-By Jonathan Perry


Jabe Beyer knows it’s a disgusting metaphor before he even brings it up. But bear with him, he pleads.

“I always relate songs to puking,” says the singer-songwriter who leads the acclaimed roots-rocking Boston outfit JABE. “You think you’re gonna puke, you just don’t know when. But when it comes out, you can’t stop it. And you can see all the stuff inside you.” Beyer apologizes when the unsavory moment is over and he’s finished making his very vivid point. It’s one well taken, though. His band’s latest album, “Drama City” (out on his own Woodeye Records label and available at, can also be heard as a reflex action to the emotional upheaval that afflicted all four members of the group last year. The album, cut mostly live in a three room cabin in Plymouth, also happens to be the best thing he has ever done.

“We made the record in a week and when I listened back I thought, ‘Wow, this is pretty melodramatic,’” says Beyer, who through word of mouth has built a strong local following (and not one but two CD-Release parties, slated to April 4 and 5 at the Lizard Lounge, testify to his popularity).

“Every night you’d go out and people were getting into arguments, couples breaking up, or somebody would get arrested or their car stolen. So to me, Boston was Drama City.” Hapless love affairs, dashed dreams, and fractured friendships all reside inside songs such as the high octane banjo-driven opener “Those Times Are Over,” the Pogues-style jig “Into a Wall,” and the meditative “Pitch Black Road.” But even at its most subdued, Jabe's music is a quiet storm of desire and disillusion. Buried somewhere inside all the bleakness, though, he says, is always a flicker of hope.

“We have a song called ‘Can’t Be That Bad’ and in writing that I was saying, ‘Yeah, it might be like you’re growing up too fast or you’re in the wrong town or you don’t know what the hell you’re doing and your best friend just became somebody you can’t talk to anymore’,” Beyer says. “But if you don’t hold out for that light at the end of the tunnel it’s going to turn on you really fast, and you’re going to go deeper into yourself where it’s dark.”

The native of upstate New York moved from Boston to New Hampshire last year, but his music has never bothered with boundaries. His songs, built from a combustible mix of electrified violin, banjo, mandolin, guitar, and propulsive percussion, is an effortless amalgam of rock, folk, and bluegrass. His band--which includes bass player Jay Aucella, drummer Dave Westner, and multi-instrumentalist Sean Staples—is top-notch, capable of Crazy Horse stomp one moment and Old 97’s swing the next.

Beyer’s warm, earthy voice echoes Bruce Springsteen, and it’s a perfect match for the rustic, hard-won lessons and truths found in Jabe’s songs.

“On the most primal level, I’m just trying to explain myself to myself,” he says before catching himself. “Not that I have the answers to anything.”


CD Review: JABE going places with new CD  By Jamie Perkins

"Where Are We Going & When Do We Get There," the new album by JABE, sees these New England alt-country faves maturing to a fuller sound while continuing to churn out their consistently catchy brand of cowpoke pop. "Where & When" contains a full spectrum of songs, and you can hear the band reveling in the sturdy offbeat groove of "Believe" (featuring ex-Morphine sax player Dana Colley) and in the skewered, manic thumping of the tragic anthem "Bound To Drown" (featuring local roots rock godfather Jon Nolan on pedal steel and sideburns). "May You Always Be Blue" is a quiet slow-burner, the kind of tune David Lynch would put behind a montage of some pompadoured loner smoking a cigarette while driving through the desert at night, while "Broken Back Road" sets the pace with a lazy groove propelling a triumphant, hooky single ... which, in light of a certain recent Oscar-winning film, can be taken in a whole new separate cultural context. Of course I digress.

The production on "Where & When" is more lush and airy than its predecessors, with many guests playing many instruments at many different studios. The result is a variety of atmosphere and mood for the entirety of the album. Pedal steel slides up and down in the mix, a female harmony will appear in the verse and then a mandolin, violin, cello, or piano will take over for a few bars. The diversity and the many great performances lend the whole of the album a certain grace.

