Wild oaks have grown where a beard once flowed.
Since the demise of Old Man’s Beard, earlier this year, one of the group’s two songwriters, Jesse Clarke, has taken another path, opening his own studio and forming a new duo.
“Old Man’s Beard was fun, but it was hard to keep five people on the same page and have the same vision,” Clarke says. “Overall it was a beautiful experience and we’re all still friends.”
In the meantime, the 26-year-old musician has teamed up with Jacob Verburg, another popular area artist, to write and perform as The Wild Oaks.
Clarke says he has been writing more than ever, deriving inspiration from the beauty of the outdoors, by art and by the literature he has been reading.
Inspiration in place, Clarke says he and Verburg have recorded three songs with Verburg on guitar and Clarke on guitar, mandolin and ukulele, and both on vocals.
He describes their music as progressive, indie, folk and says the name, The Wild Oaks, literally dropped out of the blue.
“I was sitting under an oak tree playing a guitar and an acorn hit me on the head. I looked up at the tree and just said ‘this fits.’ It fits with what we’re doing,” he says, noting that this partnership is more of a joint effort than any other project he’s been involved in. “It’s something we’re passionate about and excited about, to be creative together.”
Clarke has taken another musical step by opening Earthtone Studios, a professional recording studio in Sunnybrae.
The recording engineer for the one CD released by Old Man’s Beard, Clarke says he had invested in expensive gear and the album was recorded in a house in downtown Salmon Arm.
Earthtone Studios was officially launched in March after Clarke completed business training through Community Futures.
“I’ve been playing around recording stuff for about seven years,” he says, noting he has worked with Sasha Lewis, Birchbark, and recorded six songs on Songs for the Shuswap and Active Light.
Clarke acted as a judge at this year’s Shuswap Idol at Fall Fair and donated several hours of recording time to the winners.
A native of Thunder Bay, Ont., Clarke attributes his accomplishments to growing up in a musical family – mom, Maureen, is a harp player and dad, Don, is a singer-songwriter and guitar player.
“I kinda grew up with dad plying his folk songs – Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, that sort of music, and from a very young age I was hitting pots and pans.”
His parents owned a “funky art and gifts store,’ which is where he began playing an African djimbe (drum). That segued into piano lessons.
“My parents bought me a drum kit when I was 14 and I played in my dad’s rock band,” he says noting that when they played in pubs, he had to go outside in between sets – whatever the weather. “It was a really good experience.”
Clarke’s new Earthtone Studios is also the venue for lessons in music – guitar, piano, harp, vocals and songwriting, and art – drawing, acrylic, water colour, oil and airbrush.
The Wild Oaks are the feature act at the Sunnybrae Coffee House Saturday, Oct. 8 and will perform Oct. 15 at Sturgis North Pub along with the Boom Booms and Shelby Babakiof.
Clarke describes the Boom Booms as a six-piece Latin, soul, reggae band from Vancouver that performs a very clean, crisp, tropical sound in Spanish and English.
“They’re the real deal, they’re talented,” Clarke says. “They’re gonna take you to the beaches of South America.”
Shelby Babakiof is an up-and-coming Salmon Arm musician who, accompanied by Darren Herting, will perform soul-rock-country.
As to their own performances, Clarke is asking audiences to be open to their new own particular sound.
“We hope people can listen to this with a fresh set of ears and not expect to hear the same sounds we had in previously, not Old Man’s Beard and not the Verberg Herting Trio,” he says. “We’re making new music together and we don’t want people to have expectations.”
For information and bookings, call 250-835-2077 for lessons and 250-253-7073 for recording.