A natural feel
A fresh, new folk trio is quickly charming audiences around the Rogue Valley with three-part harmonies and a mix of contemporary and traditional folk, bluegrass, Americana and country music.
Dandelion Jo weaves lead vocals by Liz Jones; fiddle, mandolin and guitar by Dan Doshier; and acoustic stand-up bass by David Hand. Their sound is nostalgic and progressive, creating a warm vibe that appeals to old and new lovers of old-time music.
"I would call it eclectic folk," Jones says.
The trio borrows songs from artists such as Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Arlo Guthrie, as well as contemporary composers Nanci Griffith, Dolly Parton and Alison Krauss, she says.
"We take familiar songs and give them a new feel, a comfortable, down-home feel," Jones says. "We are also putting the polish on some of our own material."
Dandelion Jo is slated for two gigs during the upcoming week. The trio will perform with bluegrass group The Mighty Lonesomes at 9:30 p.m. Friday, March 14, at Johnny B's, 35 S. Bartlett St., Medford, and for a St. Patrick's Day party at 6 p.m. Monday, March 17, at the Stage Coach Saloon, 105 W. California St., Jacksonville.
Jones says that the contemporary influence on the trio's music is more her own than Hand's or Doshier's.
"Dan brings in more of a country flavor," Jones says. Doshier's interest in stringed instruments has led him to ownership of Zion's Books and Music in Central Point, where he specializes in collectible and vintage instruments.
Jones moved to the Rogue Valley from Charlottesville, Va. — home of the Blue Ridge Mountains and lots of Appalachian bluegrass music. With a background like that, she had to become a folk musician eventually.
"People always told me I had a nice voice," Jones says. "But I had the worst stage fright. I couldn't even sing in front of a few family members."
So she joined the Southern Oregon Songwriters Association to overcome her fear and met Doshier at one of SOSA's open mic sessions. Soon the two were playing music together and decided to take the next step and add a third member.
"We found David by putting an ad on Craigslist," Jones says. "He's an electric rock convert. He's played with a lot of local bands, but he was looking for a change."
Along with his alternative style, Hand brings a light perspective and Beatles-style harmonies to the trio, Jones says.
"The three of us clicked right away," Jones says. "And audiences seem to like the mix."
Dandelion Jo began playing at venues around the Rogue Valley and, for a group that's been together a short time, quickly came up with a few songs for a demo. They include a version of The Carter Family's "Gold Watch and Chain" that will whisk the listener back to Minnesota Public Radio's "A Prairie Home Companion," along with earthy, heartfelt arrangements of Dolly Parton's "Jolene" and Brian McKnight's "Do I Ever Cross Your Mind?" Hear the songs at myspace.com/dandelionjo or dandelionjo.com online.
Jones says she's enjoying the fact that she can share her voice with an audience.
"The feedback has been good, and now I'm having a lot of fun on stage," she says. "It's exciting for me."
Jones, Doshier and Hand like to keep things lighthearted during performances. The boys are the comedians of the trio, always full of jokes and antics, Jones says.
"We take turns singing lead vocals, and we trade-off verses during a song," Jones says. "We like to mix things up. We're thinking about taking turns playing different instruments during our shows."
Jones embarks on an extended trip to Melbourne, Australia, with her family at the end of the month, but audiences can expect to see more performances by Dandelion Jo after she returns.
The folk trio is slated for Central Point's outdoor concert series this summer and the annual Siskiyou Bluegrass Festival held in July at Lake Selmac.
"We're having a great time kicking things off," Jones says.
Cover for the show at Johnny B's is $5; there is no cover at the Stage Coach Saloon.