Karen Kozak - Violin, Viola, Vocals
Pat Forsyth - Guitar, Vocals
Nick Spielman - Electric Bass
Chuck Boeke - Mandolin, Vocals
Olivia Quintanilla - Cello
Useful Jenkins is a contemporary acoustic band with a bluegrass foundation. They use their grass-roots to readily tap into other genres such as folk, funk, rock, and hip hop. Their music generates emotion and sends a message to a wide range of listeners, giving them an eclectic group of followers from all walks of life. Useful Jenkins thrives on energy; they flourish in the moment and have an unmatched resonance with the crowd. The band is made up of an acoustic guitar, mandolin, violin, cello, and electric bass. 3-part vocal harmonies accompany the wall of stringed instruments, leaving listeners with a strong, clean, and unique sound.
Formed as a 5 piece band in 2007, Useful Jenkins remained under-the-radar during their first few years performing. Open mics and campfire jams were their source of inspiration, which allowed them to form a strong and intimate bond between band members and fans alike. As their message grew, so did the network of friends who supported their direction. In February of 2009, the band released their first full-length album “Fast Eddie” which was the catalyst for their initial and continued success in the Midwest Festival Scene. Their second album, “Festival Express,” was released in September of 2012. It provided a more dynamic sound by capturing the raw bluegrass elements from the first album, and combining them with bowed string and brass instrumentation. In April of 2015 Useful Jenkins released their third full-length album, “Forward Motion,” which was a statement of how the band continues to move and grow.
"Some nights at First Avenue simply stand out from the rest; yesterday’s Useful Jenkins show certainly did... What really stood out for me was the overall vibe of the show. I have rarely seen fans showing such a wide range of styles, fashions and ages at one show clearly there to have a good time.."
- Markus Akre, twincitiesmedia.net
- Main stage @ Yonder Mountain’s Harvest Fest in Ozark, AR (2013)
- Sold out show @ The Cabooze in Minneapolis, MN with Wookiefoot (2013)
- 750+ tickets headlining The Cabooze (2014)
- 1250+ tickets co-headlining First Avenue Main Room with Horseshoes and Hand Grenades, double album release party (2015)
- Multiple headlining performances with Allie Kral of YMSB (2014 - 2016)
- 3 full-length albums spanning almost a decade of live performances (2009, 2012, 2015)
- Staple at Harmony Park Music Garden in Geneva, MN. Average crowd attendance between 1,500 and 2,000 during Revival and Shangri-La performances (2012 - 2016)
HARMONY PARK PHOTO HIGHLIGHTS
Forward Motion, April 2015
“Forward Motion” is exactly that… a statement of movement and growth. Like everything in transformation, Useful Jenkins continued to modify their sound by changing the fifth member from cello to violin. Vocal harmonies drastically improved, while the long, warm bow tones shifted to brighter, more playful phrasing. The introduction of counter melodies challenged the bands musicality and resulted in more intricate song structure. The overall production quality on “Forward Motion” is also, without question, the highest in comparison to the previous two albums.
Today Useful Jenkins is a traveling six piece. In July, 2015 the band reincorporated the cello but kept it in addition to the violin. The long, warm tones of the cello are able to coexist with the melodic counter tones of the violin, blending the strongest attributes displayed on both “Festival Express” and “Forward Motion.” Once they discovered how complimentary the guitar-cello and mandolin-violin relationships were, they used it to their advantage and haven’t looked back since. Useful Jenkins is currently working on their fourth full length album.
Festival Express, September 2012
“Festival Express” marks the recorded introduction of bowed instruments to Useful Jenkins. At this time the fifth member was a cellist, and a small brass section was added to accentuate certain tracks. These additions allowed the band to grow dynamically and hone their sound. Many of the songs on “Festival Express” have become staples for the band and strike home for listeners. There was a sense of discovery in the air, and it shines through in the album.
Fast Eddie, February 2009
“Fast Eddie” is a perfect glimpse into the roots of Useful Jenkins. There’s a heavy bluegrass influence that’s a bit rough around the edges. While the instrumentation has changed a bit since 2009, the songs are catchy and the message is strong. “Fast Eddie” acted as the catalyst needed to push the band into the midwest festival scene, where they continue to flourish today.