State by state
In 2014, the Reno band Jelly Bread played nearly nearly 200 gigs in nearly 40 states. “Last year we put over 100,000 miles on our Sprinter,” said guitarist-singer-songwriter Dave Berry.
Despite the nearly constant touring, the group is also one of the most popular acts in the community. (Earlier this year, the band came in third in the “best local band” category in the RN&R’s annual reader poll, The Biggest Little Best of Northern Nevada.) The appeal is easy to hear. The group mixes tight soul grooves with swampy lap steel guitar lines, funky vintage keyboard and organ sounds, upbeat horn charts, and jammy guitar solos. It used to be easy to peg the group as a funk band—but the band’s sound has evolved recently to include more gospel and Southern rock sounds. Basically, they’re the band you really hope to hear at the rib cook-off. The sound is accessible but eclectic, and the musicianship is top-tier.
Berry and singer-drummer-songwriter Cliff Porter co-founded the band in 2008, and they’re the only remaining original members. The lineup now includes keyboardist Eric Matlock, bassist Jeremy Hunt and lead guitarist Sean Lehe, who just joined the band over the summer but whose melodic, exploratory guitar solos add unexpected flavors to the group’s sound.
Another important factor for the group’s sound is the quality control they exert over their live shows, as evidenced by the fact that they tour with their own sound engineer, Todd Rold.
“He’s the man,” said Berry. “He saves us, makes it easy.”
“We also use really consistent gear,” said Matlock. “Because our engineer likes that to be consistent, no matter where we go, we almost always use the same set-ups.”
The musicians have favorite venues all across the country, like The Hive in Sandpoint, Idaho, but the band members also really enjoy playing shows on the festival circuit.
“When you do a festival, you know that people are coming to hear music,” said Porter. “They’re already engaged in what you’re going to do.”
“They’re looking to discover music,” said Berry.
They’ve played some of the nearby music festivals, like High Sierra Music Festival and Strawberry Music Festival, as well as Waterfront Blues Festival up in Portland and Rochester International Jazz Festival in New York.
The band’s constant touring is also referenced in the title of the new album, Here, There and Everywhere. They took recording equipment with them on the road and recorded at friends’ houses on days off. The record release party for the album is on Friday, Oct. 9, at the Nugget Celebrity Showroom. For the show, the band will be augmented by a horn section featuring local players Davis Corl, Karl Busch and Eric Johnson and backing vocalists Susan Young and Tawny Hernandez of the Prince tribute band Formerly Known As.
Here, There and Everywhere is a follow-up to the 2012 album No Dress Code as well as last year’s EP Lessons Learned. When the band started, Berry was the sole songwriter, but now Porter and Matlock also contribute songwriting. One of the band’s neat tricks is to write a song that sounds upbeat but explores sombre themes lyrically. An example of this is the track “By and By” which sounds like an upbeat gospel rave-up but Berry says the lyrics are partly about contemplating suicide.
“It’s hard for me to write a happy damn song,” said Berry. “I write because I’m upset or depressed. So I’ll write a song. These guys give me shit, ’C’mon, man, suicide? Drugs?’”
“Do we need to have an intervention?” said Porter.
“No, because I wrote a song, so I’m better now.” said Berry.