JACKDAW – No Cactus (DUGUY/CUTTHROAT 3747-02)

No CactusJackdaw release No Cactus on October 3rd. In very broad terms, you’d classify the album as Americana. From this point onwards I want to write a different kind of review……

Part of the publicity material said, “Jackdaw is not an individual or a band. It’s home for songs written by Rob Anderson and Wayne Drury and has no ambition beyond getting the songs out into the ozone. Those involved in the project are likely to make the odd live London appearance in various combinations as Jackdaw, but are not looking for regular gigs or a profile per se.” I re-read this several times – let’s face it, it’s not your standard PR blurb. And then I did some research…..

This is what Wayne Drury’s sister wrote “In the early 1970s, three friends, Wayne Drury, Rob Anderson and Randall Crawford came together in Eugene, Oregon as the band Jackdaw. Their repertoire included songs written by Wayne. He had no professional music training, but he created wonderful melodies held together with stories of people and places: ‘The Last Cowboy in Paris’, ‘Gas Station Girl’……In 1974, at 27, Wayne was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis..….Some 35 years later in London, Rob unearthed old Jackdaw tapes, was struck by how great the songs still were and felt something should be done to save them. With the help of several special musicians he created The Wayne Drury Project – a complicated labor of love – to perform and save Wayne’s music…..Wayne now lives in a nursing center, and although he lost many precious things along the way, he always keeps his tattered blue song folder within arm’s reach, labelled “Touch this an’ you die.” (From a guy who probably never harmed an insect).” I kept researching.

In 2011 Jackdaw played four gigs and have played a handful since then because “the songs refused to fade away”. No Cactus has eleven songs, two by Drury and the remainder by Anderson. These include Drury’s ‘The Very Last Cowboy In Paris’ (the first track on the video below) and Anderson’s ‘The Very Last Cowboy’s Response’. You get the picture – Drury only has two songs, but he pervades the album both in lyric and in musical style.

But there’s no point in me writing more about the music when you can listen to it – it’s here on download; at the time of writing it’s free: https://www.waynedruryproject.com/jackdaw-upload

As well as playing some of Drury’s songs, the video link below gives you an insight into the development of the Project. There is a launch gig on October 10th at The Slaughtered Lamb in London but no other live events appear to be planned.

The only thing I can think of which is comparable is Rodriguez’ music (which I first heard in Dublin café about a dozen years ago) but the details of which I only learned from the 2012 documentary ‘Searching for Sugar Man’. For any film-makers reading this, Drury/Anderson’s songs are both accessible enough and weighty enough that I’ve kept playing No Cactus after I’ve finished writing the review. The Slaughtered Lamb might be your Dublin café?

Mike Wistow

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The background video. You’ve got the album for free – what more do you want?