Juniper Tree

July 24, 2000

Juniper Tree

By Jess Davis

Concert dates:

Sunday, July 30

2 to 7 p.m.

Summer Bash One

Colonial Lounge

Pennsylvania Avenue


Featuring Room5, Buddha-Shwank, Hotrod Otis, Jason Teach and Juniper Tree

Benefits John Marsh Cancer Center.

$15 admission includes T-shirt


Saturday, Aug. 5

9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.

The Broad Axe

Franklin Street


no cover

Sunday, Aug. 20

outdoor concert, weather permitting

two shows - 8:30 and 10:30 p.m.

The Mountain House

U.S. 30

McConnellsburg, Pa.

Local band Juniper Tree is the "Led Zeppelin of alternative music," says band manager Joe McComas.

But band members are reluctant to label their unique sound.


"We're striving to write music that will succeed in the future, not quite what's popular now but what we think will be popular in the time to come," says bassist Chad Keener.

Drummer Donnie Gipe expresses a simpler view: "You listen to a couple of songs, and you figure it out."

At a recent show at the Mountain House in McConnellsburg, Pa., McComas asked the owners to take a chance on a band they had never heard before. Juniper Tree performed on a Wednesday night to a packed house of all ages and was invited back to play on Sunday, Aug. 20.

The band has never played and not been invited back a second time.

"That's what makes me excited as a manager," says McComas, who's with SuperSounds Management. "I put a group in an unknown room, and all of a sudden, we are accepted."

The band's beginnings

In 1994, lead singer Jamie Luhn was a member of the band Resurrection Mary which, through a series of hiring and firings, became Juniper Tree. The band's name is taken from a Grimm's Fairy Tale title.

While Juniper Tree may have its roots in distinctive songs, McComas hopes to add an element of theatrics to future shows. During a performance of the band's original song "Freak Show," McComas masqueraded as a "freak" complete with a white, Michael Myers-esque mask while frontman Luhn sang to him on stage. Response to the presentation drew an encore and has prompted McComas to consider putting more dramatic effects into Juniper Tree shows, such as creative dancing.

Luhn pens most of the lyrics. The instrumentation of songs is a collaborative effort.

"I like to compare my writing to painting a picture," Luhn says. "What I try to do is create a mood, and the listener can interpret the message." Inspiration may come from Luhn's favorite musicians, such as U2, Leonard Cohen or Bob Dylan, or from taking a vacation in the mountains. Along with Keener and Gipe, keyboard player Nat White and guitarist Chad "Chadwick" Davis contribute ideas for new songs, sometimes drawing from White's influences -The Doors and John Coltrane or Davis' preferred artists - Pearl Jam, Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn.

Performing is a form of "emotional release" says Davis, known by fellow bandmates as "the quiet one" who lets his guitar speak for him.

"You can talk, and no one listens, but when you get up there on stage, people listen," adds Luhn.

The band creates "silent communication" with ease and style. Most of Juniper Tree's music is original, interspersed with a few cover tunes by The Doors, The Beatles, moby and Bob Dylan, among others.

Keener acknowledges that while local music is "thriving," there is a lack of places to play that accept local music, and not a lot of support from local radio stations.

Juniper Tree is making a trip to California in September to make connections with a nationally-known band in the hopes of a record deal. In the meantime, the band has big plans: "Our goal is to conquer Hagerstown and then the world," jokes Keener.

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