I first met Jesse Cobb a number of years ago, when he was playing mandolin with The Infamous Stringdusters. I remember being struck by Jesse’s aggressive playing; his mandolin work was distinctive, his solo runs both melodic and furious. I’ll never forget the first time I heard “No More To Leave You Behind,” from the ‘Dusters’ first record. The timing, tone, and precision mystified me.Jesse’s story is an intriguing one. A native of Wisconsin, he is one of four musical brothers. Brothers Matt and Shad are both mean fiddlers, with Shad being one of the most sought after players in Nashville, and brother Jed is one hell of a clawhammer banjo player. The three of them spent much time on the road during their formative years, picking bluegrass in The Cobb Brothers Family Band. Later, Jesse spent time logging timber, running sled dogs, doing construction, and working on the railroad.A move to Nashville in 2000 brought Jesse back to music. Jesse was a founding member of The Infamous Stringdusters in 2006, spending five years recording and touring with the genre-bending ‘grassers before leaving the band in 2011. These days, Jesse calls the Ontario area home, where he lives with wife Nicole and their daughters Kayla and Mackenzie. I caught up with Jesse to chat about where his musical career has taken him recently. BRO – How was recording this record – a solo project – different from your previous recording experiences? JC – I went into my buddy Mark Lalama’s Sumbler House Studios with no intention of making an album. This started as an idea for teaching mandolin camps and workshops, just to show my style of improvisation that could be dissected with a class. It wasn’t until months later, when working on another project at Mark’s, that we came up with the idea to let this be a stand along project. In most recording situations, especially band sessions, there are very thought out arrangements and lots of opinions to consider. In this case, I wanted a raw, live, improvisational feel, so there was very little planning. I just went straight to playing.BRO – We are featuring “Solitude,” the title track of your record, on Trail Mix this month. The song is an instrumental, but there still has to be a story behind it.JC – I’ve been traveling pretty much my whole life, starting with moving back and forth between the West Coast and Midwest three or four times when I was a small child. I played with my family band when I was in my teens, worked on the railroad in my early twenties, and was a musician again after that. During all that time crisscrossing the country, I have always loved sitting in the back of a van or truck, late at night, playing my mandolin when most folks are asleep. This tune was written in one of those situations, somewhere in Wyoming, I believe. Everyone, no matter how busy, needs some solitude.Finish this thought . . . “Playing the mandolin is better than logging work because…”JC – …the mortal danger in playing mandolin is considerably lower, unless, of course, you get involved in the “what is bluegrass?” discussion.BRO – You and your brother, Shad, have spent some time on the road doing some duo shows lately. Are you guys more like the brothers Everly or Robinson? JC – I’d say the influence of both can likely be heard, although I am pretty sure Shad doesn’t know who The Black Crowes are! That’s one of the best things about playing with Shad. He has a very deep respect for the older sounds, and I’d say we are more influenced by the Louvin Brothers that either of those two. We are open to more modern influences from the jam and modern rock worlds I’ve been exposed to over the years, though our vocal styles are very much in the vein of the Everlys.BRO – You recently spent some time on the road with a bad ass band. Tell me about that project.JC – Bad ass indeed! I was on the road with Noam Pikelny, Bryan Sutton, Barry Bales, and Luke Bulla. I was fortunate to do 15 shows with these guys over about three weeks. We had an absolute blast. These guys are both amazing musicians and great friends on the road. Noam always finds the best food, Barry is the best late night bluegrass DJ I’ve ever heard, Bryan is a great influence, both musically and personally, and Luke is one of the best singers I know and his advice and encouragement were priceless. Things came together pretty quickly as far as getting our set list locked in. Everyone was given the opportunity to show off their various chops and it was so fun to play music we rarely get to play with our other projects. I also need to get a shout out to Dan Foldes, our road manager, sound guy, roommate, and all around good dude. He made us sound good every night. I hope we get to do some more of this next year.——————————————————-You can find out more about Jesse Cobb and his brand new record, Solitude, by surfing over to www.mandocobb.com. Also, be sure to check out the title track from the record on this month’s Trail Mix.
Alapati Leiua’s 23rd-minute try was added to by a cracking Christian Wade score as wind-backed Wasps built a 20-11 half-time lead, with Andy Goode kicking 10 points with the boot. Two penalties from Ian Madigan, coupled with a try from European debutant Darragh Fanning, kept Leinster in touch and they went up through the gears with third-quarter scores from Fanning and Dominic Ryan. However, Wasps’ scrambled defence earned them a deserved losing bonus point as they kept the Irish province at bay in the closing stages. In their first European outing since Brian O’Driscoll’s retirement, injury-hit Leinster were without 10 players who lined out in last April’s quarter-final against Toulon. The hosts settled quickly, though, winning a scrum penalty and carrying forcefully in the 22 with Rhys Ruddock leading the charge. A close-in penalty was tapped over by Madigan. But Wasps, who were without captain James Haskell due to illness, were not long in replying. Ashley Johnson used an overthrown Leinster lineout to cause concern in the home defence and Goode’s 12th-minute penalty levelled matters. Rampaging runs from Ruddock and Nathan Hughes lifted the tempo at the end of a tight first quarter, although a ruck offence by the former allowed Goode to make it 6-3. It got even better for the visitors when Noel Reid’s attempted pass to Fanning was juggled and gathered by Leiua – just outside the Wasps 22 – and the Samoan centre had the gas to run over unopposed. Leinster replied just four minutes later as captain Jamie Heaslip bulldozed past Joe Launchbury in midfield and Jimmy Gopperth’s inviting grubber kick was grounded by Fanning in the left corner. Madigan’s missed conversion left a five-point gap and despite failing to capitalise on breaks by replacement Rob Miller and Elliot Daly, Wasps added to their lead before the break. Leinster came through a tough first examination in the Champions Cup as they edged out Wasps 25-20 at the RDS Arena. Press Association It was a Christian Wade ‘special’ as the fleet-footed winger whizzed by Madigan on the outside, evaded Fanning’s attempted tap tackle and dived over in the right corner past the despairing Zane Kirchner. However, Goode’s terrific touchline conversion was cancelled out by Madigan with the last kick of an entertaining first half. Turning with the elements behind them, including a fresh rain shower, Leinster had to weather some early pressure before a Devin Toner block launched the blue shirts downfield. Sean Cronin carried twice to good effect and Heaslip again made crucial yardage before Eoin Reddan released Fanning to go over on the right. Madigan’s conversion made it a two-point game. Goode pushed a right-sided penalty across the posts and Leinster were looking increasingly potent, with hooker Cronin careering through tackles and the hard-earned momentum led to flanker Ryan powering over from a few metres out. TMO Derek Bevan confirmed the grounding and Madigan added the extras for 25-20, giving the hosts the impetus to push on in the final quarter. Number 8 Hughes led Wasps’ resistance at a scrum close to their own line and while Gordon D’Arcy and Kirchner had a couple of bites at the cherry, the bonus point try eluded Matt O’Connor’s men whose opening win sees them join Harlequins at the top of Pool 2.