It must also be said that Jabe Beyer is really a noteworthy songwriter. Lyrically he has a clever way with phrasing and metaphor, and melodically he has remained instinctive and infectious. Beyer’s distinctive tenor lends itself well to his easygoing vocal melodies and conversationally poetic lyrics. Nothing political or temporally challenging here, just good, earnest pop songs wrapped up in a refreshingly quaint country-rock package.


BOSTON HERALD – March 28, 2003

Jabe - Drama City

(Woodeye Records): Local rockers Jabe show plenty of heart and poise on their new CD "Drama City."

Jabe, featuring New Hampshire resident Jabe Beyer (vocals); Jay Aucella (bass); Dave Westner (drums); and Sean Staples (mandolin), is a mix of early Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash and the Pogues. The songs on "Drama City" are direct, amped and boisterous.

Several tracks stand out. "Those Times Are Over," "Crazy Anne Marie," and "Damn Them Big Brown Eyes" are excellent. I also was partial to "Kelly McGuire," though, for a different reason. I admit the song is peppy but I liked it so much is because my cousin's wife is named Kelly Maguire. (OK, it's spelled differently but it sounds the same.) At points the jams or interplay becomes a little overwrought and tedious. Toning some of them down ("Can't Be That Bad") would have worked a little better.

Jabe's lyrics are amusing and brutally honest. In "Into a Wall," he sings, "I been singing songs since the day I was born/My voice is shot but my heart is torn/My fingers are busted and all I got to show for it is debt/I shoulda listened to my father I coulda been a doctor/Or one of those guys who gets paid/No matter who wins the bet." The second disc in this set consists of a CD-ROM with three videos, a trio of unreleased MP3s (two of which are live) and a link to the band's web site.

"Drama City" features a batch of intriguing - and intense - tunes. It is musically comprehensive and definitely deserves a listen.  "Drama City" will be released on April 8



May 2003

Review by editor in chief  (rated 10.5 on scale of 1-12)

How on earth have I missed this in the past? I know I listened to an earlier album, but either I was a moron or it wasn't good. Judging by his latest, Drama City, I was probably a moron. In fact, I saw him live in Cambridge a couple years ago, even that really didn't do anything for me. Again, I was probably a moron. Jabe's new CD is fun, emotive, earnest and complex.

It took me just one listen through to choose two particular songs for me to obsess over. For a guy that has been part of our New Hampshire music scene, he has flown under Jam's radar. He has become a well-revered and respected musician in our scene and Boston's. For those like me who have missed out, Drama City is a blend of Americana and grunge. That's about the best I can Describe Jabe's unigue rootsy style. Have Kurt Cobain sing for Bruce Springsteen's compositions, something like that.

The ballad "Can't Be That Bad" is unbelievable. Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum would wish he could sound so earnest on their power ballad "Runaway Train.” Jabe conveys a sense of hope and compassion for those who feel their lives/jobs are the worst and life sucks. While his vocals and guitars are certainly wonderful, his band puts it all together. Jay Aucella on bass, Dave Westner on percussion and Sean Staples on mandolin really push this time. Major kudos on the mandolin, which I am a sucker for, but it's existence in this song alone in mind-blowing.

"Kelly McGuire" is at the other end of the spectrum. It's a fun, upbeat tune about a woman who the narrator once had a relationship with, and would again. "Kelly McGuire" came from New Mexico/Moved up here about 7 years ago/She's writing her dissertation on poetry/She's gonnan be a doctor/What the hell is she doin' blowin' me?" In this one, guest Eric Royer supplies a great rockin' banjo. The best powered up banjo I've heard since Sixteen Horsepower.

Everything else in between is pretty damn good too. Trapsing around a rootsy world of differing tempos, stringed and other instruments (fiddle, slide, organ, harmonica, accordion, dobro, and cello), fun or serious lyrics, and tight musicianship, Drama City is a place I want to be. One additional thing: there's a second CD in this package. The extra disc is a CD-ROM containing a few MP3s, including live versions of older tunes, and videos.


