Jackamo eloquently builds from the ground up.
The Hamtramck indie folk sibling duo of Alison Wiercioch and Tessa Wiercioch seamlessly constructs a resilient emotional framework comprised of growth, wisdom and reflection on their poignant debut single, “Foundations.”
“We both hope this song helps people to find closure. No matter what, if you keep trying, and you keep working at something, you don’t have to give up just because of the foundation being cracked,” said Tessa Wiercioch, who formed Jackamo with Alison in 2019.
Together, Jackamo instantly seals delicate “Foundations” cracks as sorrowful acoustic strums, thumping drums, pensive strings, tearful electric guitar, thoughtful bass and heavenly First Aid Kit-esque harmonies solidify the soul.
Alison Wiercioch reveals, “I’ve been trying lately/Caught up on the other side/And I’ve been crying lately/Trying to do what they think is right/And I’ve been crying, I’ve been crying/But it’s the fire that makes the ore/And I’ve been dying, I’ve been dying/But I’m tired and I’m sore.”
“I hope all of our songs bring comfort and that people feel something through our music. It’s a huge thing that we always keep in mind when we’re writing and putting music out,” said Alison Wiercioch, who’s the elder sibling by three years.
The Wiercioch sisters invited a team of metro Detroit musical architects to design and shape “Foundations” at Royal Oak’s Rustbelt Studios in 2019. Sammy Boller (guitar), Jimmy Showers (guitar), Steve Lehane (bass) and Steve Stetson (drums) created an emotive, folky infrastructure while Maurice “Pirahnahead” Herd (string arrangements), Sarah Cleveland (cello), John Madison (viola) and Joe Deller (violin) added cinematic soundscapes.
“When we had material to record, we thought about who we wanted to work with, and Steve Lehane immediately popped into our heads. We went out to coffee with Steve, and he was this ray of light. Steve was beaming with creativity, and he wanted to see us play our songs. He wanted to bring his friend Sammy along and said they both wanted to work with us,” said Alison Wiercioch.
With Lehane and Boller at the production helm, Jackamo recorded five initial tracks at Rustbelt Studios to lay the groundwork for the duo’s timeless, all-weather sound. They continued to write additional material and perform live throughout the Motor City until COVID-19 shuttered music venues last March.
“Something Ali and I have both realized about these songs is that they haven’t aged a bit. We’re hoping that comes across to others as well. It’s been two years, but we still love them the same. We want to make sure that our music is timeless because we like artists from every decade, and we hope our music won’t have an expiration date,” said Tessa Wiercioch.
The Wierciochs’ musical origins date back to radio-less Pontiac Sunbird singalongs over loud muffler noises and intimate bonfire gatherings with friends while growing up in Howell. The sibling duo discovered their honeyed voices perfectly blended through lush, soothing harmonies on Ingrid Michaelson’s “You and I” after a friend recorded an impromptu carpool performance.
“He was so enamored and excited that he took a video recording and was like, ‘I’m going to show all my friends.’ We were like, “Cool, maybe we could do something with this.’ Ali and I would sing songs we wrote at bonfires and send each other ideas. We were built on our family believing and being involved in music, and we’ve been in music ever since,” said Tessa Wiercioch.
During their childhood, the Wierciochs listened to albums on vinyl with their parents and developed a deep appreciation for Lucinda Williams, Neil Young, Ted Hawkins, Damien Rice, and The Head and the Heart. Their father also played guitar while their mother sang along, instilling a lifelong love of music, live performance and songwriting.
“They’d put on an entire album and listen to it in full. What we loved it is that they would talk about the album in between songs. They either agreed or they didn’t. My room was positioned in a way that Tessa and I could peer around the corner, and we would watch them. It was cool just to see that and grow up with it,” said Alison Wiercioch, whose grandparents are musical as well.
In high school, the Wiercioch sisters studied their love of music through choir and theater. They continued to hone their songwriting and harmonies even while Alison Wiercioch attended the Detroit Institute of Music Education (DIME). At the time, they also formed their first band, The Redwoods, with several friends.
By 2019, they created Jackamo and developed a heartfelt, harmony-filled indie folk sound akin to First Aid Kit and Lucius. They also selected a band moniker that honors the legacy of a beloved family friend named Rudolph Jackymack who died in the Vietnam War.
“Rudolph Jackymack was one of our grandparents’ best friends while they were growing up. It’s something that resonated with both of our grandparents, and we’re proud and grateful to do be able to do that,” said Tessa Wiercioch.
As Jackamo, the Wiercioch sisters will continue honoring their family’s personal and musical legacy while building their creative vision in 2021. The sibling duo provided soaring harmonies on four tracks featured on Mike Ward’s latest album, The Darkness and The Light, and will release a new video for “Foundations” on March 5. They also will drop two additional singles – “Molly Kate” and “Stay” – this spring and summer.
“We want to keep releasing singles, and after that Tessa and I want to get back into the studio and record some of the new stuff we’ve been working on. These recordings are from two years ago, and we have evolved and changed a bit since then,” said Alison Wiercioch.
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