Twelve years ago, three men gathered around a fire in Jalan Crossland’s backyard in Ten Sleep and picked out tunes late into the night.
The backyard jam was the serendipitous result of a simple problem — all the men were playing in the annual Nowoodstock Festival and lodging was sparse. They didn’t know it at the time, but that night would eventually solidify Crossland, bassist Shaun Kelley and drummer Pat Madsen into one of Wyoming’s most well-known local bands.
Since that night on Crossland’s back porch, the three have performed around the country and recorded six albums over the past 12 years as the Jalan Crossland Band. The trio is calling it quits at the end of the month as Madsen plans to move across the country and Kelley has had health problems with Parkinson’s disease. The band’s two final shows are Friday in Laramie and Sept. 22 in Lander.
The three are grateful for the support and fun over the years, Crossland said. He’ll continue to perform solo, but said it will be a long time before he even thinks about putting together another group.
“I’ll miss them for sure,” he said.
Crossland started his music career as a hired guitar player touring with various bands. But he wearied of band infighting and traveling with people he didn’t know. So he learned Travis picking on his guitar, a technique “where you play the bass lines and melodies at the same time, so I wouldn’t need a band,” Crossland said.
As a solo artist he took second in the National Fingerstyle Guitar Championship in 1997 and won the Wyoming State Flatpick Championship in 1999.
But after several years of solo work, Crossland missed being part of a band. Then Laramie musicians Kelley and Madsen showed up in his backyard.
“I enjoy the camaraderie of it, because the three of us have always gotten along real well,” Crossland said. “And I like the power and energy of having a band. You make the crowd jump up and down and whoop it up and party. You can put out a lot more energy with an ensemble than you can solo, and just the larger sonic palate for writing and recording songs.”
Kelley grew up in Georgia, played his first paid gig in 1973 and moved to Wyoming in 1991, where he earned his master’s degree in music. He was performing with a band called Tom’s Swollen Pancreas when he connected with Crossland and Madsen. They played a house show together and eventually started working on their first album as the Jalan Crossland Band, “Trailer Park Fire & Other Tragedies,” which was released in 2007. The Jalan Crossland Band has been his main musical focus for the past 12 years.
“He’s a really good journeyman songwriter,” Kelley said of Crossland. “Through the 45 years or whatever that I’ve been playing in bands, usually when a band breaks up there’s at least a little snippy, you know, animosity. There’s none of that in this band. It’s really an honor to work for them. It’s a good work environment for creating original material and just being around them, and that includes our crew.”
Crossland said music will continue to be part of the band members’ lives.
“We’re all musicians at the core,” he said. “So what else are you going to do?”
Kelley’s plans include writing music and a project to gather Laramie band musicians into various ensembles and record music on analog tape in the studio, he said.
Crossland plans to keep playing solo, which has accounted for about half of his performances even when he was in the band, he said. After gigging season slows down this fall, he hopes to spend the winter living in a van surrounded by Arizona desert landscapes.
“I just want to drift around, do some hiking,” he said. “Mostly clear my mind out for the purpose of doing some writing.”
“I call it stocking the pond. If you’re going to fish for some new ideas, you’ve got to go out and do s—- in the world — do other things to get experiences, so you have new things write about.”