A Family affair that started in Doncaster

The Jar Family
The Jar Family
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The Jar Family have a loyal fan base.

In fact, so loyal is the Jar Family’s fan base that it’s been the subject of a documentary.

Guitarist/frontman Lee Darley says “I think our fans like the fact that all five of us sing and write songs. And because of that there are five different genres within our music.”

The band grew organically, starting with impromptu gigs using only a ‘cajon’ wooden box for percussion while singing a capella with an acoustic guitar.

Over the years the band has accrued more members and electricity.

“We used instruments like shakers but more recently we went electric and started singing what became dubbed ‘industrial folk’.”

And the Jar Family’s unique, strange take on folk music all started in Doncaster.

“We were playing at a folk festival there and the stuff we were playing was jumpy and electronic. That’s where it started.”

The Jar Family’s fans range from kids to pensioners. “It’s amazing, I was dropping my bairn off at school the other day there and there was a kid with a Jar Family hoody on.”

And while the band’s five-dimensional songwriting may sound like a recipe for democratic disaster, Darley says it works well.

“There are no big egos in our band.

“We each bring our own stuff to the table and then we record it and produce it ourselves as well.

“We are a self-sufficient machine.”

In spite of the Jar Family’s ability to get songs down on paper, it’s performing live where the band really shines.

“We are so much better live than on record. We need to find a way of capturing our live shows on recordings as that’s when we’re in our element.

“You can listen to our recordings all day long but it doesn’t quite convey how good we are on stage.”

Part of the band’s live appeal is their dress.

“We all dress differently. I like to dress a bit Dickensian, I came across ‘Steam Punk’ which is like a Victorian science-fiction look where gadgets are mixed with top hats.

“I became enthralled with that weird Victorian science-fiction look but that’s just me - other members of the band dress totally differently.

“But we all dress up and on stage and it looks really good - like we’re real gentlemen.

““And it’s all part of making a show of it all.”

That is, after all, what they do best.

“It’s unbelievable how many people come to our shows. When we play at home - in the northeast - we sell out all the time.

“We have lots of support from the local radio and that has helped a lot. It’s amazing really and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

The Jar Family will play next Thursday, June 19, at Exile Festival in Matlock.