(or JIIG) came into being when singer and concertina player Ian Robb (of
Finest Kind and Friends of Fiddler’s Green) decided to record a long
overdue “solo” album, and realized he didn’t have to look very far in
his home town of Ottawa for some really top-notch help. The solo album
quickly evolved into a group project, and the pre-existing trio of James
Stephens, Ian Clark and Greg T. Brown, then known acronymously as JIG,
took on a fourth member and a second “i”.
The music of JïG centres around Ian R’s masterful singing of mostly traditional, mostly English songs, and is balanced by some stellar instrumental sets showcasing the various stylistic influences and uncommon musicianship of James, Ian C and Greg, all leading lights of the vibrant Ottawa pub session scene . The band finds its tunes mainly in the Québec, Ontario, Appalachian and Irish repertoires, or among James and Greg’s own compositions, and produces a sound that is at once rich and rhythmic, eloquent and edgy. In addition to their concert appearances, the members of JïG love to play for contra dances.
Perhaps best-known as a record producer (Finest
Kind, Pierre Schryer, Glen Road, Genticorum, The
Brian Pickell Band and countless other artists in the folk/acoustic genre;
winner of the 2003 Porcupine Award as “Producer of the Year”),
James is one of Canada’s most versatile and inventive fiddle players,
mastering a multitude of styles from Cape Breton to Bluegrass, Québecois to
Appalachian Old Time, Irish to Ottawa Valley.
James plays “anything that has four strings”, and works his way
through viola, violin, mandolin and tenor guitar in the course of a JïG
performance. He has played with a Who’s
Who of Canadian folk music, from Lynn Miles to Finest Kind,
and has a shady previous life in classical and rock music.
A founder member of the Estelle Klein
Achievement Award-winning Friends of Fiddler’s Green, and a
third of the acclaimed vocal harmony trio Finest Kind, Ian is one
of North America’s most respected singers of English traditional song, with a
singing career spanning more than 30 years. He bought his first English
concertina in the 1970s, using it first for song accompaniment, and gradually
evolving a solid, rhythmic style of playing dance tunes, that he uses to good
effect in JïG. Ian has been a
long-time builder and advocate of the folk music scene; he co-founded the Old
Sod Folk Music Society of Ottawa, served several years as a regular
columnist for Come for to Sing and Sing Out! Magazines, and has
been a board member of the Canadian Folk Music Society and Canadian
Vice-President of Local 1000, the travelling musicians’ union.
In addition to his work with The Friends of Fiddler’s Green and Finest
Kind, Ian has three previous solo albums to his credit.
A solid grounding in swing guitar has given
Ian a seemingly unlimited chord vocabulary and a great sense of groove that he
exploits fully in his playing with JïG. Though brought up in Scotland, his
passion for “Celtic” playing only developed when he discovered Ottawa’s
session scene, and he soon became a favourite among that city’s many great
players, adding a mastery of DADGAD tuning to his already broad palate.
Recently. Ian has been playing with Canadian fiddle great Pierre Schryer,
and Ian and Pierre’s live duo CD “Heat of the Moment” is a classic
showcase of uninhibited and inventive duet playing.
He has also performed in the last few years with the Friends of
Fiddler’s Green and has played and recorded with Finest Kind, among
Greg T. Brown
Fiddle and accordion alumnus of many bands
including Matapat, Tüq and Glen Road,.
Greg is originally from Newfoundland, and cut his musical teeth on the tunes of
Rufus Guinchard and Emile Benoit under the guidance of current Newfoundland
fiddle great Christina Smith. Since moving to Ottawa and most recently
Montreal, he has added a variety of styles to his tune repertoire, most notably
from the Irish and Québecois traditions. Greg has also added accordion, anglo
concertina, viola and guitar to his arsenal, and loves to interject a song or
two into the proceedings. The older members of the band say he is an amazingly
quick study—“once through and he has it... It’s sickening”.