Lucid Culture


Album of the Day 8/3/10

Every day, we count down the best albums of all time all the way to #1. Tuesday’s album is #910:

Jenifer Jackson – The Outskirts of a Giant Town

Quietly and methodically, Austin songwriter Jenifer Jackson has built an eclectic and pantheonic catalog of songs. She started out as a teenager in Boston playing loud guitar rock, moved to New York and released the classic 1999 album Slowly Bright, a masterpiece of bossa nova tinged, Beatlesque psychedelia. Birds, in 2001 followed, stark and Americana-inflected, followed by a prized limited edition album of Brazilian and latin covers, the psychedelic pop of 2004’s So High and then her greatest one so far, The Outskirts of a Giant Town (reviewed here in 2007). Jackson’s gentle yet worldly, wounded voice, her gemlike lyrics and an even broader mix of styles take centerstage here: the wrenching Beatlesque ballad Saturday, the jaunty tropicalia of Suddenly Unexpectedly, the Philly-style soul of I Want to Start Something, the bitter noir Americana of Dreamland and the shapeshifting garage rock of For You. And from the look of  the material she’s been working up live over the past year, the follow-up to this one promises to be every bit as diverse and enchanting.

August 3, 2010 Posted by | lists, Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Relatively Rare Brazilian Music from Orquestra Contemporânea de Olinda

You’ve done this before. You log on, go to your music, or your itunes, or your limewire and ask yourself, “When on earth did I download this and why?” And ever notice, if you trust your instincts, that the mystery tunes turn out to be really good? A little digging through the email box revealed that this band actually came to us via a publicist who was working their North American debut this past spring: for one reason or another we missed it. Too bad! Orquestra Contemporânea de Olinda sound like they’re an awful lot of fun live. They’re from Pernambuco, Brazil; their speciality is frevo, the region’s blazing brass band sound. But like so many Brazilian groups (or groups from the whole of El Sur, for that matter), they reflect the continent’s amazing melting-pot esthetic. For example, the first track here, a violin-driven instrumental, is basically a calypso tune, but with maracatu percussion and hints of rustic forro music. The next one is a wry, tricky, labyrinthine, psychedelic guitar song with keening horns in the background: Love Camp 7 in Portuguese? And after that they do a soaring, horn-driven roots reggae number. Beyond their geographical location, their multistylistic excellence undoubtedly stems from the fact that they began as the house band at the local music conservatory, Grêmio Musical Henrique Dias, a remarkably community-oriented organization. As faculty meetings go, this one is unusually fun.

The rest of the album is all over the map as well. Duranteo Carnaval sways gently over a hypnotic flute-and-guitar pop vamp; Jogado Peito shifts artfully from octave guitar over a Ramones beat to samba to ska and back again. Ladeira – “Hill” – is a salfsafied samba replete with suspenseful crescendos. The sarcastically titled Nao Interessa Nao – “Not Interested” – is the best song on the album, a blistering ska/Afrobeat instrumental like something the Superpowers might do, fueled by some paint-peeling wah guitar and blazing horns. Suade is a luscious funk/samba song, which they then redo as tingly organ-and-guitar dub. The album wraps up with a fiery samba-rock song, spacy atmospherics and a flute flourish. It’s hard to find stateside, but it’s worth checking with their Brazilian distributor.

And as it turned out, the NY Times covered their show. So we don’t have to feel bad that we missed it.

July 20, 2010 Posted by | latin music, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

In Memoriam – Dave Campbell

Dave Campbell, who pushed the limits of what a drummer could do, died Wednesday in New York after emergency surgery following a battle with a long illness. He was 50. One of the best-loved and most strikingly individualistic players in the New York music scene, Campbell’s outgoing, generous presence as a musician and bandmate is irreplaceable.

Like the other great drummers of his generation, he was involved in many projects, from rock to jazz. A disciple of Elvin Jones, Campbell propelled psychedelic rock band Love Camp 7’s labyrinthine songs with equal parts subtlety and exuberance, contributing harmony and occasional lead vocals as well. While Campbell was instrumental in shaping Love Camp 7’s knottily cerebral creations into more accessible, straight-ahead rock, he took Erica Smith and the 99 Cent Dreams in the opposite direction, from Americana-tinged jangle-rock to jazz complexity. He was also the drummer in upbeat, high-energy New York rockers the K’s.

