Over the past couple years, Jabbawaukee has become a leading act in Rhode Island’s jam band scene. They’ve played several festivals, including the Rhythm & Roots Festival in Charlestown, and venues such as Dusk and The Parlour in Providence, The Met in Pawtucket, The Knickerbocker Music Center in Westerly and The Ocean Mist in Matunuck. Out of everywhere they’ve played, one establishment has been their home base: Pump House Music Works in Wakefield. The place on 1464 Kingstown Road has resumed putting on shows on their front lawn, and the quartet of bassist and vocalist Brendon Bjorness-Murano, guitarist and vocalist David Hobson, keyboardist Jack Skiffington and drummer Jason Laplume are going to be playing two sets there on Saturday at 4 p.m., with Sleeping Turtle opening the show.
I had a talk with Hobson, Bjorness-Murano and Skiffington ahead of the show about playing socially-distanced shows during the COVID-19 pandemic last year, building a practice space and recording studio, putting a bunch of music together and their plans for the summer.
Rob Duguay: You guys were one of the few local bands who started playing socially-distanced shows last summer. Looking back, how would you describe that experience?
David Hobson: It definitely took some getting used to, with all the new rules in place, but we were just happy to be playing at all, to be honest. We pretty much had our entire summer schedule canceled due to COVID-19. Luckily venues such as The Pump House, among other places, were still able to have live music. It was great to see how venues were able to have outdoor shows while still keeping things safe.
RD: Brendon, you’ve been busy building a recording studio at your house in Westerly. How has it been coming along and do you plan to have it be Jabbawaukee’s home base when it comes to recording?
Brendon Bjorness-Murano: Yes, we are presently in my studio every week practicing, and will be using it to finish up vocals and solos. We went from having the smallest practice space, where we all couldn’t make eye contact while playing, to having the most spacious, professional spot to practice and record in. I am also working on a few other projects for other musicians as well. For example, I’m mastering an album for Dave Brunyak, formerly of Pink Talking Phish. I’m excited to use this studio space not only for Jabbawaukee, but I now finally have a pro setup where I can charge properly.
RD: The upcoming show at Pump House Music Works has you guys playing two sets, so how difficult can it be when it comes to putting that much music together?
Jack Skiffington: Our music is collectively dynamic and immersive. Song by song you can hear funk, jazz, and hard rock influences washed in deep dance and warm psychedelic grooves. The kind of stuff that gets people to free their minds and move their bodies. With all the unique styles and influences each of us bring to the group, it becomes more a question of what can’t we play in two hours.
RD: Sleeping Turtle is described as psychedelic flute music. It sounds strange but intriguing, so where did you discover this act?
JS: We are very active with our fan base through social media and noticed Sleeping Turtle was interacting a lot with us over Facebook. He would comment how he wanted to make music with us, so we decided to give his show a slot right before us. We thought it would be more interesting to have an opening act that was different than just a two-band bill we normally do. I’m excited to see what he cooks up, honestly.
RD: What can we expect from Jabbawaukee later this summer? Do you have a ton of shows lined up? Can we expect a new record to come out?
BBJ: We have a new album coming out in October called Family Tree that we’ve been working on. Other than that we’re going to be playing the RiverJam Music Festival in Mystic, Connecticut on June 26, SummerJam Camp Out in Brunswick, Maine on July 1 and some private events. We’re really excited to get back to playing as things return to somewhat normal.