They’re a rock band at their core, but there’s always been a certain elegance in the music of Charleston’s Jump, Little Children. During their initial run as a band from 1991-2005, JLC relied just as much on acoustic guitars and Ward Williams’ understated cello playing as they did on loud electric six-strings and catchy choruses.
In fact, the band often showcased their unplugged side back in the day, putting on an annual all-acoustic holiday show in Charleston, even adding a string quartet in later versions of the show. That’s a tradition that Jump, Little Children are returning to with their performance at The Spinning Jenny on Friday, bringing The New Oblivion Quartet onstage with them.
But this isn’t a nostalgia trip, even if the band will be playing plenty of songs from their back catalog. The show will feature material from their reunion album, Sparrow, which is an exciting prospect for cellist/guitarist Ward Williams.
“The production on our albums was very rich, and sometimes it would get a little lost in a ‘rock show’ kind of venue,” he says. “That’s not a criticism of rock shows because we really love doing those, but this sort of showcases another side of us. It’s a little more of the chamber-pop music side if you will.”
To that end, JLC’s singer/guitarist Jay Clifford revisited some of the songs on Sparrow to make them more string-quartet friendly.
“There are several songs on the album that have strings, so we’ll obviously do the recorded arrangements on those,” Williams says, “but Jay has actually orchestrated the songs that don’t have strings on them from Sparrow.”
It’s been an interesting few years for the band, which now features original members Clifford, Williams, and multi-instrumentalist Matthew Bivins along with bassist Jonathan Gray and drummer Evan Bivins.
They reunited after a decade-long hiatus in 2015 to play some shows, but eventually they decided that reliving their glory days as one of South Carolina’s most popular bands wasn’t enough.
“We wanted to do more, because we realized that if we kept doing the same old set lists for the reunion shows, it was nothing people hadn’t seen before,” Williams says. “It was a nostalgia trip, and that wouldn’t be conducive to us doing it more.”
But after ten years of pursuing their own projects, the band was understandably nervous about recording again.
“When we got to Nashville to make the record, Matt and I met at a taco place and asked each other, ‘How you feeling?’” Williams says with a laugh. “And we were both really nervous. We hadn’t made a record in 14 years; it’s easy to lose confidence in your abilities when you haven’t done it in a while.”
JLC was also recording songs they’d never played live before for Sparrow, something that they’d never tried when they were a full-time band.
“We’d never performed the songs when we started recording them,” Williams says, “so it was nerve-racking. But much like when we did the first reunion tour, the muscle memory came back, and I feel like it’s our best and most magical record, because it was such a surprise that it went so well. There was a lot of discovery in the studio. In the past, there wasn’t as much room for experimenting and discovery. This time, we all came in with a blank slate and we found this album together.”
Despite that positive experience, Williams says the band isn’t quite ready to commit to a full-time schedule like the old days.
“The bottom line is that we still enjoy playing together and hanging out together,” he says. “We don’t necessarily consider it a full-time career, but the fact that we can still do it is really gratifying.”
What: Jump, Little Children, w/ The New Oblivion Quartet
Where: The Spinning Jenny, 107 Cannon St., Greer
When: Friday, Dec. 21st, 8 p.m.
Tickets: $27.50 adv., $30 door
Info: 864-469-6416, https://www.thespinningjennygreer.com/