Jump circa 1996 (L to R): Jay Clifford, Jonathan Gray, Ward Williams, Evan Bivins, and Matt Bivins — they play "Farewell" at the Dock Street Theatre this week
Wed. Dec. 28 / Thurs. Dec. 29 / Fri. Dec. 30
8 p.m. (3 p.m. matinee on Fri. Dec. 30)
Dock Street Theatre
135 Church Street
"This is pretty much it," says Evan Bivins, drummer with Charleston's eclectic-pop group Jump. "We've been saying 'never say never,' but for all intents and purposes, these are the last shows. We've been planning this since the end of last year."
The band celebrates a long career in music and officially say "farewell" to the scene with performances this week during their 10th annual Dock Street Theatre event — a grand finale to a tumultuous time in which the band survived more than a few music industry trials and challenges.
"A lot of fans ask us if we're sad about the final shows," says Bivins, 31. "I tell them I would be sad if I wasn't so excited about the future for all of us. The one thing we've really struggled toward with this band over the years is to always do things on our own terms ... to play the really weird, super-eclectic songs that we play. We never made any apologies for that. We also wanted to end this when we're ready. Certainly, the industry is exhausting and you get tired of playing the rock 'n' roll lottery after 12 years."
Jump initially came together at the North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, where founding members guitarist Jay Clifford, cellist-guitarist Ward Williams, multi-instrumentalist Matt Bivins, and drummer Evan Bivins studied classical and world music. They began not with the intentions of "playing the rock 'n' roll lottery," but putting their own spin on traditional Irish folk music, drawing influences from blues and pop as well.
In 1994, they relocated to Charleston, enlisted upright bassist Jonathan Gray, and promptly released two independently-produced albums, The Licorice Tea Demos and the live Buzz EP. By 1996, the quintet had established itself as one of the South's most popular live rock acts, with an emotionally complex and densely textured sound laden with strings, electric and acoustic guitars, and accordion.
In 1999, the band released a guitar-heavy album titled Magazine on the Breaking/Atlantic label partnership. By 2001, however, Jump found themselves entangled in label red tape just as the new studio album Vertigo was about hit the streets. Atlantic dropped Breaking Records and the release went into limbo. The group eventually gained control of the album and released it on their own imprint, EZ Chief Records.
"Putting out records independently is very expensive and extremely difficult," says the drummer. "By the end of that year, we were in terrible financial shape. It was like, 'here we go' all over again."
Touring and recording through most of '02 and '03, Jump released their last full-length, Between the Dim and the Dark, in the spring of '04. The collection was a quiet, misty, more acoustic-based effort than the previous discs. By the beginning of this year, the band began contemplating a conclusion to their career.
"We were tired and thinking maybe the spring [of '05] would be it," remembers Bivins. "It went great and the fall tour was a total rock tour. We all set out to just enjoy every last minute of this and to not interject any kind of drama or melancholy that comes with the end of something. I knew I had to focus on really enjoying these last moments together with these guys.
"Honestly, I feel like we've said everything we've wanted to say creatively between the five of us," he adds. "We think we've put out some really good records and we're proud of that. I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to end this how we wanted to, because there were many times when we could have thrown in the towel ... or were almost forced to throw in the towel. We just refused to give up."