A glass half-full: The Glass Jars hit Anniston with new album, new name
by Erin Williams
Special to The Star
Feb 09, 2014 | 4946 views |  0 comments | 61 61 recommendations | email to a friend | print
From left, Glass Jars members Jeremy Tidmore, Shawna Ross, Matthew Herbert and Mollie McFarland will perform in Anniston next weekend. Submitted photo
From left, Glass Jars members Jeremy Tidmore, Shawna Ross, Matthew Herbert and Mollie McFarland will perform in Anniston next weekend. Submitted photo
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When a band decides to change things up, it may swap the bass for an electric guitar or perform a new song at the next show. Sometimes it’s something more complex — like a cease and desist letter.

That was the case for the Glass Jars, a group that was forced to change its name after a band in Louisiana trademarked the name Loup-Garoux. The Birmingham-based band had been using since its incarnation just two years ago, but the new name is fitting, says guitarist and lead singer Shawna Ross.

“The glass jar is a symbol that I use a lot in songwriting — whenever our songs (mention) glass jars, it’s sort of metaphorical, representing a person’s ego and the fragility of it,” said Ross, who also does the bulk of the songwriting. “It is a name that when people read it and they go to our shows not knowing much about how we sound, they’re not gonna be surprised that we play the kind of music we play.”

With a debut album coming out and a tour schedule that takes them from Birmingham to Fort Walton Beach — as well as Anniston on Saturday — the Glass Jars will have plenty of opportunity to open its metaphorical lid and get its new name out. The group’s bluesy tone also has touches of rock, twang and smooth classical, as presented by percussionist Matt Herbert, bassist Jeremy Tidmore and violist Mollie McFarland, the newest addition after original member Albi Hille left in May to return to his home country of Germany.

“A lot of our songs that are on the album have signature riffs that were … written by Albi,” said Herbert of the alto saxophonist, who had played in reggae and jazz bands in Germany.

The result is an album that blends new and old influences from the group’s past.

“Some of the songs I wasn’t even a part of writing — some of them have been around for a couple of years, and some of them we kind of wrote as we were in the studio,” said McFarland. “You kind of see how we are changing when you listen to it.”

Add in Ross’ unique and proudly unpredictable lyrics, and you get a sound that can’t be held to one box — or jar. Songs like “Bluebird,” about breaking out and being free, and “PRT” lay heavy on the percussion, while others like “Dirty” and “Zip Codes” are more melancholy, emotional and vocal.

Ross describes her songwriting as “very autobiographical” and cathartic. “What I write about is almost always really, really personal, and I don’t want to be exposed, so I generally choose certain metaphors that represent what I’m trying to say without anyone really knowing what I’m trying to say.”

Tidmore, who is a computer programmer by day, says it’s about striving to keep both the listener and themselves entertained.

“We take a lot of time to develop each little individual part,” he said. “So even where we’ve got something that goes verse-chorus-verse, the second verse will be similar to the first one, but it will be different enough to keep the listener’s attention so they won’t be bored.”

Tidmore and Ross, who have been in a relationship for the past five years, both find performing to be the ultimate stress reliever.

“There’s been times when we’ve been at each other’s throats before a show, but I don’t know of a time where even when we were at our worst before a performance where we weren’t happy afterwards,” said Tidmore.

Ross agreed: “In other words, when we play music together, none of the crap that we have in our personal lives is involved at all. The music just replaces it.”

IF YOU GO...
What: The Glass Jars and The Gypsy Begonias performing live
When: Saturday, 7-10:30 p.m.
Where: Cheaha Brewing Company, 1208 Walnut Ave. in downtown Anniston
Cost: Free
Info: 256-770-7300
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