Jack Burton Overdrive: Tarbell Street

Sep 15, 2015

As is so often the case with many bands, the roots of Jack Burton Overdrive can be found in the long-lasting friendship between founding members Jack Rininger and Nick Barrows [JetLab]. Jack and Nick have been writing and playing music together for decades and, in 2006, decided to embark on an exploration of popular music played on the concertina and the ukulele. These experiments resulted in a loveably quirky and endearing bohemian-style of front-porch music making.

Four years later, Barrows and Rininger added drummer Dave Welsh [JetLab, FrogMan] and guitarist John Stork to the JBO roster to round out the sound and the sphere of musical influence. 

In the winter of 2014, Jack Burton Overdrive went into the studio with Ben Cochran at Soap Floats Recording to create their first 10-track album entitled Tarbell Street. The band's goal in creating this album was to "capture the late night freedom of wandering Cincinnati’s vibrant entertainment districts with a pocket full of singles, following the different sounds emanating from the lively nightclubs and bars." 

The sound of Tarbell Street manages to be distinctly Cincinnati without being provincial and Cochran does an excellent job of making the sound of this 4-piece acoustic ensemble expansive and gutsy.

As the name might imply, the foundation of Jack Burton Overdrive can be linked to popular culture as well as a wide variety of musical genres. Rininger and Barrows' songwriting "formula" is heavily influenced by British popular music such as The Beatles and XTC - however, strong ties to Robyn Hitchcock, R.E.M. and "Weird" Al Yankovic can also be sensed.

The album opens with "Contract," a piece that showcases Barrow's unique vocal style and his avant-garde, stream-of-consciousness poetry. This is counterbalanced by the light-hearted and humorous attitude exemplified in pieces such as "Service Light."

Another wellspring of JBO music is They Might Be Giants, as evidenced by both "Paducah" and "Episode for Revenge," which sounds like it could stand-in as the theme for a late 1960's film noir spy drama. Similarly, the music of "Posture and Lean" feels like it is pulled directly from the score of a Sergio Leone spaghetti western.

By the end of Tarbell Street you reach the track entitled "Stoop Song" and this is where the whole JBO experience comes to fruition. Like a small band of wine-soaked gypsies playing late into the night, Barrows and company strangle out one last song before the cops come to chase them off. The dark intimacy that radiates from this opus puts one in the mind of Tom Waits wandering through the French Quarter, looking for a long-lost friend.

The release of Tarbell Street by Jack Burton Overdrive will take place Saturday, September 19 at ​Barrio Tequileria at ​3937 Spring Grove Ave in Northside.