Calico Jacks profile on the rise

Moncton band Calico Jacks are one of the many bands performing as a part of the Touchdown Atlantic music festival, Downtown Touchdown, that will be taking place on Main Street starting on Thursday.

The band hits the stage that night accompanying fellow Moncton bands Old School and The Divorcees, along with Vishtèn.

Comprised of band members Kevin Arthur, Lucky Knave, Riff Rogers and T-Bone Marshall, Calico Jacks was formed in 2003 and initially played together under the band name Doghouse.

“In the beginning, it was very informal,” Arthur says. “It was more-less guys that like playing music that were also getting to know one another and be comfortable with each other.”

Doghouse was originally conceived as a quintet however the group’s fifth member decided that his level of interest in the band just wasn’t there and amicably stepped aside. Arthur recalls that a show the group performed at the pub at Mount Allison University in 2005 gave the quartet the confidence and encouragement they needed to continue performing as a four-piece band.

“We really clicked at that show and realized that there were some great elements contained within the band that were worth pursuing.”

From that point forward, the group worked towards honing their sound and developing a strong catalogue of material to perform. While the group has a selection of cover songs that they regularly play, they also have a batch of six to eight original tracks they have written and are constantly working on writing more.

“We have three songwriters within the band, each with a very distinct style of writing. Everyone in the band is definitely pushing songwriting more and more but for a group playing bars here in Moncton, many owners want bums in seats and they get that with cover songs.

“It is a fine line that we have to walk between playing covers and originals. In the bigger picture though, it’s not about us as a band; it’s about what the venue or show organizer wants from us. We’re often happy to oblige organizers with whatever they are looking to get from us.”

Though cover songs will remain an integral part of Calico Jacks sets for the immediate future, Arthur is optimistic that a full-length CD of original tunes from the band will become a reality in the very near future.

“We’ve had a very successful and busy year so far. I’m thinking that over the next six months, we will be spending a little more time on the original side of things,” he says.

The band played on top of Moncton City Hall earlier this year, recreating the Beatles 1969 London gig, and it has played at the Atlantic Nationals, Sussex Balloon Festival and Shediac Motorcycle Rally.

“We’ve been chipping away at writing new songs but realistically, we are still a little way off from having an album’s worth of material ready,” Arthur says.

“We want to be sure that when we do record, we have more than enough songs ready so that we can pick from the best of the best to make the final cut.

“But then there are a lot of questions that come with releasing an album: Do we push for radio play or do we do things completely on our own terms and let the chips fall where they may? With three songwriters in the band, we would ultimately want the finished product to sound as cohesive as possible. There are definitely a lot of things to consider.”

Article published in September 20, 2010 edition of the Times & Transcript