By Anthony J. Machcinski
As time has gone by and music has evolved, many establishments have done away with hosting original bands, giving in to the bands that play the music of an era gone by. Donegal Saloon in Kearny isn’t one of those places, which allowed the crowd to be wowed by the performance of The Jack.
Bringing a new style back to the feel of the Allman Brothers and the Grateful Dead, The Jack classifies themselves as a jam band, evolving from their earlier days as a Rock ‘n’ Roll band.
“We came more from rock ‘n’ roll and evolved into a jam band,” said Bassist Adam Riley. “We went into more grooving stuff and wanted to let loose. Rock ‘n’ Roll will always be at the roots of our music.”
The band started in the early 90’s, as all the band members had been friends since growing up in Rutherford. The band was originally called One Eyed Jack, but when the former guitarist left, the band had to be renamed due to copyright; thus, The Jack was created, leaving the name similar to the old for simplicity’s sake.
Since The Jack’s reincarnation four years ago, the band has continued to be a mainstay in the Garden State.
“We’ve been playing Jersey for about 20 years,” said Riley. “If you play far away, you have to keep going out there. We’re at the point in our careers where we just want to consistently play.”
With families to support, the band hasn’t had the opportunity to travel outside of the state.
“(When we didn’t have families), there was a lot more freedom,” Riley noted. “Its not easy to just get up and go. We have our responsibilities at home.”
Despite familial responsibilities, the band has still managed to be successful in writing and producing their own music, a feat many musicians nowadays can’t claim.
“We’re always trying to get into the studio,” Riley explained.
When in the studio, The Jack has been able to produce their self-titled album, including five tracks that would make their predecessors proud. One track entitled “Liberty Bell” has the kind of groove found in some of the best funk songs of the ‘70s. The keyboard play of Squigs Minutello shines through the whole song, but never overpowers the performance of the other band members.
The Jack is even able to slow down their style and provide a powerful song in “Steal Your Crown.” The vocals of Kurt Balchan and Adam Riley provide a soulful performance to go over the top of Gary Gallagher’s blusier guitar playing and Alzie Sisco’s subtle drumbeat.
It is through the collective soul of the band that The Jack are able to do something not many bands can accomplish today, providing a new sound that crowds of all ages want to hear at bars, clubs, and other establishments.
“People (out-of-state) are more open-minded about the music you play,” Riley explained. “Jersey has a lot of cover bands and that’s why Donegal Saloon is so great. People just don’t expect you to play your own material.”
After playing Donegal Saloon on Feb. 24, the band will continue to play across New Jersey before booking Spring and Summer festivals around the state. To listen to the band’s music or to buy their album, visit www.thejacknj.com.