Originally from Minnesota, Campbell attended the University of Chicago and came to New York in the 1980s, where he joined Love Camp 7 as a replacement and then remained in the band over twenty years, touring Europe and recording several albums. He also handled drum and harmony vocal duties on Erica Smith’s two most recent studio albums, Friend or Foe and Snowblind. He leaves behind a considerable amount of unreleased studio work with both bands.

As a player, Campbell had an encyclopedic knowledge of rhythms and grooves and a special love for Brazilian music. His occasional solos often took the shape of a narrative, imbued with wry humor and unexpected colors. A great raconteur, Campbell’s stream-of-consciousness, machine-gun wit was informed by a curiosity that knew no bounds, combined with an ironclad logic that never failed to find the incongruity in a situation. He reveled in small, clever displays of defiance against authority, yet approached his playing and singing with a perfectionist rigor.

He is survived by his family and the love of his life, the artist and photographer Annie Sommers.

May 20, 2010 Posted by | jazz, Music, music, concert, New York City, obituary, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 36 Comments

CD Review: Dende & Hahahaes – Bahia de Todos os Santos

This is a really good, oldschool style, mostly roots reggae album from a bunch of A-list New York Brazilian musicians. Dende fronts the band and plays percussion, maybe the reason why there’s so much of it and why it’s so high in the the mix. It’s sort of a trebly alternative to the bottom-heavy, rustically and hypnotically drum-flavored sound popularized by Ras Michael back in the 70s, giving the songs a boost of energy and some cool textures you don’t often hear in classic reggae. Behind Dende there’s Gustavo Dantas on guitar, Ze Grey on bass, Adriano Santos on drums and zabumba, Ze Luis on flute and sax, Carlos Darci on trombone, Takuya Nakamura on trumpet and guests Vinicius Cantuaria on guitar and Amayo from Antibalas supplying vocals on one track. Lyrics are in Portuguese.

The album kicks off with a catchy, upbeat roots reggae number, followed by one that wouldn’t be out of place in the Bob Marley catalog. They follow that with a couple of latin grooves, growing more and more hypnotic. Then they pick up the pace with a fast disco beat, and then a ska number with a Message to You Rudie feel followed by a psychedelic, Santana-style organ interlude. There’s also a smoky, vamping, soul-inspired number, a tricky yet hypnotic tropicalia tune with flute and a backward-masked intro, a fast piano-driven number in 11/4 time, a slinky soca-flavored dance song with tinkly piano and festive horns, a majestic yet catchy roots reggae number with echoes of vintage-era Burning Spear and then a jungly, gamelanesque percussion interlude to close it out. Like a summertime vendor selling ices from his cart at Delancey and Clinton, whatever tropical flavor you like, this album has pretty much everything. Dende & Hahahaes’ next New York show is at the Atrium at Lincoln Center on April 15.

April 7, 2010 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews, world music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CD Review: Dadi – Bem Aqui

Who’s your Dadi? If you’re Brazilian, it’s probably Eduardo Magalhaes de Carvalho. Over the course of a long and eclectic career as a sideman, he’s worked with everybody from Marisa Monte to Caetano Veloso to Mick Jagger. This new album, his second as a bandleader is recently out on Sunnyside, and unlike what you might expect from that label it’s not a jazz release but instead a tersely arranged, irrepressibly sunny, indelibly Beatlesque collection of sixties-flavored three-minute pop songs. For those who were smitten by Os Mutantes, whether the first time around or later, this is considerably more direct yet equally cheery and captivating. Carvalho sings in Portuguese with a casual, thoughtful understatement.

The album kicks off with a Stax/Volt style shuffle transported to even balmier surroundings, followed by a fetching duet with Monte over swaying, vintage 70s style janglepop  driven by tasteful electric guitar and organ. The title track is sparse nocturnal bossa-pop with acoustic guitar, piano and cello; likewise, Passando echoes hypnotically with distant piano in a Jenifer Jackson vein. Nao Tente Comprender (You Don’t Get It) nicks the chords from the Beatles’ You Won’t See Me; the strikingly minimalist, swaying 6/8 rock ballad Quando Voce Me Abraca (When You Embrace Me) blends tropicalia with deliciously glimmering layers of guitars and piano.