SOUNDCHECK MAGAZINE - JULY 2003 by Debbie Catalano

Drama City (2 Discs)

This is all about texture - layers of earthy rhythms and inspiring grooves all drawn from the spirit of roots music. A medley of instruments like mandolin, banjo, fiddle, accordion, and harmonica, along with electric, acoustic, and slide guitars, bass (acoustic, electric, double), and drums and percussion are responsible for the wonderfully smoky flavor of Jabe's music. Team this blend with the first-rate playing of Jabe's band - Jay Aucella (bass), Dave Westner (drums), and Sean Staples (mandolin), and Jabe's edgy, folksy songwriting and vocal style, and you've got what I consider an outstanding album. I can't say enough about "Drama City" - I am captivated; completely tingling from the vibes this emanated. Along with this stimulating 13-song CD, "Drama City" features a second CD with three videos and three MP3s. This was an excellent idea as it gives people a chance to get a glimpse of the band's live presence (and I was happy to see one of my favorite tracks "Cold Cold Wind" on video), which is a lot more vibrant and energetic than one may expect for the genre. The MP3s are two live and one studio track - three more opportunities to showcase Jabe's songwriting talent (and sense of humor) and music for newly ardent fans like me. Too many good songs to pinpoint all together here - just for a smattering of hard folk, rock, bluegrass, blues, and roots, I urge you to check Jabe out.

Debbie Catalano


January 10, 2003- Boston, MA

By Richie Hoss

It’s 10:30 on a bitter cold Friday night in Davis Square and there’s a line extending down Elm Street outside The Burren. The reward for bearing the 19° January cold is to pay three dollars for three hours of one of the best alt-country/rock performers you’re ever going to see—Jabe. It is hot and packed in the back room where Jabe and his band--consisting of bass, drums, and mandolin, with Jabe on guitar—are already at full throttle slinging Jabe’s Tom Petty/Bob Dylan meets The Charlie Daniels Band brand of music. This is not one of your typical scenester shows wre the audience is too cool to get up close during the first set and dance. No, the room is really swinging, everywhere. As drinks are spilled and coats are shed, Jabe brings it on, playing their homemade instruments, which really seems to suit this band’s homemade feel. The songs seem unstructured or unpracticed: Jabe continually nods to his band when a song ends or a solo begins, but that somehow adds to the theatrics. There are lots of bands that play with feeling but few that make you feel. Jabe does both. Jabe begins the last set with a couple of rockers to let everyone know that this show isn’t going to slow down yet. One of the songs starts out like Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady” and Jabe continually switches musical hats in the last hour; going through rock, rockabilly, and alt-country. All the girls up front are hanging on his every word through his ballad “Maybe Next Time,” and then, just like that, the show ends, making a three-hour set seem like a half hour.


THE BOSTON GLOBE (Steve Morse) November 1, 2002

Jabe at the Burren: Locally based Jabe just released a new album, ''Drama City,'' and was celebrating it with this gig. Much-improved singer Jabe Beyer has been a leader of the local roots-music renaissance and proved it with an exceptional, high-energy performance. There are echoes of Tom Petty and the Eagles in his sound, as well as influences from the Old 97s and Sixteen Horsepower (who are also thanked on the album). It made for great Americana party music, tailor-made for sweeping your cares away.


THE NOISE (Boston)

Live Review: JABE at The Burren 9/27/02

Trying to meet your friends at The Burren is a very daunting task when Jabe is performing. The place is so packed when I arrive, I can't spot my cohorts, let alone find a place to stand anywhere, so I edge my way towards the bar. This here music is some of the best drinking music you'll find anywhere; rooted in folk, bluegrass and country but still about as rock 'n' roll as it comes. Tonight Sean Staples amazes me yet again with his virtuosity on the mandolin. Jabe, the frontman for whom the band is named, has the crowd in the palm of his hand as usual, with people singing and dancing several rows deep. One wouldn't normally expect Asians to play redneck music, but Jabe had this new guy on fiddle that was top notch. To steal a line from Charlie Daniels, the devil was in the house of the rising sun tonight. Yes siree, tonight Jabe and his boys put on one hell of a show. Yee Haw! (Kier Byrnes)


"Driving a rock-country train"   

Boston Globe 2-25-01 David Wildman

The music of Jabe comes on like a train, not a shiny, modern, high-speed model, but more like the locomotive with the long, lonely whistle that Johnny Cash might have heard around the bend outside of Folsom Prison.

