Jayme Stone brings his “Folklife” concert to Field Arts & Events Hall this Friday. (photo courtesy of Jayme Stone)

Jayme Stone brings his “Folklife” concert to Field Arts & Events Hall this Friday. (photo courtesy of Jayme Stone)

‘Folklife’ to unfold at Field Hall on Friday

PORT ANGELES — There’s so much good music out there — songs from across America and beyond, said Jayme Stone, who’ll bring his “Folklife” performance to Port Angeles this week.

“I think about an entire show being as much like a theater piece as a concert,” added Stone, who looks for a balance between creating a spell with the music and sharing the stories behind the songs.

He’s out on tour for the first time in more than a year and will appear at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Field Arts & Events Hall, 201 W. Front St.; tickets are on sale at fieldhallevents.org.

The renowned father-and-son recording team of John and Alan Lomax are among Stone’s strongest inspirations.

During the 1930s, the Lomax project brought forward the first field recordings of Muddy Waters, Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly and Jelly Roll Morton, among others.

Stone and his musical companions use these gems as jumping-off points, making an album titled “Folklife” full of fresh takes on traditionals along with new songs.

When it comes time to take the stage, he hopes to “create a container inside a performance space that invites people to drop in and feel community,” Stone said. This is the place where he and his audience find out where music can take them together.

In a review of “Folklife” in the magazine RootsWorld, critic Greg Harness wrote that Stone’s “Folklife” record is studded not only with good old tunes but also “sparkling new treasures.”

This aligns with Stone and friends’ desire to treat the traditional songs like heirloom recipes: They’ve cultivated Sea Island spirituals, Appalachian dance tunes and Creole calypsos in their sets.

The group cooks up a participatory concert, picking out a ballad from the British Isles, a song Stone learned in Mali, West Africa, and “I Want to Hear Somebody Pray,” a tune Alan Lomax recorded when he was supposed to be on vacation in the Caribbean.

“Alan had a thirsty mind, a thirsty ear,” Stone said. “He spent his whole vacation recording people singing a capella and clapping.”

Stone wrote a banjo part for “I Want to Hear Somebody Pray,” and found that, in concert, the audience picks up their singing part easily.

This Friday, Stone also plans to stir in “Blackjack Davey,” a traditional that has been sung by Bob Dylan and Taj Mahal.

“It’s a feminist power ballad,” Stone said, about a woman who falls in love with an itinerant musician and runs off with him.

“A lot of this music is older than a lot of us,” said Stone, adding he hopes to keep planting these folk-song seeds in fresh soil, “so they can keep spreading and sprouting.”

Stone, who is from Toronto, Canada, and now lives in Longmont, Colo., acknowledged that he tends to love music from outside the community he was born in.

Hence his study of music makers, melodies and stories from across lands and oceans.

“That seems to be a quirk of my lifetime,” he noted: Whenever Stone hears something foreign, he wants to learn all about it.


Diane Urbani de la Paz is a freelance writer and photographer living in Port Townsend.

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