Members: John Yohe, lead vocals; Craig Hartsock, guitar; Isaac Hartsock, guitar; Jimmy Settle, bass; Joe Hinkle, percussion
Who we talked to: Yohe, 45
How did you guys meet/how long have you been performing together? We started out . . . in June 2008. We got together through a mutual friend. Joe (Hinkle), Craig Hartsock and his son, Isaac, were putting this little thing together, and they were looking for a singer. I came in to kind of help them out until they found somebody. The next thing you know, we were on our way. (We) were kind of working out of a garage . . . with a friend of ours, the original bass player. He moved on, and we brought in . . . Jimmy Settle. That kind of solidified things.
Where do you guys play? Right now, most of our stuff is concentrated into the York area. We . . . play Fakey's in Wrightsville (and) Brenns Pub. We just played the Tourist Inn . . . for the battle of the bands. We won. (It) was a big win for us. To be able to take the battle of the bands and get a second headlining gig was really good.
Who were you up against? It basically came down to us and Black Crack Ash. They really brought a big crowd. We were actually surprised that we won, just by sheer numbers.
Describe your sound or style. Most of us besides Isaac, who is 16, (are influenced by) the '80s bands. We love the hard-rock '80s bands. We love to cover Cinderella. We do some Poison, Kix (and) Judas Priest. But we also like some of the newer bands as well (including) Seether, Godsmack (and) Nickelback. We do Southern (including) Lynyrd Skynyrd (and) The Eagles. We have a pretty eclectic mix and all of us being a little older . . . we bring a lot of different styles with us. That's why we've been able to grow as quickly as we have.
How did you come up with the name? We were sitting around late at night, and we were shooting names back and forth. So many are so cliché. The only thing we were . . . worried about was being tied too closely to classic and southern rock. We also do the heavy metal acts as well. That name . . . is very slick. There are not a whole lot of bands that seem to have it in our area or even close to our area. As a band . . . we make all decisions as a five-piece.
What is your biggest challenge? The only that we found is that it's just harder to break into some areas. We found that our best area to concentrate on is York. It seems to have the most places to play for live music. We have been working our way into the Lancaster area. We have a huge gig coming up at the Clipper Magazine Stadium where the Lancaster Barnstormers play. That's a pretty big gig for a cover band to go out and entertain (for) an hour-and-a-half slot. You have to promote yourself, and that's what I think is our biggest strength. We work very hard on MySpace and Facebook to promote and reach out to the club owners. We do a lot of contests when we play. At the Tourist Inn . . . we're sponsoring our own tattoo contest where our wives would be judging that. We take band money and buy gift certificates and give them our to the winners. It helps promote local business . . . and creates crowd interest. We find that if the fans feel like they're part of the show, they love to come back.
So Isaac might be moving on. Are you looking for a new guitarist? Isaac, who is 16 . . . creates a little bit of a challenge getting into the clubs. He also wants to be a kid and move forward and play original music as well. We love him to death. He's welcome on our stage at any time in the future. We guarantee that he is a founding member and will always be recognized as that. We're bringing in a guy . . . who is going to be coming in and taking over on bass, and our bassist Jimmy Settle will be making the switch to guitar. We'd like to be up and running . . . by the middle of June.
Like any other local bands? We have a great rapport with other musicians. The band Hindsight (is) another band I would definitely recommend checking out. Great group of guys, awesome sound. They helped us out when we were first starting out. One of thing we pride ourselves on is our professionalism that we bring to the table. (We try to) always be gracious . . . and always be thankful for the people who come to see you and for the guys (who) gave you the help when you were first starting out.
- ERIN McCRACKEN, FLIPSIDE STAFF
If you go
Blackjack performs at 9 p.m. May 22 at the Wheelie Bar & Grill, 1033 N. George St., North York. Admission is $3. The band will host a sexy biker chick contest complete with prizes during the concert. For details, visit www.myspace.com/thewheeliebarvenue.
On the Web
For details about Blackjack, visit www.myspace.com/blackjackrockspa.
Listen to the interview at www.flipsidepa.com.
Read more meet-the-artist interviews at www.flipsidepa.com/musicdirectory.