By Dan Williams
It’s been a little over a year since I last saw The Jayplayers in concert. Formed as an acoustic duo in 2013 out of Lebanon PA, Keeley McCue and Chris Weidensaul have earned acclaim with their Americana/Roots songwriting and harmonies.
It was a pleasure to learn that they have expanded to a four piece band with drums, bass and Weidensaul playing a variety of electric guitars. Still predominantly a duo vocal act, the full band experience allows them to ramp up the energy with a little Southern Rock infusion. And it suits them very well.
I caught up with them on Friday night at Lancaster’s Tellus 360. Despite their 11:15 PM start, the house was full and the audience was into their performance.
Joining them on drums is New Jersey native Tyler Kollinok and on electric bass, Michael Broda also of Lebanon. Kollinok’s training is precision Metal drumming, so switching to the laid-back genre of Americana is a 180 degree turn. But it works. He brings a heavier style that adds punch to the Jayplayer’s originals and covers.
The band began their set with a terrific version of “Save Me” before launching into two more originals. Their nineteen song set included a nice mix of originals with five outstanding covers thrown in to get the house on their feet. After the audience was warmed up, Weidensaul asked if anyone was in the mood to dance. The band launched into a funky version of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” and a sing-along kicked in.
Happily covering the bottom for the evening, Michael Broda, on a Hofner bass, smiled his way through the set. As a Beatles fan myself, it was fun watching men in the audience recognize the signature McCartney bass and approach Broda about his instrument. He told me off-stage that he was fortunate to meet McCartney in person. His melodic style of playing shows the influence.
Aside from the newfound energy in the full band, The Jayplayers are still a vocal group driven by strong songwriting and harmonies. They have a very comfortable chemistry on stage and a growing loyal fan base.
The Jayplayers are currently preparing a follow up EP to their 2016 release of Glitter & Wine. They are a true working band with a constant presence in the greater Philadelphia / Wilmington music scene.
See a live performance here: