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The latest from the western Pennsylvania-based Jakob’s Ferry Stragglers, a self-described “Appalachian bluegrass” band, features a collection of originals by bandmembers Gary Antol and Joe Dep, plus some traditional tunes. Two well-chosen covers that really show off the old-time instrumentation and natural vocal blend between guitar/mandolin player Gary Antol and fiddler Libby Eddy are Peter Rowan’s masterful “Thirsty In The Rain” and the old-time standard penned by Si Kahn, “Wild Rose Of The Mountain.”

This band is an offshoot of a former project, The Weedrags. Antol, Eddy, Ed Croft (bass), and Dep (banjo) hail from mountain towns in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Maryland. The goal when they put the band together in 2014 was to “write good songs, have fun, and take it to the road.” This, they appear to be doing successfully. The title track, written by Darren Hunt, is the story of a moonshiner trying to survive in a dying coal town. We raise our jugs to Southern stars and drink to better times is something we can all probably relate to—although the contents of our jugs may vary. Darren Hunt also contributed the swingy, Ray Stevens-inspired song “Get Along Gone.”

The B-part on the first track, “Red Prairie Dawn,” is a particularly fine melody that puts one in mind of  driving down a summertime country road with the windows rolled down. “Tight Like That” has a jug band vibe and memorable lyrics: Mama killed a chicken / Thought it was a duck / Put him on the table with his legs stuck up. On the Antol original “Smokestacks,” the singer gets creative with his romantic compliments. He tells his love (in no particular order): I like myself reflected in your eyes…I like the way you like your chicken fried…I love the shifting colors in your eyes…I love the way your accent drives me wild. “Country Melodies,” written by Joe Dep, is another great driving song ending in an instrumental jam that brings to mind the Dirt Band’s “Ripplin’ Waters.” The band pulls off “Billy In The Low Ground” with an earthy scratch, and Antol’s “The Breadline” features thought-provoking lyrics. Be sure to check out this band if they come rolling through your town, and bring your dancing shoes. (

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