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Blackberry Bushes, Ian Jones and the Jones Family Fortune and Cassandra Robertson

The Weekly Volcano scribes tell you where to go

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blackberry bushes

In Olympia, girls like to do things their way. Since the early ’90s punk rock girls and Washington’s state capital have walked hand in hand down the independent music highway. But the self-reliant female energy from punk music radiated into other things. In 2004, three friends noted that in the pickin’ and grinnin’ world of bluegrass, women were seldom portrayed in any empowered sense. “Traditional songs are our way of passing along our stories,” says founding member of the Blackberry Bushes Jessica Raymond, “and the women in these songs were either waiting for someone to come back, dying or brokenhearted. None of them were in empowered positions.”

At the Blue Heron Bakery in 2004 there was a picking jam where musicians from many different genres gathered. “It was really accessible to amateur musicians,” says Raymond. But the girls found it difficult to play as quickly and as aggressively as the men. As a result, they formed their own group for fun and to use each other for educational support. Soon the idea of an all-girl bluegrass band caught the attention of local bluegrass fans, and the band was off and running. They’ve toured the United States and played at prestigious events such as Telluride and The Northwest Folklife Festival. Three members grew to five, and a male bass player joined the ranks. “We’re no longer an all-girl band, but we definitely still have that female energy,” says Raymond. Sadly after their upcoming show, five will become four as guitar/banjo player Cera Impala plans to run off and marry Dirk Ronneburg, lead singer and guitar player of Head for the Hills Bluegrass Band, which will also be left bereft when the couple departs for their new home in Berlin, Germany. You can capture a piece of Blackberry Bushes’ history by purchasing the band’s second album, Creatures of Habit, which is the only album that Cera Impala recorded with the band. CDs will be on sale at and at the Eastside Club Tavern Friday when the Blackberry Bushes and Head for the Hills Bluegrass Band perform for the last time in their current formations.

“We are having this show to celebrate the time she spent with the band,” says Raymond. — Angela Jossy

[Eastside Club Tavern, Jan. 19, 9 p.m., $5, 410 Fourth Ave. E., Olympia, 360.357.9985] 

ian jones and the jones family fortune

With those Beatles inspired harmonies, clean guitars and sprinkles of melodic Hammond organ, Jones Family Fortune would fit perfectly into a lineup with fellow Tacoma indies The Cloves and The Lund Brothers. The band is Ian Jones on guitar, vocals and piano, Scott Martin on drums and vocals, Jason Gover on bass, and Derek Pulvino on lead guitar. You should know that Ian Jones is a hot guy. He’s always been a hot guy. I went to high school with him, and he was one of those people who are always referred to by both their first and last names, like John Tucker in that movie “John Tucker Must Die” — except Ian Jones must live because he’s a nice guy and his talents are too good to be missed. Trained on piano and guitar, Ian Jones has dabbled in country, Americana and folk music. His parents exposed him to Bob Dylan and The Beatles at a very young age. In high school he was into punk rock, new wave and bands such as R.E.M., The Smiths and David Bowie. Now he says he has at last found his own true sound with his indie rock band Jones Family Fortune. Listen to tracks from their upcoming album on their MySpace page:  With Aaron Spiro and Ted Wallis.  — Angela Jossy

[Jazzbones, Jan. 20, 9 p.m., $8, 2803 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, 253.396.9169]

cassandra robertson

I’ve never been a fan of overtly political messages in songs.  It seems too easy to take potshots at the government.  Moreover, an obvious protest song doesn’t stand the test of time and becomes dated over time.  Examples would be Neil Young’s anthem “Ohio,” which was about the military killings of students at Kent State, or Country Joe & the Fish’s “I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin-to-Die Rag,” which was a blatant protest against the Vietnam War.  An artist who can voice her opinion and at the same time create songs that are open to interpretation by the listener have a much better chance at surviving the changes that each year brings, and singer/songwriter Cassandra Robertson is one such artist.  Robertson is self-described as “acoustic conscious folk,” which fits her to a T as her words are socially aware but not preachy.  With her gentle vocals and luscious guitar work, she pens songs that carry a positive message while blending folk, rock, country and bluegrass effortlessly together.  Her debut disc, This Time is Now, was released in August of last year.  The 13 tracks on the poignant recording are varied both in lyrical content and musical styles. — Tony Engelhart 

[Eastside Club Tavern, Jan. 22, 7:30 p.m., donation, 410 E. Fourth St., Olympia, 360.357.9985]

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