The Jacob Jolliff Band kicks off the return of national touring acts to The Myrna Loy in Helena following the pandemic shutdown. The progressive bluegrass band takes the Myrna stage at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 5, before heading to the Sweet Pea Festival in Bozeman for a performance in Lindley Park at 7 p.m. Aug. 6.
A mandolin master, who started playing the instrument at age 7, Jolliff was the 2012 National Mandolin Champion.
“I’m really excited to get back to The Myrna Loy stage,” he said, adding that he’d played here a decade ago with the popular indie roots band Joy Kills Sorrow. After that band took a hiatus, the legendary jamgrass group Yonder Mountain String Band scooped him up.
“I think we have a unique sound,” he says of the virtuosic pickers he’s pulled together in the Jacob Jolliff Band.
The Helena concert mixes highly arranged instrumental music that pulls from the bluegrass and fiddle-tune idioms.
“We’ll be playing a lot of my original instrumental music, as well as some trad bluegrass, some covers, but mostly originals,” says Jolliff. “We put a lot of emphasis on instrumental improvising and playing off one another.”
In addition to virtuosity, musical interaction and spontaneity are trademarks of the band, which has been lauded as a “foot-stomping, soul-soaring ensemble” by The HillRag.
Jolliff, who was largely self-taught on the mandolin, played in a bluegrass gospel band throughout middle school and high school with his father. He went on to earn a full-ride scholarship to the Berklee School of Music.
He’s met and performed with many of his musical heroes, among them David Grisman, Chris Thile and Ronnie McCoury.
In addition to Jolliff on mandolin and vocals, the supergroup features Stash Wyslouch on guitar and vocals; Myles Sloniker, bass and vocals; and Rob Hecht on fiddle.
Jolliff is the first touring artist The Myrna Loy has booked since Covid began, says The Myrna Loy director, Krys Holmes. “We picked them to be first because they’re so joyous, and so rousing in person,” she says.
Performing in the intimate theater, with its new air-purified A/C system, the Jacob Jolliff Band delivers “just the kind of excellent experience The Myrna Loy brings to Montana.”
Tickets are $23 and available online, the box office at 15 N. Ewing, or by phone, 406-443-0287.