It took a dog with amazing chops to inspire the Bumper Jacksons. The septet will get their paws on the Schwartz Center for the Arts Friday.

It took a dog with amazing chops to inspire the Bumper Jacksons. The septet will get their paws on the Schwartz Center for the Arts Friday. 

Straight out of Washington, the Bumpers are an eclectic outfit that’s hard to categorize. But for simplicity’s sake, you can think of them as American roots with street jazz and country blues that erupts like an old-time barn dance.

The crew will bring their new album, “I’ve Never Met a Stranger,” to the Schwartz. The album officially releases May 6.

Back in 2010, the Bumper Jacksons were founded by vocalists and multi-instrumentalists Chris Ousley and Jess Elliot Myhre.

Ousley shed light on the band’s peculiar name, the theme of their new album and the complications of dating a bandmate.

Where does the band’s name come from?

It comes from a story. Basically, Jess and I had just met and were traveling around as a duo, not even a proper band yet. We would couch surf with folks and try to find wherever the music was. We were in Louisiana and staying with the Jackson family. They had an in-law suite in the back and a big black lab named Bumper. Bumper would come to the in-law suite where we were staying and howl along to Jess’ clarinet as we were practicing all the tunes we had learned in town. Seeing as how he was the best singer of the three, he was obviously the band leader.

Since you and Jess are in a relationship, how do you still make the band work when personal problems arise?

We’re adults and we communicate effectively. We talk about our feelings before they become really big problems. We did almost break up at one point, but we just needed a little break. But that’s just an artist thing. Money’s hard and that’s a big stressor on a relationship. The romance started off as a friendship. We made music together for like a year before we started dating. I think that really helped.

What is the theme of the new album?

The whole idea of “I’ve Never Met A Stranger” and the title song is about this community of folks: I guess you would call it a picker’s festival or some people call them fiddlers’ conventions. But what these events are is people just gathering on a campground and there might not be anybody on stage or no stage at all. People get together and they play old music for 10 days straight. It’s neat because I was at one of our favorite ones at Clifftop, W. Va. They’re all named after the towns they’re in.

One of the most telling stories I like to tell is I played in a jam from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. in the morning with an 80-year-old man from Japan on fiddle, a college kid with big ‘ole curly blond hair on fiddle, this steampunk kid with tattoo sleeves on banjo, a Mexican guy on guitar and I was playing bass. We had language barriers and age differences, but all of us kind of knew the tunes. We knew the history. We loved it. We listen to old-time music all the time.

And we hung out and passed the bottle, and we made best friends. I have friends that I only ever see at that festival. I also have friends that I only ever see at that festival and I’ve seen them for like seven years straight and I don’t know their name. So there’s this wonderful sense of community, yet anonymity.