Oregon Music News: Oregon’s all-genre music magazine since 2009

Jeff Stoval
Jeff Stoval

Jeff Stovall: Backhouse Transcendental at Robin Road / Audio

By Inessa // Jeff’s take on the name?  The things that are really going on, that really matter, they happen at the back of the house. It’s not all necessarily what you can see up front,

Jeff Stovall has been in and out of Portland several times. Most recently a return just within the last two years. Raising his little ones. Creating a life that has family at center, and a creative company he has fashioned out of thin air. But life has had Jeff wander many different paths and places, from the beginnings in New Jersey, to Cali on music-making expeditions, to Portland a few times over. And now roots are down again.

It doesn't have to be pretty…but it comes mighty close, most of the time. That’s the title of his most recent album, It Doesn’t Have To Be Pretty. Events, projects, and life unfold all in their own sweet time in the world of Jeff and his music project, Backhouse Transcendental. Jeff was also an integral part of Northern California band, The Dirt Floor. In our conversation, below, Jeff includes his song “Half A Sack” and he ends our session with a great tune called “San Joaquin” from the Dirt Floor song collection. Here’s a little bit of an idea of what motivates their fine sound.

Who is The Dirt Floor Band? Five Northern California dudes playing original kickass-punk-grass; their own special blend of skirt liftin’, rump shakin’, whiskey swillin’ mutt music. Bringing together the sounds of bluegrass, punk rock, and a little gypsy – with a few country ballads and some funk to round it out- they do it all with guitars, banjo, mandolin, harmonica, bass, drums and even some Jethro Tull-style flute for those special spots. Their songs are familiar, but a little twisted. Tons of fun, but with an edge. The DFB’s live performances showcase a raw, ragged-edged intensity that invites the audience to join in for a slightly insane night of music, dancing, and a damn good time.

Backhouse Transcendental carries it all forward in a surprisingly mesmerizing way. Jeff’s take on the name?  The things that are really going on, that really matter, they happen at the back of the house. It’s not all necessarily what you can see up front, Jeff reminds us. So, chew on that!

Jeff is only beginning to talk with people about music again, so, at the moment,  we aren’t looking at where to catch Jeff in a performance. Good time, in that case, to get to know the backstory and what keeps Jeff’s mind in motion. He tells me that the moment of falling in love with music happened late one night in Jersey, when he was just a kid. Tom Waits music may have been involved. And what are the makings of a decent song anyway. And then there’s a fascinating Elliott Smith connection. That, during the Heatmiser days, when he spent a good deal of time with the band. Saw all their shows. Part of the fabric weave of that moment.

And it’s not just music. There’s the little matter of a fascinating take on plant life and how it can help in our everyday. Link up to Jeff’s company, Living Air Plant Service. You will hear how he dreamed up the concept when you listen to our convo.


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