There’s also an ominously swinging, 6/8 Os Mutantes-inflected psychedelic number capped by fat blues guitar solo; another Beatlesque tune that could have been a Brazilian version of a top 40 hit from Let It Be, right down to the watery, George Harrison-esque chorus box guitar; and another Harrison-inflected song, the gorgeous, slowly crescendoing  jazz-pop anthem Por Que Nao (Why Not). The album ends on a surprisingly dark note with a fiery, bluesy, early Santana-esque one-chord rock jam, hinting that this guy may rock harder than he lets on here. If Dadi’s lyrics were in English, he’d be huge with the American indie pop crowd, the Shins et al. As it is, it’s a breezy, fun album, the kind you find yourself humming and wonder what that tune could have come from.

February 24, 2010 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Concert Review: Jenifer Jackson at Rockwood Music Hall, NYC 10/11/09

Jenifer Jackson is back. Not that she ever stopped playing or writing songs – the good news is that her self-imposed exile in Austin is over and she’s returned to Gotham. Sunday evening’s set mixed quiet triumph with some aptly chosen late-summer mood pieces along with some of the tremendously impactful new songs she’s been working up over the last few months. If you haven’t seen Jackson in awhile and you think you know her, the answer is that you really don’t – whether she’s working harmonies off the melodies of audience favorites like Summer’s Over or End of August, or emphasizing  the tropical feel (or the rock feel) of an older number, she’s grown to the point where it’s always a crapshoot where she’ll end up. The only given is that it’ll be a good place.

As much a triumphant homecoming as this may have been, pianist Matt Kanelos underscored everything with a gritty chordal tension, completely in sync with the restlessness, unease and occasional outright angst of Jackson’s songwriting. His gentle honkytonk work on the rather sweet country ballad The Beauty in the Emptying (on Jackson’s forthcoming album) contrasted with the clenched-teeth insistence of the somewhat ironically titled Let the Times Roll (another unreleased, hypnotic gem), the ominously minimalist Groundward and the menacing Blair Witch imagery of Maybe, which was definitely the most intense song of the set.

To end the show, Jackson put down her guitar and over Kanelos’ crisp and incisive chords, put her own spin on I Say a Little Prayer for You. She may have learned it from the very first album she ever owned, Aretha Now – “For the longest time I thought that was her name,” Jackson revealed – but her interpretation was a whole lot more bossa than brass and played up its nuances for all they were worth. She’s back at the Rockwood in November and you ought to see her there.

October 13, 2009 Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CD Review: Paul Meyers – I’ve Got the World on a String

Smartly tasteful, purist Brazilian-style jazz from a first-rate cast of players: bandleader Paul Meyers on guitar, Helio Alves on piano, Donny McCaslin on saxes and flutes, Leo Traversa on bass and Vanderlei Pereira on drums and percussion. The songs are spacious and expansive, generous in that there’s always plenty of room for individual contributions. The chemistry between band members is obvious, creating strong and memorable interplay, nobody overplays, and the swells and ebbs of the songs are magnificently timed. You can dance to a lot of this: in the summer, ideally under the stars. It picks up as it goes along.

The title track opens with subtle samba inflections, then they burst out brightly, Alves leading the pack, bringing in a little blues but not darkening the mood, Meyers stepping out warmly on acoustic, McCaslin’s sax following comfortably in its wake, bobbing on the waves. Eyes That Smile is the prototypical song here. It’s more of a salsa groove, electric guitar and piano locked in, Meyers’ fast, scurrying, brightly melodic guitar solo down to a balmy flute interlude. And then picks up again, sax taking over, the rest of the band returning gently, this time with acoustic guitar and an Alves solo with some neat Cuban spice.

