Jakob’s Ferry Stragglers: “Time for a change.”
A name change heralds a new era for an “Appalachian Power Trio” out of Washington.
Fans of blues and old time bluegrass may be familiar with The Weedrags, a trio formed in the fall of 2010. The band rose to local and regional fame thanks to extensive touring.
After four years working under the Weedrags moniker and a few lineup changes, the band is starting fresh, announcing a new name and new identity: The Jakob’s Ferry Stragglers.
“We wanted to avoid confusion with bands that have similar names and being the only original member of The Weedrags I felt like it was time to make a change,” vocalist and guitarist Gary Antol said.
Much like their sound, which Antol attributes to Americana bluegrass and the nearby West Virginia foothills, inspiration for the name came locally.
“Jacobs Ferry is this town in Greene County that my dad always used to tell me would make a good band name,” Antol said. “Plus, we’re always a little bit behind and always straggling.”
During frequent trips in and out of Carmichaels, Antol would often pass signs for Jacobs Ferry, wondering about a town he had never visited.
When he finally did make the trip, the name choice ended up being more than suitable.
“It’s a really beautiful spot alongside the river, with a couple of trailers and a boat dock,” Antol said. “Basically, these signs are leading to nowhere and I came out in the middle of nowhere. I stood outside my car for a few seconds and laughed before deciding this is kind of a cool name.”
Jakob’s Ferry Stragglers will see the inclusion of two new members, Ed Croft on bass from Bowling Green, Ohio and Mitch Hall on banjo from Accident, Md. The two will join current Weedrags’ members Antol and fiddler and vocalist Libby Eddy.
Along with the new members comes a new sound, which Antol says is Appalachian music, mixing bluegrass and old time country.
“The sound is slightly different from The Weedrags,” Antol said. “We’re keeping our original sound but mixing it up by adding jam band sounds like the Grateful Dead and the Yonder Mountain String Band. This band has a wide range of influences, new and old, from Americana country music, blues music, West Virginia folk and jazz.”
The group is currently in the middle of recording their full length debut. They’re working to come to an agreement on signing with an independent label that has worked with Antol over the past couple of years. A release is expected this fall.
In the meantime, the group will continue touring under The Weedrags name until Oct. 31, performing at festivals and shows throughout the summer, including stops in Pennsylvania and Ohio.
On July 12, the band will appear at the Whiskey Rebellion Festival at 7 p.m. Other performers slated to appear are the Shelf Life String Band and The Felice Brothers.
Antol promises future shows will be filled with the unexpected and crazy, including great showmanship and music.
Coming this far as a group means a lot to the singer. Antol is excited about the opportunities and new prospects the future holds.
“I like working for myself and I just want to keep going,” he said.
Now the sky seems to be the limit for these Stragglers with Antol and his bandmates already looking to the future, hoping to make a splash when they begin touring under their new name in November.
“I really hope our band just continues to grow and gets to play even more festivals,” Antol said. “We want to do bigger shows and do more touring. We’ve been to quite a few places so far and we hope to do shows in quite a few more.”
The Weedrags performing at Club Cafe in late May of this year
Story by Lauren Rearick for Pennsylvania Bridges