In their latest song, “Foundations,” siblings and songwriters Ali and Tessa Wiercioch do something that they know well – they harmonize to tell stories of relationships, connection or the lack thereof and emotions that surface when you least expect them.
Ali and Tessa created their musical group, Jackamo, in 2019 to formalize a singing partnership that began when they were kids. According to Tessa, growing up in a musical family meant the entire crew sang together and performed at will. Now, they’ve simply formalized the partnership that has defined their lives to date.
They’re hoping that as the world opens up again and live musical performances start coming back that they can sing for a crowd again soon, bringing “Foundations” and some other songs they’ve been working on during quarantines and quiet times to life. The band plans to release singles throughout 2021 and record more of their original songs.
“We’re itching to get back into the studio,” Ali admitted.
That feeling comes in part because they had such a rich experience doing “Foundations” with friends and producers Sammy Boller and Steve Lehane. They, along with a larger group of musicians and creatives, helped them put together a collaboration of sorts that resulted in the layered sound of the song but also of their individual voices.
The Jackamo story starts with the name – it is a throwback to their grandparents, who often talked about a family friend who died in the Vietnam war. Ali and Tessa had tried to find this name on traveling Vietnam memorials only to find that the real spelling was vastly different than what they expected. But the original moniker stuck with them and it seemed like a fitting tribute to name their band after this personal memory.
Memories, family lore and music are recurrent themes in any conversation with the sisters. They grew up in a rural area of Michigan and their parents loved to sing and play music with them. Favorite performers included Neil Young and Lucinda Williams, influences you can hear in their music today.
As they grew up, they continued to perform but now through school and after-school activities. They were in choir, theater and dance at various times, and they even had a band together with friends at one point.
While the siblings had each gone their own way – Ali had been in New York and Tessa at Wayne State University at various times in their adult lives – they had a sense that singing would bring them back into the same space and location. For Jackamo, that means settling into their adopted hometown of Hamtramck, recording at Royal Oak’s Rustbelt Studios and performing around Metro Detroit when possible.
“It occurred to us that nothing else could keep our interest in the way that getting a song together did or writing together,” Tessa said.
With “Foundations,” their latest single, the duo hopes to not only keep their pipes trained but to find new fans, connect with longtime musical partners and bring comfort to people, regardless of where they live or what they’re doing.
The song’s lyrics speak to that pandemic moment that we’re collectively living in – a time when nothing seems like it’s changing and yet it is completely different than what we’ve known. Perhaps that is why the lyric of “I’m tried and I’m sore” resonates so deeply with listeners. It’s a feeling we’ve all likely experienced over the past 12 months.
More music is coming soon, the sisters promise, and they hope to grow as fast and as well as time and a pandemic allows.
“We’ve met so many great humans – so many incredible songwriters and musicians in the metro Detroit area and Michigan in general. It’s a great scene here,” Ali said. “There’s so many different genres but they all come together and support one another. … We’ve been writing a lot during the pandemic, which is strange and wild for us. We’re all trying to navigate through and we hope our music brings comfort to folks and help us all heal.”