Hunter & The Dirty Jacks: rock ‘n’ roll, woodcraft, too

Hunter & The Dirty Jacks
Hunter & The Dirty Jacks will fit nicely into the Crystal Bay Casino’s Red Room.

You can put Hunter & The Dirty Jacks into just about any pigeonhole, but in the oft chance the band doesn’t fit, its crafty frontman has the tools to make it work anyway.

“We’re kind of a full service rock ‘n’ roll band,” guitarist Jon Siembieda said.We have a weird tour bus. We drive all over the place. We play rock ‘n’ roll. We play some blues, some Americana, some country, some folk and you roll it all up and it’s a big, hippie rock ‘n’ roll sandwich.”

Hunter and the Dirty Jacks’ tasty chops can be heard at the Crystal Bay Casino on Friday, Jan. 19, during a free, three-hour set in the Red Room. It will be the Southern California band’s second appearance at the venue.

“It’s always varied, always interesting and maybe even inspiring an immaculate conception or three,” singer Hunter Ackerman said.

The band has five hours of original music it can play live, but it might do an occasional cover by perhaps the Grateful Dead or the aforementioned CRB. And while the set will be unique, so will the stage set and the band’s frontman, Hunter Ackerman, who wears musical accessories as a carpenter does his tools.

“Just subtle glance of our set up I kind of ran with is if a Jedi has to make his own lightsaber,” Ackerman said. “A blues harp player needs to make his own harp mic. So my harp microphone is housed in a water buffalo horn. I made the whole thing from scratch, wired it all up the volume knob. Several people ask about because it’s the head of a broken drumstick that sticks out to the side.

“When you all come out to the Crystal Bay Casino, you’ll see a bunch of handcrafted wooden leather work that decorate the stage, as well as candelabras. Just come check it out. It’ll be  an absolute singular usual performance. And that’s before the music begins.”

Hunter & The Dirty Jacks also include bassist Aaron Barnes, drummer Brian Lara and guitarist Carmelo Bonaventura.

“(Bonaventura) does most of the solos but sometimes I get my pound of flesh when the opportunity arises,” Siembieda said.” I get my rhythm mostly, chunking out the riffs but at the same time we like to weave. A lot of the songs have two distinct guitar parts.”

Ackerman interjected, “I’d like to think of it as Keith Richards and Mick Taylor. That’s always the relationship that I am reminiscent of. They do a really damn good job of trading back and forth. Some of the riffs are event written as two-part riffs, specifically to have a weave inherent in the notes.”

Don’t take the Rolling Stones’ references as rock and roll ostentatiousness. These guys are as hard-working and humble as any great blues band, playing more than 100 show on the road each year and leading altruistic activities when at home.

Hunter & The Dirty Jacks have had two long-term residencies to raise funds to feed homeless people in Southern California. One of them was in Santa Monica and was supported by blues players in the area.

“They came down and they jammed and a lot of them would go in and serve the homeless too,” Siembieda said. “Coco Montoya was the first one. He’s a super generous guy. Eric Sardinas would be cooking stuff from scratch all day to take down to the homeless shelter and then he would just rip it up with us onstage. Jimmy Vivino, Jonny Rivers, the whole Delgado Brothers Band, Kirk Fletcher, Dennis Jones, Rory Gaines. It’s a huge list.”

Also involved was Walter Trout, the guitar and songwriting virtuoso who struggled with addiction and had been homeless a couple of decades ago.

“He told me he thought it would help his family learn this lesson,” Siembieda said.

A month later, Tout was hospitalized and in dire need of a liver transplant.

“When Walter Trout was in the hospital, his wife and sons came down to the homeless shelter and cooked dinners with us — that was pretty incredible,” Siembieda said.

While the musicians gathered to volunteer cooking and performing, there was an ever-present pall: Everyone was worried that Trout wouldn’t survive.

But miraculously, and after a near-death experience, Trout received the transplant and has recovered. Hunter & The Dirty Jacks played at Trout’s comeback performance.

An interview and story about Hunter & The Dirty Jacks had suddenly shifted its focus to Walter Trout.

“That’s OK,” Siembieda said. “It’s all part of the same song.”

ABOUT Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons
Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.

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