On Sunday, April 6, Flying Cat Music will present acclaimed folk musician Joe Jencks in concert at the Empire State Railway Museum located at 70 Lower High Street in Phoenicia. The show begins promptly at 7:30 p.m. with the door opening at 7:00. Admission is $15 at the door or $13 with RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 845-688-9453.
Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines the word clarion when used as an adjective as “brilliantly clear” and as “loud and clear” when used in the phrase “a clarion call to action.” Defined that way, clarion could easily be a synonym for Joe Jencks and reflective of both his voice and spirit. Singing in a rich warm tenor range Joe alternately projects his voice to glide gently through your senses, soar triumphant o’er any space you’re in, or grab you by the throat until you start to shake. Joe Jencks has that type of power. Fortunately, he uses it only for good.
In social change circles, no endorsement carried more weight than that of Pete Seeger. It was Seeger who once said, “The key to the future is people joining in. The music of Joe Jencks captures this essential spirit. Joe is a fantastic singer who carries on the traditions.” Joe Jencks is not the only contemporary songwriter who tackles issues of social justice, but few do so with such artistry. CD Baby says of him: “Jencks has the passion of a Gospel singer, the knowledge of a classical vocalist, and the soul of an Irish Tenor.” Ron Olesko of WFDU FM describes Joe this way, “Joe Jencks is the type of musician that will cause you to drop that morning newspaper or pull your car to the side of the road when you hear his songs. He is the type of artist that will turn heads in his direction when he walks onto a stage.”
Jencks has played stages great and small; from Carnegie Hall to sidewalk rallies. Most of the time now, when Joe Jencks walks onto a stage he does so as a member of the power folk trio “Brother Sun,” a group he co-founded in 2010. “Brother Sun” has rapidly become a crowd favorite at festivals nationwide, with both of the CDs released by them quickly reaching the top of the national Folk DJ chart. Prior to forming “Brother Sun” though, Joe Jencks was a prominent folk singer and songwriter on his own, with seven CD’s out as a solo artist including 2009’s Links in a Chain which itself rose to the top of the Folk DJ chart as did his 2007 release, The Candle And The Flame, in that year.
In “Brother Sun” Joe Jencks is united with two other superb song writers, which limits the amount of his own material Jencks can present in concert with them. It’s a rare treat to see Joe perform a solo show now since he seldom finds time to do so, but when he does it lets him draw fully from his amazing catalog of music. Joe Jencks is a highly acclaimed songwriter and the winner of numerous contests and awards. His songs span storied traditions rooted in the American (both North and South) experience and in Ireland as well–Joe has duel American and Irish citizenship. His music links a contemporary look at our world to the timeless clarion call for justice.
Speaking recently about his influences in an interview published at meandthee.org/blog Joe Jencks noted, “When you grow up in a rust-belt town, issues of labor and workplace dignity are obvious places to dig in. But it was really music of social justice that led me to activism in a more direct sense. From Irish Revolutionary songs, to the US Civil Rights movement, from the Weavers to Holly Near, it was the musicians who were committed to matters of justice, to civil and human rights, who most affected me.”
What most affects Joe’s audiences, beyond his exquisite tenor voice and music conservatory training, is the compassion he conveys for ordinary people caught living difficult lives. In sharing their stories Jencks uplifts the listener. The resolve portrayed is an inherently healing force.