Hailing from the mountain towns of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Maryland, The Jakob’s Ferry Stragglers draw freely from Old-Time, Bluegrass, Rockabilly, and Swing music to create their own brand of high energy, Appalachian Bluegrass. As an offshoot of a former project, The Weedrags, JFS was formed by Gary Antol (Songwriter/Guitar/Vocals) and Libby Eddy (Fiddle/Vocals) in 2014 with a very simple goal: write good songs, have fun, and take it to the road. In the time since, JFS has appeared at festivals from New England to Florida and played club dates from the eastern seaboard to the west coast.
In 2015, the band released their debut album, The Lane Change, a collection of both original and traditional songs focusing on journeys through personal relationships as well as life in the coal mining towns of central Appalachia. The album was well received by fans and critics alike. “Mannington #9,” a searing tale of lives lost in a 1968 mining disaster in Mannington, WV, was featured in the Relix Magazine 2015 Summer CD Sampler. Written by West Virginia storyteller and old-time musician, Keith McManus, the song’s driving rhythm and haunting melody capture the loss suffered by 78 families in this tragic accident. The Lane Change also featured the powerhouse harmonies of Antol and Eddy on titles such as “No Ash Will Burn” and “Blue Diamond Mines.”
”This old time/bluegrass style quartet’s 2015 CD entitled ‘The Lane Change’ provides a much appreciated lift of fresh and thoroughly engaging music...a band that could literally rock a dance tent with nonstop energy.” Mark Panfil, buffalobluegrass.com
“The Jakob’s Ferry Stragglers are a daring and talented young bunch, and I can only hope that they manage to reach out and unite the bluegrass and old-time communities as easily as their music does.” Bluegrass Unlimited, June 2015.
Summer of 2016 saw two major highlights for the band. In addition to playing The Emerging Artist Showcase at Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, the band released its sophomore effort, White Lightning Road. The title track, written by Fort Wayne, IN songwriter, Darren Hunt, follows the path of a moonshiner trying to survive in a dying coal town. The song’s soaring vocals showcase Libby Eddy’s uniquely Appalachian voice, steeped in the cultural traditions of her rural West Virginia upbringing, with the strength of a people ready to fight for survival. Hunt also contributed to Ray Steven’s inspired and instantly familiar, “Get Along Gone.” Appalachian Jamwhich called the album “flat out one of the best bluegrass albums released this year.” WYEP FM Pittsburgh listed White Lightning Road as one of the top ten bluegrass albums of 2016. WYEP has also featured two of Antol’s compositions on their “Local 913” program: “The Legend of Gandy Grey” (The Lane Change) and “Smokestacks” (White Lightning Road).