Ruby Jewel Jamboree Featuring John Reischman and the Jaybirds


Loving The Beatles as a little kid, Mandolin player John Reischman began listening to folk and bluegrass music during his teen years.

This music became the main influence for his writing of bluegrass instrumental compositions, like his tune “Salt Spring”, which is now learned and well known by various artists around the country.

John started out in 1978 playing professionally in LA for the band Good Old Persons. John says, “At the time they were an all-women band with a respected feministic take. Kathy Kallick played with the band back then.”

This past spring, The Kathy Kallick Band was the opening concert for the Ruby Jewel Jamboree in Missoula. Therefore, it seems fitting to end the Jamboree concert series with John Reischman and The Jaybirds.

Known as one of the top Mandolin players in Canada and the United States, John brings with him his signature instrument, a 1924 Gibson F5, signed by Lloyd Loar. John says, “I almost always pull it out at some point during a concert and perform with this mandolin. I never travel without it.”

The Jaybirds consist of Jim Nunally (Guitar), Greg Spatz (Fiddle), Nick Hornbuckle (Banjo), and Trisha Gagnon (Bass) which Reischman gives credit to the bands success when John states, “It’s not just me and a bunch of guys.”

John Reischman and The Jaybirds

The band spent twelve years bluegrass picking, collaborating, composing, traveling, and performing together without a change in musicians. The Jaybirds are spread across the US and Canada and see each other only while touring. John says, “That’s one reason we stay together, and for us it works.”

It’s not just their cohesiveness as a band that led to their success, but their unusually beautiful tone that is highly acclaimed.

The Los Angeles Daily News wrote, “Though exceptional mandolinist Reischman gets his name out front, this Vancouver-based folkgrass band democratically spreads the spotlight. Bassist Trisha Gagnon’s pristine voice lends itself equally well to old English ballads, Civil War soldier’s prayers and her own stirring evocations of rural life, for example, and Nick Hornbuckle’s banjo work can be downright spine-tingling.”

Phyllis Erk is very excited to be ending the Jamboree with John Reischman and The Jaybirds. On the Jamborees website Phyllis writes, “Like the mandolinist at its helm, the group fashions a stylish, elegant take on bluegrass that is at once innovative and unadorned, sophisticated and stripped-down, happily old-fashioned, yet unselfconsciously new.”

On this Wednesday, August 16, at Ruby’s Inn you can hear the critically acclaimed and Juno award winning John Reischman and The Jaybirds. The jamboree starts at 6:30 pm; cost at the door is $10 ($8 MRBA members, Seniors and Vets) and as before, the Ruby Jewel Jamboree will be streaming live. You can view the concert online via Ustream. Ustream is best viewed with Firefox or Safari (Ustream has issues with Internet Explorer).

For more information or additional videos of the band, visit the Ruby Jewel Jamboree website.


Read more of Leisa’s stories about the Missoula music scene.


Missoula writer Leisa Greene Nelson

Call her a big city girl at heart, finding and satiating that appetite in the city of Missoula. Born in Butte and raised in Missoula, she is fascinated by people and looks for interesting characters to write about.  Everyone has a story to tell, or not, but the people and places in Missoula are unique.

Moving fast in life (for that big city feel) Leisa’s passions bounce around music, theater, food, art, family, and  friends that’s supported by an IV line of dark roasted coffee. Single and a recent graduate from the University of Montana with a BA in Creative Writing, she learned what it was like to be a co-ed in her 40s.

She currently works as an Office Manager at Inter-State Studio and Publishing, working on school photos and yearbooks. Her personal life and nightlife is where she discovers and creates creative non-fiction stories. She has four supportive, loving children:  Dustin, Michael, Jalynn, and Mark (adopted through marriage to Dustin) who are all artistically creative in writing, theater, dance, and singing.  Leisa likes to think she moves faster than they do.