Plum begins somewhat bittersweet but grows warmer with a devious guitar-driven groove, Traversa playing with a trebly Jaco tone when it’s his turn to solo: again, dynamics come to the front here. Stars has more of a cuban beat with fluttery flute, and some particularly neat interplay between piano, guitar and flute as they each carry a part of an arpeggio. Gary Burton’s Panama, a tune originally recorded with Pat Metheny, is bouncier, the group playing against a steady guanguanco groove, guitar running through a marimba patch to enhance the tropical ambience. McCaslin gets to soar higher here than he has on any of the earlier tracks, as does Alves. Because, a strikingly somber nocturne, also serves as a showcase for McCaslin to add some darker inflections

River opens with some African inflections from Meyers, then the piano comes crashing in. Alves finally gets the chance to fire off some cascades and makes the most of them. And then McCaslin floats a balmy breeze over the rhythm section’s scurrying intricacies. The album wraps up on a high note with the buoyantly swinging, aptly titled North Meets South. If there’s anything to nitpick about here, it’s that the impeccable good taste that Meyers and crew exhibit here is both blessing and curse. They really have a lock on a mood and keep it going. The trouble is, they tease you: just when you think they might just explode and go crazy for once, they bring it back down. It would be interesting to hear this crew live and see how many more chances they might take.

July 3, 2009 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CD Review: Federico Aubele – Amatoria

Buenos Aires-born songwriter/guitarist Federico Aubele’s going for a rico suave thing here, sort of like a downtempo Gipsy Kings. At a distance this may sound like generic latin lounge music – it’s kind of formulaic, but it’s a formula that works. This cd offers layers of acoustic and electric guitars with hushed lounge lizard vocals (in Spanish) over a trip-hop beat. Aubele could use a lyricist, and there are places where the drum machine becomes completely claustrophobia-inducing (the album is just out on the well-intentioned but sonically numbing Thievery Corporation’s label). Now for some good things about the cd. Aubele is an excellent, terse guitarist: there aren’t any wasted notes here. And the songs are pretty, most of them in moody minor keys. Plus, he’s dubwise. His reggae touches typically linger and reverberate in the background, lithe guitar accents cleverly and judiciously kicking in at unexpected moments.

Suena Mi Guitarra sways and bounces, trip-hop meets tango with a jangly reggae guitar feel. Te Quiero a Ti is upbeat and evocative of Mexican groups like the Reggae Cowboys. Del Ayer layers phased backward-masked guitars in the background; there’s also a duet with the unlikely choice of Miho Hatori from Cibo Matto, who quite surprisingly acquits herself so well that she really ought to have been given a turn out front. The most bizarre cut here – tropicalia is just full of them, isn’t it? – is the samba-inflected El Sabor with its layers of artificial, bubbling synth, early 80s ELO goes to Brazil. The cd ends with an acoustic guitar instrumental that offers more than a hint of a more stark, purist sensibility lurking here. Piazzolla it’s not, but it’s something you can put on at a party and nobody will complain – in fact, you’ll probably have people asking you who this is – and it’s a good late-night sleepytime cd.

May 19, 2009 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Concert Review: Jenifer Jackson and Juliana Nash at Rockwood Music Hall, NYC 3/10/09

A welcome return appearance by two very different, very conspicuously absent songwriting sirens. Jenifer Jackson has gotten a lot of ink here, justifiably: she’s simply one of the finest songwriters on the planet, someone who leaps effortlessly across boundaries, intermingling styles with a seemingly intuitive melodicism. Mixing old favorites with songs from a new cd which is three-quarters done, she said, she delivered a typically captivating set, playing her first three songs solo on guitar.


She opened with an unreleased, fetchingly catchy Americana pop number, In Spring: “Time goes fast, living in the past, maybe love will come again in spring,” she sang in her signature warm, wistful voice. On both of the next two songs, We Will Be Together and Whole Wide World, she waited til the last chorus and then improvised her way up the scale with not a little imploring and anguish and this was intense to say the least. 


Pianist Matt Kanelos then joined her on another new one, Words, a dark existentialist lament that transcends its pretty melody, contributing an aptly darkly glistening solo, Debussy meets Gershwin, when the time came. Jackson sang it impatiently: “Words, get out of my way, tripping me where I go…talk about the moment that is here!” The textural interplay between Kanelos’ sharp piano and Jackson’s warmly crescendoing fingerpicking was absolutely gorgeous in the relatively new, 6/8 ballad The Beauty in the Emptying.