"I like the energy of the train beat," said Jabe Beyer, the blue-haired singer/songwriter who leads the high-velocity rock/bluegrass group that bears his first name. "It's a roots/punk country sound, the kind of thing that really gets people going when we play live."

Beyer is a transplant from upstate New York, where, he says, musicians either were playing in the garage or on MTV. A rock singer/songwriter in a place with no music scene to speak of, he came to Boston to hone his live performing skills. He played around the solo folk scene for a while, but he soon found that he wanted something grittier. "Folkies are great, although I don't want to be one of them," Beyer said. "I like to play in bars, where people are drinking, not in restaurant clubs, where people are eating hummus."

Beyer seems to have found the proper atmosphere for his sometimes bluegrass, sometimes rock music in smaller Irish bars like Toad in Porter Square, Cambridge, and the Tir Na Nog in Union Square, Somerville, where a new appreciation for more rustic sounds seems to be taking hold.

Beyer himself is not a lifelong country fan, and he did not start out to play the kind of music he is now doing. "If I had heard myself doing this kind of music five years ago I would have punched myself out," he said. "Actually what I listen to is a lot of Tom Waits and Dylan. Locally I like Kris Delmhorst, but also hard-edged stuff like The Mother Brothers and Quintaine Americana. I like good music; I'm not so much concerned with style."

His crowd-pleasing raveup songs and raucous-but-relaxed onstage demeanor (accented by his punkish blue-dyed hair, the result of a late-night dare) grew out of playing shows where he and his band would have to keep an audience's attention for an entire night of music. "When I first started out I'd have these horrible gigs where I would just stand there and not say a word," he said. "The hardest part is the in-between songs stuff. The people who can do it the best are the ones who becomes successful. By playing gigs where I'd have to be on stage all night long, I began to find it must easier to talk to people."

The band has transferred all that live energy to a new CD titled Outback Country Vampire, which features Beyer's crack backup band of Sean Staples on mandolin, Jay Aucella on bass and Dave Westner on drums, as well as known session players such as Casey Driesson (who has played with Steve Earle), Bow Thayer on banjo (of Elbow and Seven League boots), and rocking fiddle from K. Ishibashi.


Weekly Dig - March 2003

Jabe: On the Road to Bluer Skies

Jabe Beyer combines the brilliant lyrical incisiveness of Tom Waits and Bob Dylan with the tuneful country-politan twang of Wilco and Ryan Adams, and delivers it with the blistering fuck-all intensity of Appetite for Destruction. His songs are the sound of a flickering neon light in a bar at the end of a dark, dusty highway; he knows the pain of letting the one he should’ve clung to get away, and he’ll sing the soundtrack to every rough moment in your life. He won “Outstanding Debut Album” and was nominated as “Best New Singer / Songwriter” at the 2000 Boston Music Awards for his self-released debut Twenty Point Turn, and won the 2000 Abe Olman Songwriting Award from the Songwriting Hall of Fame. Jabe’s been touring the country relentlessly for the past few years; I caught up with him a few hours after he stepped off a plane after playing a showcase for the South by Southwest music conference in Austin, TX, to discuss the release of his third full-length album, Drama City.

Do you think the strength of your material is enough to satisfy an audience, or do you think of ways to improve your stage presence and put on a more entertaining show?
The more I think about that stuff, the less I care, really. I hope the music is enough, ‘cause that’s all I can offer. I really wish I could sit around and think of how to put on a better show or how to dress cooler or whatever, but I just can't. My dork filter turns on and I just feel weird taking the music and myself so seriously that I have to wonder about stage presence or entertaining. To me, good songs and good music are enough. If I go see someone play live, I'm totally satisfied with just some good honest music. Cool clothes or cool hair just distract me. Nowadays it seems good tunes aren't enough for the “music [buying] public.” They want bells and whistles; hocus pocus, and what they see on the TV. I kind of feel like you can't live up to that – and why try anyways? I get off on real things without glitz. That's just me. I'm a pretty boring dude.

