There is no denying that an artist is a reflection of their environment, and the harsh beauty of rural Manitoba is at the heart of Jess Reimer’s work.
Be it snowed-in, wool-wearing imagery or dirt under your nails, ‘sweating through the yellow silk’, the extremes and heartiness of Manitoba are in Jess’ songs. Listening to Reimer it is clear she is unwaveringly connected to the soul of traditional North American music. There are times when she sounds as if she’s on stage at the Grand Ole Opry circa 1963. Jess has been a part of Winnipeg, MB’s roots music scene for years, and with her latest album, The Nightjar and The Garden, she’s been embraced by a wider audience. “The Nightjar and the Garden traverses the road between the personal and the profound, the sacred and the profane”. It’s “a highly literary effort” says Zachary Houle – Pop Matters. She has released 3 other bluegrass/country records. Her original, ‘Knockin’ placed her a finalist in the International Songwriter’s Competition. And, literary magazine, Rhubarb, published it.
Besides performing, Jess has taught song writing in Elementary schools and plays for a cancer care program, ‘Music to my Ears’, to patients in a MB hospital.
Jeremy Hamm was born and raised in the Lincoln County, ON, Canada. His grandfather was a sideman for the popular bluegrass group, The Lincoln County Peach Pickers. Their best known hit, “Niagara Moon”, was heard from coast to coast weekly on CBC in the early 1950’s. Jer took classical violin lessons until at age 14, his Grandpa loaned him his 1951 Martin 0-18 guitar to learn the basics of what became his true love of music: bluegrass mandolin and Country. Shortly after an instrumental move to Winnipeg in the mid 90’s, Jer got into guitar building and repair and began playing with Jess. Now scads of Winnipeg musicians play Jer’s instruments. He’s a ‘musician’s luthier’ and can play almost anything.
Jess and Jer met in the fall of 2002. Jess left him a note asking him come to a rehearsal. Jer pulled up in his butter yellow 1980 Chev and there began a decade long bluegrass outfit which included Jess’ father, tenor vocalist and song writer, Doug Reimer and banjoist, Tim Osmond. There also began a marriage, a family and a business: a guitar building school. These days Jer and Jess live in their big, old brick house in La Riviere, MB with their free range kids. The intimacy of married life, the loving and ‘unloving’, seeps into their duo performances. Accomplished live performance schticks vary from full 6 piece country band to traditional bluegrass outfit to acoustic duo. Jer Hamm plays mandolin, fiddle, and guitar in all of these ensembles. He also builds and repairs their instruments! Together they have toured Canada from Halifax to Vancouver and the US from New York to Seattle.