The best songs of the set were dark, pensive new ones. “Yesterday the motion had no meaning, yesterday the seasons were careening,”  she related in the first, Groundward, ending up on a predictably brooding note: “Summer rain is falling.” The second, Maybe, was absolutely haunting, noir Bacharach-style bossa nova pop with a theme of restlessness, a recurrent topic in Jackson’s work. “Maybe this is as much sense as life will ever make,” she sang, half cynical and half resigned, Kanelos adding a brilliant, eerie chordal solo followed by Jackson’s la-la-la outro, ending unexpectedly and ominously with a minor-key flourish. The two encored with a hasty, happy-go-lucky cover of the old Delfonics’ doo-wop hit La La Means I Love You.


Juliana Nash is fondly remembered around these parts as the architect of the Pete’s Candy Store sound, and a den mom of sorts to scores of excellent New York acoustic bands who called the little Brooklyn bar home from the mid-90s to the early zeros. This was a striking reminder of how fun her own shows at her old home base used to be. A petite woman with a matter-of-fact, deadpan wit and a big, powerful soul voice, she told the crowd that this was her first-ever show featuring just guitar and piano (Kanelos back behind the keys again, unrehearsed but gamely following Nash’s smartly intiutive, catchy changes). Fighting off the rust (she hasn’t had many shows here in town recently), she held a lot in reserve tonight until the end of the show, working her way through a mix of pleasantly familiar, pensive, sometimes countryish pop songs. Like Jackson, she has an ear for a hook and an eye for a striking lyrical image: “Love’s a champion battleship, you need an ocean of tears to float it,” she lamented on the the blue-eyed soul ballad Love Is Heavy that opened the show. Another thoughtful ballad, Maybe Street, looked at life sardonically and metaphorically through the eyes of sisters named Hope and Joy. She used the pensive Built for Longing as an exercise in subtle shading rather than turning it into a big tour de force like she usually does.


She related a story of how she and Jackson many years ago celebrated a birthday by shoplifting a couple of tiaras out of a 99-cent store because they were too broke to afford them. And then launched into a hilarious and absolutely spot-on, somewhat Lou Reed-inflected riff-rock homage to the wee hours in New York: “It’s six AM and I’m drunk again, I turn incidents to habits,” she wailed gleefully. For anyone who’d ever walked home from the L at 14th St. after closing Pete’s, watching the newspaper trucks make their rounds, this hit the spot sweetly. She wrapped up the show with the passionate yet wary rocker Tiny Belladonna (written about her daughter), a darkly beautiful, elegaic number where she cautioned that “It’s ok not to be everything we thought we would be when we were young,” and another soul-inflected ballad, Everlasting Ache where she paced herself until the end before finally cutting loose with that voice of hers. And then encored with the tongue-in-cheek Rocks in Your Head, something she’d pulled fortuitously from the archives. Jenifer Jackson is back at the Rockwood on Mar 24 at 8; watch this space for Juliana Nash sightings.

March 11, 2009 Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Jenifer Jackson Interview

One of the great songwriters of our time, Jenifer Jackson is arguably the prototypical multistylistic rock goddess. A seemingly perpetual traveler, originally from New Jersey, then Massachusetts, she made her mark in New York, releasing six superb albums over the last ten years. A cult artist who’s widely esteemed by her colleagues and owns a considerable European following, she was gracious to give Lucid Culture a few minutes to discuss her upcoming New York shows on March 10 and 24 at Rockwood Music Hall along with a few odds and ends:


Lucid Culture: You’re doing two shows at the Rockwood. You seem to like that place.


Jenifer Jackson: The Rockwood and Joe’s Pub are my two favorite venues in NYC. Ken Rockwood has created such a comfortable and great sounding room, and the atmosphere is attentive and friendly! It’s the perfect, intimate place to come home to. My shows there are always very emotional for me, in a good way! Heartwarming…


LC: Who are you playing with this time around?


JJ: Matt Kanelos will play piano on a few tunes with me and on the 24th, Oren Bloedow will be with me. I may also have another special guest!


LC: Do you miss New York?


JJ. Very much. I miss the musicians and the listeners and all my friends. However, I’m sitting on my porch, in a t-shirt and shorts right now, on February 11… I do not miss the COLD winters in NYC…..


