Supporting the Arts in the Big Horn Basin

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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Jalan Crossland In Concert

The Basin City Arts Center presents Jalan Crossland in concert at 7 p.m. Friday, January 28.

"There ain't much to see in a small town, but what you hear sure makes up for it" is the old adage. In Ten Sleep WY, population 307, what you'll hear - more often than not - is a clanky old banjo ricocheting off the storefronts and buttes, like a renegade .22 rifle shell. This clamor is Jalan Crossland, the local trailer park troubadour. His singing voice is as dusty as the Triassic shale hillsides, spinning yarns and painting portraits of the lives and people of the rural Rocky Mountain West. "Gossip is even better when you sing it" says Jalan.

Raised in a small Wyoming town, Jalan Crossland is one of a very few “alt country” artists his age who still claims the “country” as home. Maybe this explains the lyrical, 'truth is stranger than fiction' wobble to his songs about 21st century rural life. Live and on recordings he adds dazzling guitar and banjo fingerpicking to his kanky tales of hobos, tires, “mobile homes”, strippers, motorcycles, trucks, cars, vice presidents and methamphetamines (“Drugs are bad” says Jalan).


Jalan has been touring both solo and with a band for ten years, but his musical upbringing is of course longer, and more sordid. Though the guitar spends a lot of time in Jalan's hands these days, the first stringed entity that caught his young eye and ear was the banjo, his uncle Dan figuring prominently in this. Despite this banjo affliction, Jalan somehow survived his Wyoming Teenage Boy Instinct for Self-Destruction well enough, to emerge in his twenties playing electric guitar for money on the road. All big hair playing a whammy-bar Ibanez Firebird copy, in Iron Maiden wannabe bands."

But the 'country' was and is always with him. Later Jalan's metal phase gave way, to touring with honky-tonk country bands as a hired gun. He moved to solo status in the late 1900s, which is also when he began crafting his strange, new-old-timey tales of sagebrush and asphalt. While building his reputation as a solo artist, Jalan spent a lot of time at home in Tensleep, Wyoming (pop. 300) either by the woodstove or on the porch, picking and picking and picking, becoming a roots music virtuoso. True to his slacker past, Jalan managed a mere second place finish in the 1997 Winfield National Guitar Fingerpicking competition but grabbed onto 1st in the state flatpicking contest of his Wyoming home.


Crossland's songs are vivid, first-hand accounts of life in the small towns and backcountry of 21st century America. Like the people they portray, the songs are tough and honest. They also reflect the tremendous heart and soul of their colorful characters. Even where the warp and weave is of hardship or heartbreak, the songs are threaded with strings of optimism and humor.

Crossland’s lyrics travel in a musical vehicle more akin to a rusty, hopped-up '66 Ford (with 3-on-the-tree) than an air-conditioned Prius. The sound glides along on the wheels of a country music clearly not to be mistaken for mainstream. Old-time and bluegrass are present, but treated to the creative freedom of rock-n-roll.

"More than just a great picker, Crossland's performances feature graceful delivery and genuine character." [Planet Jackson Hole, Jackson WY]


Whether performing solo or with his band, Jalan's concerts are energetic, upbeat and fun. On stage, he is as comfortable as he would be pickin’ on his own front porch. This relaxed demeanor disarms the coolest of audiences, pulling everyone onto that porch alongside him, with their luke-warm beer and paper plates full of hot-wings.

Crossland has been the opening act on several tours with alt-country legend Robert Earl Keen. He has also appeared on television, radio, and in dozens of magazines including The New York Times, No Depression, and Fingerstyle Guitar, and has shared concert and festival stages with many of the biggest musical acts in the nation.

"If you're lucky enough to hear Jalan play live, observe the audience. It will be made almost entirely of drop-jawed, glassy-eyed, altogether astonished listeners." [Panache Magazine, Black Hills SD]

All tickets are $12 each and will be available at the door starting at 6:30 p.m.

For more information contact Wendy at 568-2915.