Photo courtesy of Methow Arts
The House Jacks use just their voices to create a full range of sounds, including drumbeats, guitar riffs and woodwind solos.

By Marcy Stamper

It’ll be a different kind of barn-raising when the pioneering vocal group the House Jacks come to the Winthrop Barn on Saturday (Feb. 11).

When people hear the House Jacks, they hear hard-driving drumbeats, mind-bending guitar riffs and virtuosic woodwind solos – or, at least, that’s what they think they’re hearing.

But the five members of the House Jacks use just their voices to create this astonishing soundscape (with a little back-up from their mouths and bodies). They mix exquisite harmonies and infectious rhythms to dish up everything from tender ballads to funk, pop classics and soulful originals.

Their unusual name comes from a device that’s used for moving, leveling or lifting a house. Anyone who’s seen the House Jacks perform will tell you that the name is appropriate, since the group can rock the rafters and raise the roof.

The House Jacks have been featured in the opening music video for ESPN’s Monday Night Football and on the soundtrack of the movie Pitch Perfect.

They’ve also played a key, behind-the-scenes role for NBC’s “The Sing-Off,” helping vocal talents get their start on the a cappella competition.

Founded in 1991, the House Jacks have become an institution in contemporary a cappella, launching the careers of many superstars. Reviewers have described their talents as “vocal gymnastics” and praised their “astonishingly precise vocal drumming.”

From their roots in the Bay Area, the House Jacks have performed around the world, from Carnegie Hall in New York to the House of Blues in Chicago, and in France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Japan, China and Hong Kong. They have won six recording awards for contemporary a cappella.

As part of Methow Arts’ educational arts series, the House Jacks performed for all students in the Methow Valley School District on Tuesday (Feb. 7) and made the rounds of five other schools across Okanogan County throughout the week.

The singers also taught kids the art of beatboxing (using their mouth to make percussion sounds) and explained how they combine melody, harmony and percussion for their songs.

The House Jacks show on Saturday is at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25 for reserved seats in the first five rows (must be purchased online). Adult tickets are $15 in advance and $18 at the door. Tickets for ages 5–17 are $6 (available at the door only).

Tickets are available at Methow Arts in Twisp, Riverside Printing in Winthrop and online at www.brownpapertickets.com.

There will be drinks available for purchase. Doors open at 6:15 p.m.