LC: What’s the most striking difference between your new hometown and New York?


JJ: This is a trick question. Austin has better tacos. NYC has better pizza.


LC: Could you see yourself in Austin for awhile or are you feeling restless already?


JJ: Always restless. Searching for the place, or way, to feel settled! Perhaps it isn’t in my nature, though I seem to desire it. I am always seeking.


LC: Restlessness is a recurring theme in your writing – and you seem restless with any one particular style of music. Can you explain?


JJ: OH! I am not really restless with styles. I like a lot of styles, and many seep into my writing and composing. My staples are bossa nova, and that 60’s pop beat……


LC: Over the course of your career, you’ve played Beatlesque pop, trip-hop, pretty straight-up oldschool country, Nashville gothic, bossa nova, jazz, noir 60s rock and Philly soul. What other genres haven’t you written in yet? What intrigues you the most at this point?


JJ: I go with my emotions — my newest song is a bit of a raga! Perhaps remnants from my old block in New York, East Sixth Street [Indian restaurant row]….


LC: Your most recent cd The Outskirts of a Giant Town is actually a live album, recorded in the studio. Did you have any trepidation doing it oldschool like that, realizing that any imperfection would require a second or third take, etc.?


JJ: Absolutely not. It was my DREAM to record this way, with such excellent musicians, capturing all the spontaneity and working off each other, as we do live.


LC: How many takes did it typically take to get a song down, and did you cut and paste at all?


JJ: One or two. No real cutting and pasting.


LC: Would you want to take a risk like that again and do another live-in-the-studio album?


JJ: Yes. It is a luxury for me to work that way. The record I am making now is more bit by bit, since that is what is possible where I am now. It’s a more standard approach, which is fine.


LC: Can we go back in time a ways, to the roots of maybe where you got all those styles? Did you grow up in a musical family? Your dad Julian Jackson, for example, is a dj on WOMR-FM in Provincetown, MA, and also appears with you on the father-daughter collaboration Together in Time.


JJ: I listened and sang to my dad’s albums while growing up. Aretha Franklin, Joni Mitchell, Carole King, and then I discovered Neil Young. Later, in college, I began singing and learning about jazz.


LC: You’re also a painter. Are there common elements to creating visual art and writing music?


JJ: I just paint for fun! But with both writing music and painting, I attempt to distill an object, a person, an emotion to its most essential element. I try to be as simple as I can, to find images that can evoke, and at the same time, remain simple.


LC: Which came first, the painting or the music?


JJ: It was simultaneous.


LC: One of your songs has the line “I made a lot of money from some paintings that I sold.” Done that lately?


JJ: No…I procrastinate…I have wanted to have a business of painting pet portraits.  I have painted many, many! For friends, as gifts. Once a guy did offer me a bunch of money for some landscapes, but I decided not to sell them, since I kind of got attached to them.


LC: You’ve been writing what seems like a ton of songs lately, and as usual, you’re all over the map. One of them is a really pretty, quiet 6/8 ballad called The Beauty in the Emptying. I understand that’s about cleaning the junk out of your apartment before you moved to Texas?


JJ: Hee hee, I did say that at a show, but that is a bit of an OVERsimplification! It was about the throwing away that lightens a voyage. Literal and metaphorical.


LC: There’s another one, a big hypnotic anthem with a chorus that goes “let the good times roll,” nothing like the blues song. Can you comment on that one?


JJ: It’s upbeat and has a hook! Again, all about the endless seeking, restlessness, need for love, overactive brain. Suggesting to “let the good times roll” as a release from all the thinking and worrying.


LC: I understand you’ve been doing some recording over email, for example, with another new one, Words.


JJ: I have been recording in Austin with Billy Doughty, my drummer. We have pretty much done everything ourselves, with the addition of John Abbey  – my old bassist! – on it. We are about halfway done with the record.


LC: Vocally, you’ve been through a couple of phases as well. For example, on your first cd Love Lane you were going for more of an electric rock feel, and you belted a lot more than you do now; then there was a point, I think about 5-6 years ago when you seemed to really want to wail and project with your voice. Lately you’ve been sticking with a quieter, softer vocal delivery, as you have throughout most of your career. Was that a conscious choice? Does it give you more leeway, to create dynamics?


