Jump Little Children
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About Jump Little Children
South Carolina's Jump, Little Children earned a devoted following in the late '90s and early 2000s thanks to their unusual mix of melodic alt-rock, acoustic chamber pop, and Irish influences. From their early days busking on the street corners of Charleston to their popular annual New Year's Eve shows at the Dock Street Theatre, they established themselves as a regional institution while also gaining a national audience with albums like 1998's Atlantic-released Magazine and later independent releases like 2001's Vertigo and 2004's Between the Dim & the Dark. After disbanding at the end of 2005, Jump, Little Children reunited a decade later for a series of live dates and eventually released their 2018 comeback album, Sparrow.
Named in honor of the song by bluesmen Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, Jump, Little Children originally formed in 1991 at Winston-Salem's North Carolina School of the Arts, where founding members Jay Clifford (vocals, guitar), Ward Williams (cello), and brothers Matt (harmonica, accordion, mandolin) and Evan Bivins (drums) were studying classical music. Influenced by a friend from Dublin, they began playing traditional Irish folk music in their spare time, increasingly drawing influence from Delta blues as well; eventually, the group quit school to focus on performing full-time, even gigging in Ireland in 1992 before returning to the U.S. and settling in Boston. Jump, Little Children began writing and performing original material there, and in the spring of 1994 they relocated to Charleston, South Carolina, adding upright bassist Jonathan Gray and building a grassroots following through their extensive street-corner performances and club dates. Turning increasingly toward pop, in 1995 the band released its independent debut, The Licorice Tea Demos, which blended quirky acoustic pop with the group's various folk, blues, and Irish influences. The live Buzz EP followed in 1997, and soon thereafter Jump, Little Children signed to Atlantic, issuing their major-label debut, Magazine, the following year. A far more streamlined affair, Magazine ushered in a new electric-based alt-rock sound for the band, though ironically it was the lush string-laden acoustic single "Cathedrals" that gained the most radio traction.
Working with the same producer, Brad Jones, Jump, Little Children recorded a follow-up album in a similar indie rock and chamber pop vein before being dropped by Atlantic in 2001. Following a legal battle for the album's rights, they managed to release Vertigo via their own imprint, EZ Chief Records, in September 2001 and made a strong showing on Billboard's Independent Albums chart. They spent the following year and a half touring before taking a hiatus in the summer of 2003. Returning in 2004 with their name abbreviated simply to Jump, they released the Rick Beato-produced Between the Dim and the Dark via Brash Music, followed a year later by a B-sides and rarities EP called Between the Glow and the Light. By the summer of 2005, Jump had decided to call it quits, announcing that their much-loved annual New Year's Eve show at Charleston's Dock Street Theatre that year would be their last. A live double album recording of their swan song was released in 2006 as Live at the Dock Street Theatre.
A decade passed before Jump, Little Children confirmed rumors of a reunion, which they fittingly made at Dock Street Theatre on December 28, 2015, almost ten years to the day after their final performance. A short reunion tour followed in 2016 as die-hard fans clambered to get tickets, prompting the band to book a few more shows to meet the demand. A festival appearance and another brief series of shows were played in 2017, followed in early 2018 by the announcement that they were completing a new studio album. Released independently in September 2018, Sparrow marked Jump, Little Children's first new studio release in 13 years. ~ Timothy Monger & Jason Ankeny
- Winston-Salem, NC
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