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Christabel and the Jons bring vintage jazz to Salisbury this Friday

By Sarah Hall
shall@salisburypost.com
Christabel and the Jons prove the old saying “everything old is new again” with fresh songs wrapped in vintage packaging. The group glides easily between standards and originals as if the intervening four decades were just a dream, and their swinging and subtle jazz never went out of style.
Imagine a fantasy tale, where a sultry but sweet torch singer has a spell cast on her like sleeping beauty. She’s frozen in time, dressed in taffeta and lace. When she’s awakened after the turn of the century, she steps into modern times armed only with a leather valise, guitar and accordion.
That paints a picture of Christa DeCicco, standing out in the indie music scene both for her wardrobe, purchased in vintage clothing stores, and her talent. Lovely Christa is easy on the eyes and ears, her mellifluous voice supported by the accompanying “Jons” like Cleopatra aloft in her litter.
She has been making music since she was a child, but chose a temporary career path in landscape and garden design after earning a degree in horticulture from the University of Tennessee. Now her music career has taken over her life like kudzu in a flower bed. Gardening and travel don’t mix well, but she still tries to get back to the earth when possible.
She started out doing the singer-songwriter thing, then began working with drummer Jon Whitlock in 2005. They went from duo to quartet with a succession of musicians, several of them named Jon or John, hence the group’s name.
The current lineup includes DeCicco and Whitlock with the versatile Seth Hopper on violin trumpet and mandolin and a either Josh Sidman or Vince Ilagan taking turns on bass.
The band has thrived in Knoxville, which DeCicco says is very “supportive and noncompetitive.”
“There are a few divas” she adds, “but for the most part it’s very communal, and family-like, with everyone recording on each other’s records.”
When widespread touring had become too much of an ordeal, they tightened their travel area to Tennessee and its bordering states. But with increasing demand they are once again venturing out to more far-flung regions, promoting their album “Custom Made for You.”
The CD is an upbeat collection, smooth and jazzy and fun. There’s a gentle teasing tone to the title track and songs like “Closer to You,” More than Friends” and “Boy Crazy.” “Nothing is Wrong” and “The Good Life” are so full of optimism it spills over into the more sentimental numbers, not staying sad for long.
A song that stands out is “I Believe” a simple and heartfelt creed presented as tuneful advice.
Capping off the collection of vintage-sounding originals is the whimsical Monty Python classic “Galaxy Song” which fits right in.
DeCicco acknowledges that the “Custom Made” album comes across as particularly cheerful.
“We’ll make sure our next CD is full of despair and heartbreak,” she jokes.
nnn
Christabel and the Jons will be bringing their vintage style to Salisbury this Friday, performing at Looking Glass Artist Collective, 405 N. Lee St. in Railwalk during Downtown Salisbury’s Krazy Night Out.
The show starts at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $7 at the door.
For more information call 704-245-2302 or contact salisburyartists@gmail.com.

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