JJ: I love dynamics, and I love sensitivity. It’s been an evolution for me, and my bandmates. I still try to have a few rockers even if they are now soft rockers!!!


LC: You’re a terrific guitar player. I can tell because you usually close your eyes when you sing and you never look at your fingers. You also like different tunings. Where first inspired you to do that, and do you have a favorite out of all of them?


JJ: Thanks – I just use a regular tuning, sometimes I drop my low E string to a D, then forget to retune it for the next song!


LC: Was guitar your first instrument? I know you also play keys…


JJ: Piano was first, guitar second, drums third.


LC: Any timetable for the new cd?


JJ: Do not know…


LC: Do you have a theme or a concept for it?


JJ: Something about the beauty being in the spaces in between.


LC: Who are some of the players you’re working with at the moment?


JJ: Here in Austin I work with Billy Doughty on drums and melodica and an upright player named Chris Jones. Back in New York I work with Oren Bloedow [from Elysian Fields], Greg Wieczorek [Joseph Arthur, the Autumn Defense], Matt Kanelos, and up in Boston with the wonderful Sonny Barbato [brilliant jazz accordionist and composer].


LC: You know, there’s still a big fan base for you here, every time I say “Jenifer Jackson” people go “OMG, she’s so good, I can’t believe she’s not famous.” And while you’re admired by your fellow musicians, somehow you’re still not famous. Does that bother you? I know you’re a Leo…


JJ: Yes, it bothers me. And yes, I am a Leo. I keep wishing a manager would discover me and help master-mind a career for me…..


LC: I was talking about you once with one of the great songwriters of our time, and she said, “I wish Jenifer Jackson would write an angry song.” There’s a lot of melancholy in your writing, but I think the most pissed-off you ever got was that line “for god’s sake close the bathroom door.” To what degree is that a reflection of your personality?


JJ: I generally don’t like angry, venting songs, so I don’t choose to write them.


LC: Like most musicians, you’ve been a big Obama supporter. Is the honeymoon over, or do you still have hope?


JJ: I still have hope. I am so relieved to have a President with a brain. Although I am very worried about what he’s thinking he’s doing in Afghanistan.


LC: What are you listening to these days? Here’s your chance to give some shout-outs to your favorite peeps…


KK: Chet Baker, compilations of Son Cubano, Tom Jobim and Elis Regina, Mason Jennings.


JJ: With the implosion of the major record labels, the struggles the indie labels are having – and not to mention how corporate most of the indies have become – what do you think the future holds for musicians like yourself who write in a style that used to rely on the radio to reach an audience? In other words, is there a future for pop music?


JJ: Oh god. I am the worst person to ask about this. I have always avoided the biz. And I am a terrible strategist.


LC: As a performer, you seem more carefree now than you were when I first saw you when you were first starting out. Is that true or are you just a better dissembler?


JJ: Just drinking more booze now. NO NOT REALLY, I guess I am just enjoying more and more and not concerned about anything but the music and the feeling!


LC: There’s a lot of solace and comfort in your writing, and your voice. Where do you find solace?


JJ: Nature, animals, the ocean, playing and singing, dancing….


LC: I understand you’ve become infatuated with those miniature horses they have down where you are. Is that true?


JJ: Yes. I recently met three mini-horses, and one fell in love with me. It’s very unconventional, I know.


LC: Going back to your time in Massachusetts, do you give a damn about what the Red Sox are doing or aren’t doing, or are you too much of an esthete to care about that kind of silly stuff?


JJ:  I don’t follow them! But my accordionist, Sonny Barbato, is a HUGE FAN. Shall I ask him for a comment?


LC: Definitely!! Sonny KNOWS the Sox!


Sonny Barbato: After trailing the Yankees 3 games to 0 in the 2004 ALCS, the Red Sox won the next four games including the last two at Yankee Stadium. They eventually swept St. Louis to win the World Series. In 2007 they won again. They can do whatever they want from now on, I am content and completely satisfied.


Jenifer Jackson plays Rockwood Music Hall on March 10 at 8 PM and then again at 8 PM on March 24.

February 13, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment