First an foremost, Jayke Orvis is a super picker, a mandolin maestro, with brilliant technical ability and taste; traits not always found in tandem. And rarely do you find in tandem with a superpicker superlative songwriting abilities, which Jayke also possesses. Numerous songs from his 2010 album It’s All Been Said showed of not only a great ear and deep, masterful songwriting, but the ability to shake it up, writing songs more composition-based like “Shady Grove Gypsy Moon” and “Dreadful Sinner”, and then turning around with a song like “Streets”, which is simple, fun, and straightforward, but as you delve into the lyrics they reveal a tremendous amount of soul.
And Jayke is not some studio whiz. Whether touring with Rachel Brooke and a mashup band of borrowed players, or adding an elemental hand to the madness and magic of a Goddamn Gallows show, Jayke toured a lot in 2010, and left an impression everywhere he went because of the breadth of his music prowess. I’m not going to call Jayke’s pipes golden, or his guitar playing impressionable. What I will say is when looking at all the factors that go into making a musician, Jayke scores tops in so many different was, it’s almost unfair.
Think about it like this: Jayke’s talent was important enough to form a record label around it in the name of Farmageddon Records, because many people saw it as imperative to share Jayke’s music with the rest of the world.
But erase all of that for just a second. Put all my glowing accolades aside. What do I always try to emphasize around here? That music is just the excuse. What we really talk about around here is life, and people, and the importance of certain priorities. Anyone can spend a bunch of free time learning how to play the guitar real well and be an asshole the rest of the time. When two of Jayke’s band mates in The Gallows were wrongly accused of a crime, Jayke didn’t cut and run or say “mum’s the word.” Jayke took the point, along with Darren at Farmageddon Records, in doing whatever was possible to set what was wrong back right. With honest, heartfelt compassion and empathy, he worked for the release of Quentin and Uriah, and through the efforts of him and many others, there is now hope for exoneration. I’m not saying the man’s a saint, but when it counted, he stepped up.
Does this leave egg on the face of the .357 String Band, which Jake was a part of and let go? No, I think it strengthens the influence and impact that band has had, and proves even more how much of a proving ground for creativity .357 has become. Jayke was let free so he could blossom, but at the same time, the combative and equally collaborative environment has created 3 amazing albums from that band, and now a handful of solo projects, including Jayke’s and another spectacular one from .357’s banjo player Joseph Huber called Bury Me Where I Fall. The .357 String band is our generation’s BR549, making stars out of all the individual members because of the rich environment it created.
Right now Jayke is in Nashville, recording a new album with The Gallows with the help of the hottest commodity in underground country recording, Hank III’s steel player Andy Gibson. After that I heard he is planning to head back to Pittsburgh, maybe tend bar and lay low for a while. Jayke has a son, and seems to appreciate some balance in his life. Whatever Jayke decides to do in the future, I hope he understands that to a lot of people, 2010 would have not been the same without him.
Jake also had the 2010 Video of the Year