Joe Jencks: Classic Folk for Contemporary Times

Photo by John Mazlish.

By: Dan Peacock, New SCENE

Accomplished Folk musician and boisterous baritone Joe Jencks recently visited Fort Collins on a cozy Sunday night, tucked in the corner-stage of a packed Avogadro’s Number. With his mandolin, teardrop shaped bouzouki guitar, and acoustic guitar, Joe opened the night with a theme all too relatable to anyone who’s spent much time near Mason or Riverside street. “Song of the Rails” tells of the woes of a laborer whose talents and fate continue to lay him in the railway industry. He was accompanied at times by Gretchen O’dell, a Fort Collins soulful folk singer and Colorado State University professor.

“Art doesn’t have to be about revolution to be revolutionary.” -Joe Jencks


One of the most remarkable aspects of a Joe Jencks concert is how he often weaves the lyrics of an upcoming verse within verses in an unobtrusive fashion. Doing so allowed the audience to sing along with ease. This turned the standard unilateral concert setting into a truly shared experience between artist, audience, and one another. “Every show I do is about breaking the fourth wall,” said Jencks. Jencks is passionate about the civic and humanitarian power behind such social experiences as singing with a purpose. Whether it be within his own tunes, or in leading a campfire classic like “If I Had A Hammer,” you can’t help but smile along with his uniquely soothing form of showmanship.

The high point was experiencing “Going Home,” a song written and performed by Jencks. It was the kind of soul wrench-er that naturally encompassed itself with a montage of emotional times in the listener’s head – happy and tragic alike.

“A song for the wanderer home now at last
A song for redemption from sins of the past”

“A song for the poet who runs out of time
Before she can finish her famous last…”

In fact if there was a motif of the night encompassing the themes of the worker, the rebel, and the many wanderers, it would be the viscerally relaxing and cohesive connection each song inspired throughout the crowd. It was easy to imagine Joe’s songs, written by himself or others being passed down and beloved as is meant by the genera of folk. His harmonizing with Ms. O’dell, his amiable and honest descriptions of the inspirations behind a song, and his sonorous sequences made the night a truly hopeful treat.

For more information on Joe Jencks’s music, tour dates, and more, visit Joe’s albums, past, present, and future are on CD Baby, and through your favorite streaming services. Make sure to keep an eye open for Joe’s upcoming CD release; The Forgotten – Recovered Treasures From the Pen of Si Kahn. More information about Gretchen O’dell-

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