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Jawbone

b. Robert Walter Zabor, 8 June 1964, Mt. Clemens, Michigan, USA. This one-man punk blues act gained much attention when legendary UK DJ John Peel aired his raw and heartfelt stomps and boogies on BBC Radio 1 in early 2004. In due course, the initially self-released Dang Blues was picked up by London-based label Loose on signing with them in July 2004. At the end of the year, ‘Hi-De-Hi’ and ‘Jackrabbit’ went on to feature in the late Peel’s final Festive 50. Although Jawbone shares his name with a track on the second album by the Band, the liner notes of Dang Blues stated that the moniker was taken from the side of a removal van that frequented his neighbourhood. The van in question appeared on the inlay of 2006’s Hauling, and the image accurately represented the hard working, sleepy and modest Michigan suburban town in which Zabor grew up. Almost all of his Polish descendents worked in the automobile industry, his father spending 35 years with General Motors, a company that was name checked alongside the BBC in the raucous Hauling track, ‘All Want Jesus Name’.

Heavily influenced by the 50s wild rockabilly one-man-band Hasil Adkins, Jawbone’s sound was much more blues based and betrayed a single-minded vision similar to Captain Beefheart and Billy Childish. If Bruce Springsteen’s contemporary We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions was a plush, widescreen version of Appalachian folk, then Jawbone’s distorted take on field call blues suited a dusty, vintage black and white small-screen television. His strident vocal delivery on much of Dang Blues and Hauling, recalled Bob Dylan hollering over the Butterfield Blues Band in Newport 1964. Although it was the UK music press that initially took notice of these DIY-style releases, by the end of 2006 both albums had been picked up by US distributor Carrot Top, with many favourable American reviews following.
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