The 5th Annual Guitar Festival by Power Jam Music Alliance Inc. will be held on March 11th. The headliner for the festival is Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer. They’ve earned two GRAMMY® Awards and an additional 11 GRAMMY® nominations. The featured performances are by local guitar artists Longman Joseph Norris, and Dylan Galvin. The opening acts are Jessica St. Clair, David Flood, Josh Riley, and Brandon Aksteter. This article is about Jessica St. Claire, this trio is new, but the members have been playing guitar for a combined 46 years, they will be largest group at the guitar festival. (see www.pjma.info for more details)
The St. Clair Trio is made up of 3 local, experienced musicians. Jessica St. Clair shares her professionally trained, lead and background vocals with Jeff Bowles and bears the name of the band. Jeff and Joe met about 23 years ago playing in the trio Jaded and have continued to work and play together, off and on, ever since. They both met Jessica around 2009, while playing an Equine Therapy benefit for Jessie’s Dad at his horse ranch in Chaptico, MD. The three got together, ever so often, for a few years after that, jumping into last minute throw together gigs and finally getting together to form St. Clair in 2015.
Joe Huffman is one of the most-respected electric guitar players in the Southern Maryland area, playing a combination of Fender, Gibson, Gretsch and PRS guitars, depending on his mood and the song. Joe started playing in bands and actually getting paid for it around 30 years ago, initially learning guitar while jamming with his brother and his Dad. He embraced the blues method of playing and joined a band called “The Incredible Johnsons” in Northern Va., opening for people like Bobby Radcliff, Delbert McClinton, Johnny Winters and Joe’s idol, Danny Gatton. Joe moved to So. Md. in about 1994 and joined a band called “Bay Country” which, Joe says, was one of his most rewarding experiences as a musician. Bay Country won numerous awards and music contests, which led to Bay Country recording a CD. Joe co-wrote many of the songs on the CD, which the band sold to Wal-Mart, who then put them on a tour up and down the east coast. This led to Bay Country opening for Terri Clark, Ty Herndon, Daryl Singletary, Wret Atkins, Trace Adkins, Tracy Bird, Montgomery Gentry, George M. Montgomery, Cheryl Wright and Jon Conlee to name a few. Joe also did a lot of session work for some great So. Md. artists on their CD’s and had a blast doing it!
Jeff Bowles starting singing quite young, well, not right out of the womb, as George Carlin says, but shortly thereafter and never lost his enthusiasm for singing in front of people; whether solo, in choirs, choruses and finally bands. Jeff started playing guitar at about 20 years old to support his vocals and has been in a band of some sort, for the past 35 years. Jeff has been trying to improve his vocal qualities for decades and “may just be one of the best harmony singers in the So. Md. Area”, so he says. Jeff has also played in quite a few other bands throughout his career with names like Numbers, Stuck in Traffic the Ray Hammett-ups, Cloud9 and Renegade in and around Southern Maryland and Northern Virginia and Augsburg, Germany. Jeff had the pleasure of opening for Paul Reed Smith and the Dragons, with the Stuck in Traffic Trio, at a local Maryland benefit. Jeff continues working on his vocals…aiming for those perfect 3 or 4 (or more) part harmonies. You know, the ones that give you goosebumps.
For the Jessica St. Clair Trio, Joe Huffman plays lead guitar on a combination of Fender, Gibson, Gretsch and PRS guitars, depending on the song and provides backing harmony vocals. Jeff plays rhythm guitar on his Martin OOO or US Made PRS Angelus and provides lead and backing harmonies. The Jessica St Clair Trio will be playing a combination of classic rock, country and western, a little this, a little that. The goals of St. Clair are to combine their multi-faceted musical talents; Joe’s natural guitar talent and flair with Jessie and Jeff’s trained vocals into a tight harmony of music that will be familiar to their audiences, while still integrating their individual styles and sounds.
Come with your guitar at 2 PM to 4 PM for the Guitar Workshop with Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer and stay around for the Guitar Concert and Art Show at 7 PM to 11 PM. All ages are welcome. The festival will be held at the 5 South Event Center, 21030 Point Lookout Road, Callaway, Maryland 20620. The festival is sponsored by the Maryland State Arts Council and the St. Mary’s County Arts Council. For further information, go to www.PJMA.info or call 240-925-8659.