.

“David came to Centrum Blues Camp when he was 14, I think, as a prodigy,” said Everett Moran, owner of Rainshadow Recording.

Moran said he first met Jacobs-Strain in 2001 when he was booking the Coors Roots of the Blues Festival at Swallow Hill in Denver, Colorado.

“Back then, he was pretty much strictly blues,” Moran said. “He has evolved into a very good singer-songwriter with incredible chops.”

Jacobs-Strain’s most recent studio recording, not yet released, was cut at Sound City and features an A-List of session players, including Jim Keltner on drums; Greg Liesz on pedal steel, lap steel; Viktor Krauss on bass; and Larry Goldings on keyboard, Moran said.

This will be the first performance by Christopher Worth that Moran will see live, but the vocalist has a great voice, Moran said.

Worth’s voice is what got Jacobs-Strain’s attention and led to the two touring together, the guitarist said.

The two had met at Stanford before Jacobs-Strain dropped out, but did not see each other again for many years.

They would meet again during a jam session at the Oregon Country Fair’s Late Night Artists Campfire, Jacobs-Strain said.

“I was playing a little guitar along with somebody else and all of a sudden I heard this voice come out of the darkness. I couldn’t see who it was, but it was the most incredible sound.”

Jacobs-Strain and the then-mystery vocalist started trading musical lines, he said.

“I would play something on the slide and he would sing it back. I would respond to that. After about 15 minutes, my eyes could just see who it was and I realized it was Christopher.”

Since the two meshed so well musically, they began booking festivals together this year and recorded an acoustic EP together.

“It is just us sitting around in a little room with a couple of mics playing the overdubs,” Jacobs-Strain said.

During the show at Rainshadow, the two will perform songs off the EP and other mostly original selections with a few covers thrown in here and there, Jacobs-Strain said.

Sliding on the guitar

When Jacobs-Strain plays his guitar, the slide he uses can be just about anything lying around, he said.

“I’ve played slide with wine glasses, butter knives, beer bottles – whatever was available. I usually use a glass bottleneck.”

To use a glass bottleneck, Jacobs-Strain ties a piece of twine around the neck of a wine bottle, dousing it in kerosene, lighting it on fire and snapping off the bottleneck, he said.

While successful at home, trying to teach the practice during a Centrum blues workshop was more difficult, Jacobs-Strain said.

“We made our own slides, sort of the traditional Delta Blues Player method of tying I had attempted at home. In the workshop, we went through about 100 bottles and got about seven.”

But the work is worth it when the unique sound is made, Jacobs-Strain said.

“Each one has got its own quirks in the way it handles, the way it feels against the string. The density of the glass, the weight, the proportions really changes the way it sounds.”

Factory-made metal or glass slides are more consistent, Jacobs-Strain said.

“But if you find the right bottleneck, it’s magic.”

That unique sound is exactly what Jacobs-Strain desires.

“I like guitars that are that way too,” he said. “If you pick up a guitar and it sounds good and plays real nice, that’s great. But the guitar I want to buy is the one you pick up and you think of something to play you have never played before. It steers you to a place that you hadn’t thought of.”


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