What keeps you motivated to keep struggling and touring and making music even when life gets really difficult? †Would you say you're happy and content, or are you frustrated, and if so, why?
There's no question that trying to make a living playing original music is tough. When the music you love to play isn't the music that sells eight billion†records, it’s tougher. And everyone thinks you’re in it to be a rock star, like you’re either a rock god or nothing, and I think that's a shame. Everyone I know plays music for next to no money and have been for a long time, and they still play out every chance they get. It's not about the big time all the time. Would I like to make a bunch of cash playing my songs? Who wouldn't? Am I willing to fly all the way to Texas to play for 35 minutes for a record label? Yeah, sure – am I willing to do anything to make money and compromise my art, which is the only thing I really have? No way. I mean, I get frustrated just like every other guitar player in town, but in the end, it's better than any job I've ever had and I just plain love to play music. I don't think I could take anything else seriously right now. Maybe tomorrow I'll wake up and say, “Screw it” and want to be a painter or janitor or a clam flappin’ biscuit maker, but right now this is what I do. Anyways, I think there's bigger things to worry about lately, like, "Can I please have an order of freedom fries?" What a fuck is that? Freedom toast?! Come on! I was on a plane yesterday and read that they're taking cigarette images out of old albums. They digitally took Paul McCartney's cigarette out of his hand on the cover of Abbey Road! Who let that happen? I'd like to erase that person! They're erasing truth when it doesn't fit the plan anymore. That's scary stuff, man. We're all in the same boat, you know? We're all just trying to get through another day without freaking out. †Be good to people, and have fun. Then there's all the shit in life that comes along with that: love, relationships, wearing different hats, work, friends, family, responsibility, all that stuff. †It's the human condition. We're complicated thing, us weird humans. Trying to make sense out of the human condition is the goal, for me anyways. And for me, if I write it down and sing it into a mic, I feel like I'm getting closer.

Who's a better songwriter, Tom Waits or Bob Dylan? †Who would you pick if you could only choose one to ever listen to again and why? †Who else do you think is just as good or better than them?
Hey, that's not fair! That’s like asking, ‘Stones or Beatles?’ ‘John or Paul?’ It's not a race. Sometimes it feels like it, but I don't really think of music or songwriters in parts or pieces. I mean, yeah, Bob and Tom are two totally different guys doing two different things, but to me, their tunes kinda aren't. I don't have a personal connection with either of 'em as people – even though I did meet Tom Waits once. It's more how their songs affect me than it is about who they are or how they're different. Not just them, but anyone, you know? †If I was forced to pick who I would listen to, first I'd shoot the person who asked the question, then I'd hide bunch of records in my pants. Then I'd go eat some sushi, light cars on fire and quack like a chicken.

You've written a lot of songs about having hard luck with love; tell me about the woman who really broke your heart, and do you think you'll always write songs about her? †Are you still hurt and angry, or would you take her back if you could?
Well, I never used to write songs about personal relationships and stuff†just because I thought it was cheap when I heard other people do it so much. On the first two records I don’t think I said ‘love’ once. The word “love” is in 99% of the songs I grew up with and I just think it got cheapened getting used like that. †Like, “Hey, it rhymes with 'dove,' cool!’” or something. And by some bad cosmic joke in space I was born with the curse of actually caring about song lyrics. †They matter to me. It's a cryin' shame. I mean, when I'm writing I don't sit around and think about any of this stuff or what words to use or while I'm writing, ‘cause it's usually such a quick process for me. Most songs are written in like 15 minutes. I just try to capture a moment and zoom in and out on it 'till I can see if from all angles, you know, and have some perspective on it. Once I feel like I'm onto something, I'm good to go. It's just a song anyways – there's gonna be more, so if I don't nail it on one song, maybe I'll get it on the next one. [Laughs] What was the question again?

