John Reischman and The Jaybirds
Meet the Jaybirds - Nick Hornbuckle
Meet the Jaybirds - Nick Hornbuckle Meet the Jaybirds - Nick Hornbuckle
Jim Nunally Greg Spatz John Reischman Nick Hornbuckle Trisha Gagnon
It's a lethal cocktail of piano lessons and liver and onions that gave Jaybird Nick Hornbuckle a wicked case of banjo fever, which he hasn't quite licked yet. The regimen of piano lessons at one Mrs. Newman's house, where it seemed the odiferous dish was always what's-for- dinner, drove an 8 year-old Hornbuckle from the keyboard to the more parochial, portable parlor instrument he handles as a member of the Jaybirds.

“I got infected with banjo fever,” he deadpans.

Banjo fever is chronic over a lifetime, but in this case the contagion seems to have gone into relative recession for a period of years during which Hornbuckle was seen sporting the Doc Martens and ripped jeans of the "grunge" rock movement. Bassist for the Seattle-based group Son of Man, the Jaybird-to-be was courted by record company giants as part of the signing frenzy brought on by the success of Nirvana. Fortunately for Reischman and company, Son of Man never inked a deal.

Now British Columbia-based, Hornbuckle finds his earliest keyboard lessons and his rocker past still have bearing on his influences, which range from The Police, Led Zeppelin, and The Beatles to Flatt and Scruggs, and Beethoven (in the sense that he admires Ludwig's hairdo — no foolin'). He is also a student of old-time music, which informs his unique playing style: a two-finger blend of modal, clawhammer technique and Scruggs-style bluegrass rolls showcased on all the Jaybirds' recordings. As the Los Angeles Daily News says of his banjo work in a recent review of Stellar Jays: “Downright spine-tingling.”