Jump, Little Children was a band formed in 1991 in the city of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Known for their unique sound, energetic live performances, and willingness to interact with fans, the band built a strong following over their fourteen years together. They played their final show on December 30, 2005 in their adopted hometown of Charleston, South Carolina.
The name "Jump, Little Children" is taken from a song by blues musician Leroy Dallas - later covered by Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee.
Jay Clifford: vocals and rhythm guitar,
Matthew Bivins: vocals, accordion, harmonica, mandolin, melodica, and tin whistle,
Ward Williams: cello and guitar,
Jonathan Gray: double bass,
Evan Bivins: drums,
Christopher Pollen: guitar,
Tim Connell: tin whistle, mandolin, electric bass,
Michael Bellar (of The As-Is Ensemble): piano,
Amanda Kapousouz (of Tin Cup Prophette): violin,
Jay Clifford, Matthew Bivins, Ward Williams, and Christopher Pollen met and formed Jump, Little Children at the North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, NC in 1991. The band played their first show on January 1, 1992 as part of a New Year's Day festival in downtown Winston-Salem.
The group was performing Irish music at the time, and in the winter of 1992, Clifford, Bivins, and Pollen traveled to Ireland to learn their craft firsthand. Upon their return, Evan Bivins left the School of the Arts to join the band, and the quartet decided to move to Boston, MA. As they worked to finance the move, the band spent the summer of 1993 in Charleston, SC, where they met future member Jonathan Gray. After arriving in Boston in late 1993, Jump, Little Children recorded and released a self-titled cassette featuring original songs and traditional Irish works. Pollen then left the group to join a religious community, and Clifford and the Bivins brothers returned to Charleston in the summer of 1994.
Gray and Williams joined the lineup soon thereafter and the band was frequently found busking on the corner of Church and Market Streets in Charleston. Their Irish influences began to blend with an alternative rock sound, and the public took notice. They continued to gain local notoriety and received regional radio airplay for the song "Quiet." Jump, Little Children recorded and released The Licorice Tea Demos in early 1995, and toured the Southeast with vigor. Regular touring continued throughout 1996 and 1997, including the first of what would become a yearly tradition: New Year's shows at the Dock Street Theatre in Charleston.
Buzz, a live EP, was released in early 1997, and the band was courted by various record labels. The group eventually chose Breaking Records, a subsidiary of Atlantic Records started by Hootie and the Blowfish, in 1998. Jump, Little Children's first and only album released under Breaking Records, Magazine, was recorded during the summer of 1998 with producer Brad Jones. Magazine was released in the fall of 1998, and the single "Cathedrals" achieved radio play nationwide over the following year.
Looking to build on the success of the "Cathedrals" single, the band reentered the studio in the fall of 2000 to record Vertigo. Produced by Clifford and Brad Wood and mixed by David Leonard, the album was originally due to be released in May 2001, but was put on hold when Breaking Records was dropped from the Atlantic roster. The rights to Vertigo were given to Breaking, and after a fierce struggle, Jump, Little Children was able to release the album on their own imprint, EZ Chief Records, in September 2001. Vertigo reached No. 44 on the Billboard Top Independent Albums chart.
The band regrouped over 2002 and 2003, expanding their touring to include the Midwest and West Coast and recording and releasing a DVD titled Live At The Music Farm. They also expanded EZ Chief Records, launching a website where users could create custom CDs using tracks from independent artists. In the summer of 2003, the band took its first hiatus, but soon returned with an abbreviated name, "Jump," and plans for another album, Between The Dim & The Dark. Produced by Rick Beato and released on Brash Music in April 2004, the album was well received. Between The Glow & The Light, an EP of B-sides to Between The Dim & The Dark, was released in April 2005.
On June 16, 2005, the band announced that the 10th annual Dock Street Theatre shows at end of 2005 would mark their split. Their final show was a black tie affair in Charleston on December 30, 2005, and featured material from each of the members' future projects. The show ended with the band and audience of more than 500 people walking from the theatre to the corner of Church and Market Streets for a busking session typical of the band's early years. "Jump, Little Children" was the last song played.
Live at the Dock Street Theatre, a double live album, was released in 2006 and was the band's final recording. Members of Jump, Little Children would not completely rule out the possibility of recording more material or continuing their traditional Dock Street Theatre shows, but Evan Bivins was quoted as saying, "This is pretty much it. We've been saying 'never say never,' but for all intents and purposes, these are the last shows. We've been planning this since the end of last year." During the final show, Amanda Kapousouz announced the formation of a scholarship fund at the College of Charleston in honor of the band.
As more time passes since the band's dissolution, a reunion looks increasingly slim. While the bandmates remain close friends, they are separated by geography. Clifford and Gray remain in Charleston, Williams lives in Brooklyn, and the Bivins brothers reside in Chicago. Each one continues to play music and follow his own artistic pursuits. In an April 2010 interview, Clifford spoke on the topic of a reunion: "It's incredibly hard to predict. I actually thought that by now we might warm up to one a little bit more. I know it will happen at some point, and it should probably happen sooner than later. But at this point, everybody's real into what they're doing, so there's no drive to make it happen."
On May 5, 1999, the song "B-13" was featured in the Party of Five episode No. 116, "I'll Show You Mine." On May 19, 2003, the song "Cathedrals" was featured in Everwood episode No. 23, "Home." On December 6, 2007, the song "B-13" was featured during the narrative wrap of Scrubs episode No. 706, "My Number One Doctor."
On June 22, 2011, the song "Cathedrals" was used on So You Think You Can Dance (season 8, episode No. 7). Jazz dancer Clarice Ordaz and Broadway dancer Jess LeProtto performed a contemporary routine choreographed to the song by Stacey Tookey.
In addition, Jump, Little Children was one of three bands shown during True Music (HDNet) episode No. 218, "South by Southwest 2004."