Do you consider music to be primarily art or †entertainment? †
To who, me or other people? Music affects me emotionally. To me, that's art. †A porn film, that's entertainment. That might be a bad example. I just pick porn ‘cause I think most people would agree that porn isn't trying to make any huge statements. If we're talking about the music industry, I think its all entertainment to the labels putting that stuff out. It’s just tits and ass, ticket sales and merchandise. Which is fine, ‘cause that's business and business is money. But just be honest about it, please. Don't try and pass it off as amazing art. It could be CDs or used cars – they don't care. †Not to be mean or whatever, but everyone knows the music biz is a mess.† When I see MTV and a singer on top of a digitally made mountain singing in the wind and I know he's really in front of a blue screen in some movie studio in front of a fan, I'm like, "Is this where I'm trying to be? What the hell is that? Do I want to be on a stage, 50 feet from the front row, under a million dumb lights with a shiny guitar?" Uh...not really.

Mike Baldino


Seacoast Newspapers

November 14, 2002: Be it audio or video, JABE is still best taken live

By Jamie Perkins,

Well, JABE has pretty much done it again. Their new CD, "Drama City," is full of the same type of inspired alt-country and mellower, contemplative ballads that fans of the seacoast band have come to expect. Fronted by award-winning songwriter Jabe Beyer (with Jay Aucella on bass, Dave Westner on drums, and multi-instrumentalist Sean Staples), JABE is fast becoming the band to watch in these parts.

"Drama City," the band's third disc, is a two-disc extravaganza; one disc of songs and one of extras, including three videos, three MP3's, and a direct link to their Web site, The sometimes grainy videos sound excellent and successfully portray the energy JABE carries out in their live shows. The extra songs in MP3 format are basically just humorous little ditties that display JABE's obvious knack for not taking themselves too seriously.

The audio disc, however, displays JABE's obvious knack for hook-laden, country-tinged rock. Beyer is without question one of the best songwriters north of Boston, but the success of JABE depends as much on the rest of the band as it does on his exceptional songwriting, a notion Beyer himself seems to lampoon in the MP3 end-of-the-night track, "It's Time To Go". After all, they provide an energy and atmosphere that helps Beyer's songs remain as fluid and enjoyable as they are. While Aucella and Westner provide the low-end foundation, Staples supplies background vocals, as well as pulling out banjo, mandolin, fiddle, or a second guitar to augment the sound as needed for each song. The result is that each song has its own distinctive sound, despite the fact that Beyer's songwriting hasn't necessarily changed or branched into new territory since their last CD, the fantastic "Outback Country Vampires." And, in fairness to Beyer, it didn't really need to; his songs work just as well on "Drama City" as they did n "Outback" (though on a personal level, I do miss the fiddle melodies that were more prevalent on "Outback").

The boys seem cranked up this time around, though, as a number of these songs are uptempo, careening, and almost on the verge of being chaotic, and only get more so in the live videos on the second disc. This relative anarchy could possibly be attributed to Beyer and Staples' moonlighting in the Newgrass outfit The Benders, a project that is just as superb artistically and musically (and one could assume, as a result, just as satisfying for the artists), but is far more subdued than JABE. There is certainly no shortage of slower, introspective numbers on "Drama City," however. The truth is that the songs, fast and rollicking or slow and thoughtful, are all examples of well-wrought songcraft.

Beyer's lyrics are often relationship oriented, and always strong in melody and heart. Occasionally a romantically sympathetic speaker clashes with an oversexed one, but this provides more of an emotional landscape to wander over. No one listens to an artist who isn't somewhat paradoxical anyway. Quite simply, JABE are coming up with some of the best music around, and seems like they're having an awful lot of fun doing it. One hopes they are naïve enough to keep going; my favorite track on the CD was "Into A Wall", a song which manages to reveal the frustration of every working musician out there in about two hyper minutes, and ending that frustration by various forms of cartoonish suicide. "I made twenty-four dollars tonight/ At the local watering hole/ I'm gonna leave this bar, get right in my car/ And drive right into a wall." Sadly, a sentiment that every band and singer has felt numerous times. Hopefully JABE can forego the way of Princess Grace and stay alive long enough to receive the appreciation they are so righteously playing for.


