The folk music group the Jackstraws was founded in 1979 by classical musician Jeff Pekarek (aka Jeff Basile) and David C. Kendall. In the mid-’70s, Pekarek was the youngest member of the San Diego Symphony when he joined the contrabass section at age 17. He performed with the orchestra from 1975-1979, and during the summer pops concerts he backed up such luminaries as Benny Goodman, Sara Vaughn, and Sergio Mendez.
According to Kendall, "The most fundamental fact about the existence of the band, including the name, is that Jeff Pekarek and I were profoundly influenced by folk music from the British Isles, most notably Steeleye Span, Pentangle, and Fairport Convention. Our first actual gig away from Balboa Park, where we performed every Sunday for a stretch, was a Renaissance Faire at Grossmont College, as most of our material consisted of British folk songs. Happily, a lot of our material fit into the maritime music category, and many years later led to our association with Joe Ditler at the Star of India, where he and I planned the first Sea Chantey Festivals that continue to this day."
The Jackstraws combine theater and folk music, with colorful (and culturally accurate) costumes. Themes range from Irish and English folk music, Bush Band, and Renaissance music to pirate ditties and nautical songs of yachtsmen.
The group regularly plays Sea World, the San Diego Zoo, Horton Plaza events, and at Seaport Village. Tom Cunningham (of Lighthouse and Grassology) is the band’s fiddler, but he’s also known as a virtuoso on guitar and mandolin.
As of 2012, David C. Kendall lives in Paris and is producing his own original music.