Before rock music splintered into 101 permutations — gothabilly, anyone? — there existed a song-centric form that was, and is, the specialty of what rock historians refer to as the power trio.
And there may be no finer power trio than Jerry Joseph & The Jackmormons, who've been plying their sonic trade for 17 years. On a tour promoting his new double album, “Happy Book,” Joseph and his Jackmormons — JR Ruppel (bass) and Steve Drizos (drums) — will return to Players Bar & Grill in Bend on Saturday (see “If you go”).
Joseph certainly thinks the band is good, as this quote from the trio's official bio says: “The reason I play in this band, the reason I go through what I go through to be in this band, is there's always a point when we're onstage that I think, ‘Man, if there's a better f---ing three-piece rock band in America I don't know who they are.' It doesn't happen all the time, but when it does it's a reminder that this is a once-in-a-lifetime band.”
Joseph — a gritty, heart-baring songwriter who is sort of like the jam scene's answer to Mike Ness — is a lot humbler than that quote makes it sound. And if his ego should get the better of him, he could always return to Asia, where he recently played around Cambodia (“a lot of Cambodia,” he said), Thailand and Malaysia during a four-week tour that was filmed by a documentarian.
As a friend who lived in Cambodia called it, “It was the Jerry Joseph humility tour,” Joseph told The Bulletin last week. “Because most of the time, people couldn't care less; I was just, like, another gringo playing folk songs as far as they were concerned.”
Overall, the tour was great, if difficult. “The gigs were all very different. Nothing was the same. You'd get to Kuala Lumpur (in Malaysia), and it's like the nicest sound systems in the world. And then you'd be in Kampot, Cambodia, where I wasn't (sure) they knew what a sound system was.”
Joseph said he writes new material in clusters, including the 15 songs on “Happy Book,” which drops Tuesday but will be available at the Bend show.
“I never sit down to try to do stuff thematically, but I just had this really intense time where my son was born and my father had died, and it all happened, like, in a couple of weeks,” Joseph said.
Many of the songs are about how “the greatest moments and the saddest moments are sometimes the same ... moment,” he said.
When we offer our congratulations on the birth of his son — and condolences about his father — the philosophical Joseph laughed and replied, “It's OK. He understood I needed s--t to write about.”