Gary Antol’s life spent living in mountain towns in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Maryland give him an authentic perspective to draw on as he leads his band, the Jakob’s Ferry Stragglers.
Their old-time, bluegrass, jamgrass, rockabilly, and swing music influences lead some to call what they do high energy Appalachian Bluegrass. Gary says it much more simple than that. We’re just here to, “write good songs, honor the music, have fun, and take it to the road.”
The Stragglers have become a popular band in the festival circuit, entertaining crowds with their brand of grass. Their latest CD, their third, Poison River, is set to release this summer. Folks have said they are, “a daring and talented young bunch (Bluegrass Unlimited), and their music “will touch that part of your heart that loves good songs,” Bruce Mountjoy, WYEP.
Gary said, “as cliché as it might sound, I was really turned on by the sounds of Elvis as a young kid. My mom really loved the early Elvis, the rock-a-billy stuff. It was a combination of that, and my dad’s Beatles albums lying around all over the place. My dad played guitar too, and that really got me started in wanting to learn to play.”
Gary grew up as a kid playing guitar in the 80s and says he was “really into all that hair band music. No matter how terrible the music was, they all had really fantastic guitar players,” he recalled. “I spent a few years wanting to be Eddie Van Halen.” Gary moved on to the Blues, which progressed into an interest in Jazz, which led him to Duane University where he graduated with a degree in Jazz Guitar.
That led to stints at amusement parts, then cruise ships before finding himself fronting an Appalachian roots band. “It was a strange way to play music, but a nice way to make a living,” he mused.
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