The 2017 Philly Folk Fest
Saturday, August 26, 2017
Tuesday, August 22, 2017
Eilen Jewell Hits the road in Support of Latest Album Release
By Rob Nagy
It was destiny that led singer songwriter Eilen Jewell to embark on a career as a blues artist. While rock and roll initially ignited her passion for music at an early age, it was the great blues artists, Mississippi John Hurt, Howlin’ Wolf, Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday and Memphis Minnie that left an indelible impression.
“The blues has always hit a nerve in me,” recalls Jewell, from her home in Boise, Idaho. “In my early teens, I can remember coming across my dad’s record collection in the garage and it had a lot of Mississippi John Hurt and Howlin’ Wolf. My dad was in tune with the whole ‘60s blues revival. I guess I was intrigued by the names really; who wouldn’t be? When I played their records, it was like ‘Wow - this is it!’”
“After I discovered my love for blues music, I realized that the rock and roll I had been listening to and naturally gravitated towards, I could hear the blues influence in those songs, those artists. Janis Joplin for example; I was a huge fan of hers before I really discovered blues. That’s why I love her because you can hear blues in her.”
“I want to hear the blues influence in rock and roll that’s why I prefer the Stones over the Beatles, there I said it! There’s just so much blues going on in what they do. Before I knew what to call it, blues is just naturally what I wanted to hear.”
“I really love the honesty in the blues,” explains Jewell. “There’s no smoke and mirrors. It’s raw and it’s emotional. It’s really from the heart, at least the early blues, the stuff that I like from the early ‘20s through the ‘60s. It just sounds unadulterated and pure.”
Jewell’s latest release, “Down Hearted Blues,” features a collection of 12 tracks spanning decades of classic blues, paying homage to the works of Willie Dixon, Memphis Minnie, Charles Sheffield and Betty James, among others.
“I’m really excited about this album,” says Jewell.
“I’ve always wanted to sing more blues songs and do a straight-ahead blues project, and finally everything worked out that we could do it this time. We really love to uncover the past. It’s almost like digging for buried treasure, for me that’s where music is. I like all kinds of music as long as there’s the word ‘early’ in front of it. Everything about the album feels really serendipitous. It was supposed to happen.”
Growing up in Boise, Idaho, Jewell relocated to Santa Fe, New Mexico then Los Angeles, California, where she performed on the streets before ending up in the thriving Boston music scene. It was here where Jewell formed her band, laying the foundation for life as a professional musician.
“When I was still in college, I wanted to give busking a try by myself,” recalls Jewell. “It was kind of huge for me because it meant that I was acknowledging that there was something important about performing and it really filled a need in me that I didn’t even know was there.”
“I went a year or so ignoring that need, thinking, I could be something else and figure out a different path,” adds Jewell. “I wasn’t really sure what that would be. I thought, ‘who am I to become a performing musician?’ A year or two later, I realized I was spinning my wheels and that I was not happy doing anything else but pursuing music. At that point I was in Boston, found my band and started to get real shows on real stages and get off the streets. It was like, ‘I know what makes me happy,’ and I never looked back.”
Releasing a live demo in 2005, “Nowhere in Time,” Jewell then recorded her debut album, “Boundary County” that same year. A decade later with nearly a dozen studio albums, EP’s and live recordings to her credit, Jewell is content with where she finds her career.
“I realized a couple years ago that I don’t really want huge audiences all the time,” says Jewell. “It’s fun at a festival every now and then to be in front of a huge crowd. I think that if I were always having high profile, bigger shows, I don’t know if it would be as fun. I like doing these intimate shows where I can see everyone in the audience. I love being at this level where after the show I can meet my fans and not have it be too weird. It’s kind of a strange thing that I don’t want more success. It’s kind of hoping for your own lack of success. I just love the manageability of it. Things can get out of hand in the music business. So, I’m really satisfied with where I’m at right now.
“Looking back, I can see how events in my life kind of came to conspire to put me on this path,” adds Jewell. “It was not really a matter of choice. It always felt like it was the only true option available to me. It was the only viable road for me to travel down.”
Eilen Jewell will perform at the Kennett Flash, 102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, PA 19348, on Friday September 1, 2017 at 8:00 P.M. For tickets and information, visit www.kennettflash.org.
To stay up to date with Eilen Jewell visit www.eilenjewell.com