Oakland-based Junk Parlor’s multi-faceted gypsy Junk-Rock is beloved by its dedicated and growing local fans and worldwide converts alike. While the band has been a galvanizing force on the Bay Area Indie Rock scene since its 2013 inception, European touring, International chart-topping and digital discovery have propelled the band toward more widespread recognition. With a notable track-record of impeccable studio work and crowd-pleasing, colorful live performances, Junk Parlor invites its audiences on a sonic adventure down a joyful, raucous path, conjuring up a fantastically-edgy and intoxicating dreamscape. The band’s signature sound is multi-faceted; spattered with traditional Eastern-European songs, Manouche rhythms, Bohemian janglings and exotic vintage belly dance melodies. Modern musical stylings are also interwoven, with 50s Rock ‘n’ Roll and Punk influences on display in the band’s own heady, moody and haunting self-penned tunes.
Once described as “Crooner Punk”, Jason Vanderford’s Leonard Cohen-esque baritone vocals and poetic lyrics float amidst acoustic Manouche-style jazz guitar, ripping violin, banjo, colorful cajon percussion and fretless electric bass. This eclectic mix makes Junk Parlor is that crazy-rare band whose vibe is so driven by a joyful schizophrenia of sounds that it transcends easy genre trappings. That said, they’ve been compared to artists including Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen, Gogol Bordello, Dead Kennedys and Tom Waits.
Vanderford spent five years recording and touring with jazz sensation The Hot Club of San Francisco, Vanderford’s foray toward Junk Parlor began almost by accident. Emerging as one of the region’s “go-to” musicians for his rhythm guitar, in 2013, his uncle Tim Bush (a renowned 30+ year prof. bassist who bought him his first guitar at 14), asked him to play his acoustic at a wine bar in Petaluma, CA. It was here he randomly met Robin “RT” Goodrich – who plays drums, percussion and cajon – who had laid down rhythms and toured with Staggerwing. Beso Negro and Emma Lee Project – who boldly told Vanderford he wanted to put a group together. “I’d never met him, but he said he knew who I was,” Vanderford says. “I was hesitant but asked him to sit in with me for a few months. Then he shows up one day saying he booked the band. I told him we didn’t have a name and he said we better get one! So then, I took it seriously.”
Soon thereafter, Tim Bush became the band’s bassist (electric fretless bass) and two years later, the trio added Laela Peterson-Stolen’s soaring violin and viola to the band. The quartet played their first gig and five months later recorded its debut album “Wild Tones”. In 2015, their album Melusina was voted into the Top Ten albums made in the North Bay of 2015 by the Marin Independent Journal. The band started actively touring and picked up its newest musician, accordionist JD Limelight, after he filled in on bass on a recent UK Tour. “It was great to be adopted by the band after the tour. I guess I looked good enough in a suit to represent the Junk Parlor brand!,” he quips.
The band continues to evolve musically, bringing a resonating human element to the mix that others often lack. At the heart of Junk Parlor’s knack for getting audiences dancing and singing along is Vanderford’s passion for storytelling. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a jazz musician, singer or dancer – the goal is always telling a great story. I love getting out there and hearing people’s stories and then transforming those into songs that can be interpreted in unique ways by the band, dancers and everyone in the audience that it touches.”