November 2001- by Andy Turner

Jabe Beyer's songs on his band's second effort are silly, dark, sad, funny, spooky, hell-raising, fascinating and always interesting. Beyer and his Boston buddies play a sort of raucous bluegrass cowpunk that is powered by a train beat along the lines of the Old 97's. In fact, the liner notes deem Stupid Boy, a "total Old 97's rip-off" which it is sort of, but there is a lot worse things a band could do. "Checkout Girl" is a sweet ode to salvation in a supermarket that has lines like "There's a frenzy in the marketplace/Someone ran off with the scale" and concludes with a triumphant "But I'll meet her at the bar tonight, I will/I'll just sit on my stool and twirl/Just me and the Checkout Girl." "Danglin' From a Broken Star" is a terrific ballad that would be the perfect "Coulpes Only"song at your favorite alt-country skating rink. Other highlights include the bluesy hillbilly boogie of "Forever is a Long Time" and the spastic bluegrass of "Let in the Blue" and "Rocky Times Come N' Go." Terrific songwriting and playing, full of fun and feeling.

-Andy Turner


Ear Pollution : December 2001

As Jabe took the stage in the backroom of The Burren, I immediately realized that I had seen them before and my satisfaction on making it out to see some live music on a Friday night intensified. I hazily recalled a cold Winter's night at Tir Na Nog, another Somerville breeding ground for rustic tunes and relentless hangovers, when I saw this same stocky frayed-haired singer/guitarist and his counterpart on mandolin--who's as close to a near spitting image of most artists' conception of Christ as I've ever seen or imagined--lead their band through a foot-stomping set laced with the essence of American music's most traditional forms. Tonight was no different, as Jabe leveled a crowd packed like sardines in the neighborhood Irish music hall with a country rock/bluegrass hybrid, played with the velocity and high fever pitch of good punk. Manic, yet faultless drumming provided the combustion and infectious mandolin playing and fervent vocals supplied the color. Songwriter and frontman Jabe Beyer directed the barnstorming quartet through a collection of roots-driven, runaway train-like workouts, building chords into songs on his electric guitar and bursting forth with vocalized emotion, although Sean Staples' mandolin playing and on-stage theatrics stole the spotlight from the barroom bard more than once.

Jabe Beyer, relocated to Boston from upstate New York in the mid-'90s, began playing solo acoustic shows around town at cafes and small bars, developing a style all his own along the way. Eventually he formed his own band, named it after himself and has been touring like a madman ever since. Earlier in the year, Jabe released their second album, Outback Country Vampire, a fertile collection of songs worthy of the widespread local praise it received, but not totally representative of the live sound heard at The Burren. The album features ten different musicians alongside Beyer and showcases a fast and furious fiddle and a resonant banjo on many of the tracks. Staples' mandolin is suspiciously absent from all tracks but one. After seeing what this man can do with that little cousin of the guitar, I'd have to say that it's not only suspicious but quite unfortunate as well. If Jabe can pack this much energy into a live performance with four instruments, I must wonder excitedly at the possibility of seeing them with Staples plus a fiddle player and banjo picker in tow--Pure rockin' bluegrass action! -
Dan Cullity


National Academy of Popular Music: 2000

Boston songwriter Jabe Beyer, frontman for the Locomotive Folk-Rock band, JABE, has won the 2000 Abe Olman Scholarship Award for Excellence in Songwriting.  Provided by the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the National Academy of Popular Music (NAPM), Jabe Beyer has been chosen by performing rights organization SESAC, out of New York City, to win this prestigious award.  The award, named after late songwriter/lyricist Abe Olman, is given each year to the most promising new songwriters in the music community.

Jabe will receive this award on Feb 1st, 2000, at the Friar¹s Club in New York City.

Aug 11, 2011: Jabe Live review from Trigger Hippy tour at

“Upon entering the locale, opener Jabe Beyer was entertaining the crowd with his compelling voice and delicate guitar licks. An artist out of Nashville usually surrounded by his band, Jabe seemed comfortable solo as he played a short set of refreshing originals. His genuine lyrics and appealing guitar riffs were effective in warming up the room. His talent was undeniable and it was obvious why he was selected to open all six shows.” - Kevin Long

Short Interview in American Songwriter: