It's been a few years since The Jir Project Band has recorded anything new. That changed with the recent release of Jir Anderson’s brand new EP, The Pueblo.
The five-song CD features a couple of new bandmates, Douglas Bellen (bass) and Kendall Bell (drums), but, the sound, while innovative, is familiar, at the same time. Anderson says of the new recording, “I had a lot going on since the release of [Sun Child] six years ago. I really had a lot of personal things going on that [went into] this new album.
“It's a blues album about hope. I really never put myself into a genre before, but everybody always says ‘Hey, that’s blues.’ So, I embraced it.” He's not the stereotypical older, grayer, more road-weary blues figure. His lyrics and guitar riffs are “bluesy,” but his concert performances have all the energy and sizzle of a James Brown show.
Anderson cites the metal bands of the ’80s as a major influence but he listened to everything, from his parents' Elvis collection to his sisters’ favorite bands. There was even some disco thrown in to round things out. “Redbone...when I knew there was a Native [disco] group, that got me more interested. Come And Get Your Love is more disco/funk. So, I picked up on that,” he says. “Also, my parents were really into the Native group, XIT. Of course, Stevie Ray Vaughan was a big influence; Stanley Jordan, George Lynch. And, A. Paul Ortega was another influence.
“I think my style develops year by year. I started out on a guitar I made from one of my mom's cutting boards. I tied some wires to it, and figured out a way to tune it. I just listened to the people I admired and tried to [imitate] their styles. After I had been playing for about nine or 10 years, I stopped doing that. I started just kinda doing my own thing. I really put my heart and emotions into it,” he said.
Anderson says he draws energy from his band and within, but mostly he feeds off the crowd. “I’m jumping around, having a good time. The audience picks up on that. The age group might not be particularly drawn to the [blues], but when they see a live show, they look past that [to] just see an artist performing. And, they participate.”
Anderson describes the title track, The Pueblo, as “where I come from, Cochiti Pueblo. It really talks about all the Pueblos. We’re all similar. We're really closely tied. It [shaped] me into the person that I am. When you're going through hard times, all you have to fall back on is what you're really made of.”
Anderson borrows heavily from his own life’s experiences to create his unique sound. Anderson explained how the song Alright Tonight was inspired by life events from the last couple of years. “I went through a divorce, after 12 years of marriage. I lost one of my sons. It was a really, really hard time. I had to really open myself up and ask for help. This song is about all those people that stepped up and opened themselves up [to help me]. The song just talks about me going through that process. And, realizing that everything was going to be alright.
“I'm really excited about the new album. It's definitely my favorite [of the music I’ve done]. The writing’s real personal. But, the music [is] as well. I really let [Doug and Kendall] into the process and asked for their help on [creative direction]. We realized that we had written something really powerful. Bill Palmer from Frogville Studio (Santa Fe, New Mexico) engineered the album. He brought out a lot from me, individually, and us, as a band. Again, it’s about hope. I’m really proud of where I come from. I’m really thankful. The reservation really gives you some strong roots,” he said.