Jewell embodies Americana at festival
Written by COLE CHRISTENSEN Sentinel Staff Writer   
Saturday, 18 August 2012 07:36
Eilen Jewell (Photo provided)
One of the more memorable Black Swamp Arts Festival moments in recent years occurred in 2008 on the Acoustic Stage on Main. Eilen Jewell and her band readied for their set and just before starting she exclaimed “we’ve never done this before…so this should be fun” in reference to performing without amplification.
The band then proceeded to launch into an amazing set, despite the sound limitations, that encompassed all of her albums, including gospel standards from her work with her side group, The Sacred Shakers, and a few Loretta Lynn covers in homage to one of her biggest influences.
A fear of doing something new musically is not something Jewell has illustrated in her career. One solid chronological listen through her discography will showcase an artist in evolution, creating strong original music that has encompassed folk, jazz, rockabilly, blues, classic country, and early rock-and-roll sounds, all rooted in her floating, sensual voice and talented supporting band.
In many ways Jewell and her band are the purest example of “Americana,” a term that has come to encapsulate the melding of multiple forms of American music and styles into a cohesive sound, and often aligned with the less commercial side of modern music.
"I don’t know what I would do if there wasn’t an Americana genre,” Jewell said in a recently telephone interview. “I don’t know where I would fit in today’s music world. I’ve got no pop in me. What we do is so not commercial, if it weren’t for this kind of underground movement I don’t know where I would be.”
There are so many things for diverse music fans to enjoy about Jewell’s music. Fans of early country will certainly pick up on her similarities to great female country singers, as showcased through her critically-acclaimed 2010 Loretta Lynn tribute album “Butcher Holler.”
Similarly, fans of early rock-and-roll will gravitate to her band’s twangy approach on her most recent “Queen of the Minor Key” album, backed by edgier, but still soulful, singing from Jewell.
For Jewell, the process of creating new music is less about forcing a song into a particular sound than about allowing the music to develop through an organic process.
“I never really set out for a particular sound on an album, which I know a lot of people do,” she said. “My method is more is to have no method and let the music go where it wants to go. Really it is the songs that dictate.”
At the heart of Jewell’s sound, both on record and live, is our core band that has been at her side for most of her career, including her 2008 BSAF appearance. This includes drummer Jason Beek, guitarist Jerry Miller and bassist Johnny Sciascia.
In 2011 alone the band spent more than 200 days on the road and performed more than 170 shows around the country and the world.
All of that time on the road and in the stage has enabled Jewell and her band to continue to push their music in different directions, while still holding a quality that can only be described as the Eilen Jewell sound. Country, rock, folk, blues, jazz…Americana.
“Certain lyrics call for certain melodies and once the lyrics and melodies are in place together, to me that kind of leads to the different styles of music,” she said. “Some of our songs sound like country western or early rock and roll or rockabilly or folk, and I think that is the song pushing us where it wants to go.”
Last Updated on Saturday, 18 August 2012 07:42

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