Known for his guitar and banjo picking, often humorous lyrics, and witty stage banter, Crossland has carved a name for himself in the modern Americana scene with seven albums and several years on the road. I recently got a chance to catch up with him to talk tunes, home, and how he came into his own on stage.
Thomas hentges: In your earliest years, what musical realm did you find yourself in?
Jalan Crossland: I grew up listening to my uncle play old-time and bluegrass on the banjo. My mother and her hairy friends spun vinyl records of bands that would now fit under the Americana umbrella: The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Ozark Mountain Daredevils, and Taj Mahal.
TH: Over the years, you have forged a reputation as a troubadour, alongside being a dedicated rural resident. Have you ever called anywhere outside Ten Sleep, Wyoming home?
JC: Nope. I’ve lived in a lot of places for brief periods, but Ten Sleep has always been home. It wasn’t a conscious choice any more than a plant chooses the dirt it sprouts out of.
TH: When not traveling or playing music, what might we find Jalan Crossland up to?
JC: Nerdy things, mostly. I’ve been an avid, if mediocre, chess player since I was a kid. I read everything I can bring into focus. Dig sci-fi movies. Really, really good at playing [the game] Plants vs Zombies. Oh, I know a thing that’s not nerdy – I love riding motorcycles and looking tough and thuggish!
TH: Having seen you perform, I was not only taken by your songs and musicianship, but also by your honest, witty, and entertaining stage banter. Have you always felt at ease in communicating with your audience in a live setting?
JC: Absolutely not! I did fine as a sideman in bands, but as soon as I was the front man, requiring talking, I was petrified to the point of numbness. Years of doing it has made it better. I’ve learned what I’d imagine a lot of performers have, which is to separate your bold, witty, charismatic stage self from your tentative, dull, quiet-evening-at-home self. Both selves are real and necessary parts of a personality, but when I put on the hat and guitar, walk on stage, and the chicken heads start wringin’, and the toenails start flyin’, there’s no room for meekness or insecurity. You must control that scene, and you realize that that’s exactly what your audience wants you to do. They aren’t against you, cynically noting your every mistake … they want you to succeed. I still get nervous before going on, but it’s good nerves now, more enthusiastic anticipation.
TH: Your July 16 show at Miner Brewing Company has you returning to familiar territory. It seems the Black Hills community has really embraced you and your music over the years. Do you feel a connection with the area?
JC: I adore the Black Hills; the people, the music scene, the natural beauty, the bike rally, Gorgonzola Beer Cheese Soup at the Firehouse [Brewing Company], cigars at Tinder Box [Rapid City], oyster shots in Deadwood, Halley’s Store in Keystone, B-17 models at Who’s Hobby [House], walking through the drive-thru after a late night at Paddy O’Neill’s, listening to Steve Thorpe and James Van Nuys … I’ve been playing music in the Hills for a very long time. And the folks at the Miner Brewing Company have been so good to the band and me. They are great people with a cool venue, and we always look forward to playing music there.
Catch The Jalan Crossland Band live at Miner Brewing Company in Hill City July 15 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25 and are available at prairieberry.com.
Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit
The Mountain Goats
Washington Pavilion (Sioux Falls)
7:30 p.m. | $58-$80
The Hooten Hallers
Total Drag (Sioux Falls)
7 P.M. | All Ages | $10
The Jalan Crossland Band
Miner Brewing Co. (Hill City)
7 p.m. | adv. $25
Fernson on 8th (Sioux Falls)
8 p.m. | Free
The Coathangers Residuals
Total Drag (Sioux Falls)
7 p.m. | $15
What Thomas is listening to?
The Only One
Creedence Clearwater Revival
Forty Hour Week (For A Livin’)
Streets of Bakersfield
Small town Saturday Night