The Jakob’s Ferry Stragglers draw freely from old-time, bluegrass, country, jazz, rockabilly and swing styles to create their tight, high-energy string band music. Well-crafted original songs with emotional depth, masterful picking, and resonant vocal harmonies combine to forge new territories and a fresh take on Appalachian Americana music. Band members Gary Antol, Libby Eddy, Ed Croft and Joe Dep hail from the mountains and river towns of southwestern Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio.
Well known in the Americana music circuit throughout the mid-Atlantic region, The Jakob’s Ferry Stragglers are big crowd-pleasers at The Great Blue Heron, The Three Rivers Arts Festival, Flood City Music Festival, Whiskey Rebellion Festival, Hickory Fest, Smoked Country Jam, Modesto Unplugged Music Festival, BayGrass Bluegrass, Sleepy Creek SpringDig, Laurel Hill Bluegrass Festival, and others. The band recently showcased their unique and innovative style of Appalachian roots music on a national tour, winning over new fans from Colorado to California, Arizona to Oklahoma. Their recording of “Mannington #9”, a searing tale of lives lost in a mining disaster written by West Virginia native Keith McManus, was included in Relix Magazine’s 2015 Summer CD Sampler.
The Jakob’s Ferry Stragglers have opened for The Steeldrivers, The Carolina Chocolate Drops, The Black Lillies, Town Mountain, David Davis and The Warrior River Boys, Larry Keel, Jeff Austin, The Felice Brothers, Mike Compton, Grand Ol’ Ditch, The Rumpke Mountain Boys, The Hillbilly Gypsies, and Frank Solivan and The Dirty Kitchen.
“Blistering guitar riffs and hammer blow fiddle licks blended with sublime vocals and stirring harmonies, this is not a band to be missed or trifled with.” Adam Gerschwindner, Appalachian Jamwich
“This old timey/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
Gary Antol: Guitar/Vocals/Mandolin
Born and raised in the Washington County, Pennsylvania town of California, Gary grew up in the foothills of Appalachia. His musical journey began at the age of 5 when his father began to give him guitar lessons in an attempt to avoid the destruction of the household guitar. After a few years of lessons from his dad, he studied with notable Pittsburgh area guitarist Rick Mals. As a high school student he played saxophone and guitar and won awards for songwriting and composition in Pennsylvania’s statewide Reflections Contest. He was also invited to participate in the district and regional honors bands. He attended Duquesne University where he received a Bachelor of Music in sound recording technology and jazz guitar, studying with Pittsburgh jazz legend Joe Negri. After graduation, he spent a few years playing on cruise ships and in amusement parks, playing all styles of music. He later spent four years in Nashville, were he rediscovered his love for roots music. After moving home, he spent one year as the lead guitarist for Ruff Creek, a southwestern Pennsylvania country band. In 2010, he co-founded The Weedrags, a bluegrass/country band, finally finding a home in music that he loved. The band toured extensively throughout the northeast, winning the 2011 Pittsburgh Acoustic Challenge, and releasing two albums: The Weedrags in 2011, and The Deemston Hiccup in 2013. Gary’s song “The Breadline” aired as a TV commercial for Red Blue Voice, a pro union affiliated organization.
Libby Eddy: Fiddle/Vocals
Libby is no stranger to the heritage of Appalachia. Raised in West Virginia, she and her family frequented bluegrass festivals throughout her childhood, and a typical Saturday night out was attending the local square dance. She learned to play fiddle from her father and to sing from her mother. For ten years (age 10-20), Libby was accepted into the West Virginia American Choral Directors Association performances. She also attended the MENC Southeast Women’s Choir Convention in 2002.
At age 15 Libby won First Prize at the Maryland State Championship Fiddle Contest. She attended West Liberty University for Operatic Perfomance, ranking high in state adjudications multiple years. In 2009 she was awarded First Place in the West Virginia Idol Contest. She has performed with her sister, Rachel, throughout her life making appearances on NPR radio broadcasts, The Worley Gardener Music Festival and The Great Blue Heron Music Festival. She has played with bands such as 85 Flood, The Weathered Road, Poor Taters, and 600 lbs of Sin, and made guest appearances with Larry Keel and The Natural Bridge, Big Leg Emma and Donna the Buffalo.
Joe Dep: Banjo
Joe Dep, banjoist, is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Joe’s initial inspirations emerged from hearing Jerry Garcia playing banjo. With a strong desire to learn from the best, Joe spent many summers studying banjo at the DelFest Academy in Cumberland, Maryland. He then landed a spot at the prestigious Berklee School of Music in Boston, where he had the pleasure of studying under the banjo maestro, Tony Trischka. The rich environment of Berklee and the Boston music scene allowed Joe to soak up the sounds of different cultures and as a result Joe grew as a musician, a composer, and an arranger. It is apparent from listening to him that he pulls inspiration from more than just the bluegrass genre. In addition to the Jakob’s Ferry Stragglers, Joe is also a founding member of the Shelf Life String Band in Pittsburgh. Joe Dep is on a mission to feed the musical fire ……. a revitalized thirst for the eclecticism that is inherent in string band music.
Ed Croft: Upright Bass/ Vocals
Born in Peekskill, NY, to a railroad conductor father and a watercolor artist mother, both music lovers, Croft developed a love for music at an early age. His earliest memory is listening to Randy Travis cassettes in the passenger seat of his father’s car. His passion for music was nurtured with the gift of a guitar for his tenth birthday.
Two years later, he received an upright bass as a gift from his grandfather, a local luthier. As a high school student, he frequently performed with blues legend Carolina Slim. After graduation he attended SUNY Fredonia, where he received a degree in music education. He recently received his Masters in jazz studies from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. Ed has performed with Tess Wiley of Six Pence None the Richer, jazz legend Mike Stern, Dave Samuels of Spyro Gyra, and Jazz/Rockabilly great, Morgen Stiegler. Ed has also played bass in Seth McFarland cartoon drummer Greg Westoff’s Big Band. Ed is super excited to be working with The Jakob’s Ferry Stragglers and looking forward to the future.