As you are probably well aware by now, I really love discovering new and great music here in our own fair state of Maine. Such is the case with this week’s group Sassquatch. I had never heard of them before, so when I saw that this band was going to play Jan. 26 at Madison’s Somerset Abbey, I immediately got a name and number for the group and found myself chatting with Jared Wilkinson from his Augusta home last month. Seeing this was a decidedly new musical entity to me, I began with a standard question.

Q: Could you give me a thumbnail of Sassquatch?

Wilkinson: Well, let’s see. Sassquatch is a fusion of a lot of different things. Sassquatch met at the University of Maine in Augusta where we all study music — Jazz and Contemporary Music programs — and we all became friends in 2012-2013. In 2014 we formed the band when we were introduced to the band Snarky Puppy. They put out a video with Lalah Hathaway where they did her song “Something.” I won a Grammy, but when we heard it we all wanted to put together a big band that did a lot of different styles of music. We were all going to graduate and that was going to be our project after we left — we were going to take what we’ve learned and kind of go on from there.

Q: Individually, in what are your musical roots lodged?

Wilkinson: We have all come from different backgrounds and different styles of music that we grew up playing or learned about in school, shared and kind of cross-pollinated and then turned into this band. We said, “We’re going to do anything we want with this — we’re going to have straight-forward funky tunes, we’re going to do some jazz fusion stuff, we’ve got a half-country murder ballad. It’s all in Sassquatch. I like to think of us as the missing link between funk, fusion, jazz, rock and pop, and that’s why we call ourselves that.

Q: How many are in your band?

Wilkinson: There’s me, Jared Wilkinson, and Christine Knight, whose the lead singer, one of the guitar players is her husband, Matt Knight. The other guitar player is Bryant Sirois. And then there’s Dan Gilbert on bass and Cameron Lopez on drums.

Q: And what do you play?

Wilkinson: Well, everybody in this group is kind of a multi-instrumentalist. I write a bunch, I play guitar — I’m the third guitar — I play alto sax, I’ll do keyboard when necessary and I’m kind of second lead singer, but I’d prefer to be the back-up singer to Christine because she’s got much better vocals than me.

Q: How much of the material do you perform is original and how much is covers — or do you even do cover songs?

Wilkinson: We do, it depends on the gig and the venue. I’d say generally it’s 80/20 — maybe 70/30 — unless it’s specifically a show that they are just looking for covers or it’s a gig where they’re looking for originals. We have enough covers in our repertoire to do a full gig, and we have more than enough originals to do ours.

Q: Now one has to ask: Do you have anything out as far as CDs and like that goes?

Wilkinson: Yeah, we do. There was an EP that we recorded that’s no longer available, and out main album, that we recorded at Bangor Main Street Studios, is called — and it’s another weird name — “Cryptomusicology.” That you can get at Bull Moose, you can get it from us at our shows and it’s available digitally on our Bandcamp page.

Q: Are you the principle songwriter or do the others contribute?

Wilkinson: Everybody contributes, I happen to write a lot, so we end up doing a lot of my songs, but everybody in the group has contributed at least two or three songs apiece.

Q: Just out of curiosity, how far afield do you get touring?

Wilkinson: I think the farthest that we have gone is New York — twice in the last year — and we’ll do Vermont pretty periodically. We’ve played Boston and somewhere in New Hampshire. Portsmouth, I think.

Q: But the majority of your gigging is here in Maine?

Wilkinson: Yeah, we play every month in Portland at Blue, and we’ll play various shows around there.

Q: Seeing you’re coming into Madison’s Somerset Abbey, have you ever performed there before?

Wilkinson: Not officially with this group, though some of us did as part of a clinic for one of the school systems in Madison which was held at Somerset Abbey. So, I’ve seen the venue, it’s got a really great grand organ that I’m trying to avoid putting into the set, but it’s really great and they did give us the opportunity to play it. The room sounds amazing — it’s really, really cool. It’s beautiful and it was obviously built for great acoustics.

Q: I just had a thought. What does Sassquatch want, musically speaking?

Wilkinson: We want to make something that’s really interesting and complex that utilizes what we’ve learned in college and beyond, but we want people to be able to be there and not be alienated by it — to sort of get it and be able to enjoy it without having to have two degrees or have to pretend they know what’s happening.

Q: Is there anything, Jared, that you’d like to get across to the folks reading this article?

Wilkinson: Umm, I think that if you can make it to Somerset Abbey that you’re going to find a really interesting show of music that I really think anybody can enjoy. Nobody is going to walk away thinking, “Oh, I’ve heard all that before!,” but this band is the ultimate labor of love and the ultimate project in that it’s what musicians like us have gotten together to do whatever we want to do. Somehow, it has been surprisingly accepted, so if you want to know what that looks like: it’s a lot of fun and you should give it a try… l ike we say, “Get Sassy!”

Lucky Clark has spent a half-century writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

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