2 years ago today I drove myself and my belongings onto a ferry headed for “America”. I had been living and working on the island of Martha’s Vineyard for 7 years, year-round and I was (finally) moving away. The job and the island were always supposed to be temporary – a few years of radio experience and I would move on. I never anticipated that I would stay for so long, that I would learn and grow so much, or that I would meet so many incredible people.
a blurry photo I snapped through my windshield as I drove onto the boat
So much has happened in the past 2 years. I’m proud of myself for helping my family in a time of need, for helping my hometown with a new spot for live music, for getting myself back on stage (and landing a dream role!), and for landing a dream job.
I tend to push myself quite a bit, but I also know it’s important to step back at times and give myself some credit. I want to remind you to do the same.
“You know sometimes, I don’t know why, but this old town just seems so hopeless…”
Words escape me when it comes to the loss of Tom Petty. Today during my midday shift on WUMB, I incorporated plenty of his music, but really couldn’t speak much about him. I didn’t feel like a radio host, capable of spouting knowledge about an artist…I felt like a lover of music, without the means to express just how much this particular artist’s melodies, words and persona impacted me.
We’ve lost many incredible musicians this year, but this one particularly hurts for me. Tom Petty had a way of conveying universally felt emotions with such simplicity. That’s the idea with music right? To connect, to commiserate, to mourn or to rejoice together. Petty expressed himself through his music in such a REAL way. I think it made for a very down-to-earth vibe coming from an absolute rock star – something that was very unique.
There will truly never be another Tom Petty.
Maybe I’ll find more words in time, since this news is just setting in. For now I listen to “Here Comes My Girl” on repeat… a song I hope to walk down the aisle to some day! It’s a perfect example of his realness, his casual cool. He’s barely singing! He speaks and shouts and expresses what every person in a relationship hopes their partner feels –
“yea every time it seems like there ain’t nothin left no more I find myself havin’ to reach out and grab hold of somethin’…yea I just catch myself wonderin’ and waitin’, worryin’ about some silly little things that don’t add up to nothin’…and then she looks me in the eye and says ‘we’re gonna last forever’ and man you know I can’t begin to doubt it…no cause it just feels so good, and so free, and so right, I know we ain’t never gonna change our minds about it, hey!”
I’ve settled into the groove of middays on WUMB… you can hear me from 10am until 2pm each weekday. One feature I love curating is the “10 o’clock Coffee Break” at around 10:20am. This is very often the new music that arrived in my inbox that same morning… we are lucky as a radio station to be the first to get the download links to the new releases, and often months in advance. Sometimes it’s coming straight from a CD that someone handed me the weekend before, at a live show.
However I came across it, it’s something NEW and something I think you might enjoy. More often than not, it’ll be an artist you’ve heard of, but occasionally I’ll try to introduce you to a promising new voice.
Here are a few of the latest new tracks I’ve featured on the 10 o’clock Coffee Break…
Frightened Rabbit “Rained On”
Son Little “O Me O My”
Deer Tick “Sea Of Clouds”
Rostam “Thatch Snow”
Tune in to commercial-free WUMB
Streaming online at www.wumb.org
You know those passions you have in life…the ones that you don’t end up pursuing or keeping up with for one reason or another?
Photography is definitely one of those for me. I’ve loved snapping photographs for as long as I can remember. I even completed a film photography minor when I was in college.
I think that’s why I love Instagram so much… it’s an easy way for me to hang on to that passion, which is now just a hobby…I enjoy it immensely!
Follow my there – @phjess
I’m excited to be headed to the Northeast Regional Folk Alliance in the fall. It’s my first such conference and I’ll be on a panel or two (more info to come). I was also asked to judge submissions for the semi-formal showcase at NERFA, and there were over 200 acts to listen to! It was quite an interesting process listening to such a variety of music and figuring out which score to dole out for each act. Obviously there were musicians and bands that really impressed me, so I figured I should share some of the standouts with you here…I’ll narrow it down to a few who particularly hit the spot when it comes to my own musical tastes as well:
Moody, dark folk out of Toronto…
Killer vocals on this NYC artist who has Boston ties…
Frances Luke Accord
A duo with delightful harmonies, based in Chicago…
Quirky folk/pop out of East Nashville…
I’ve experienced lots of change since my last post… including a new job at Passim.
Club Passim is a music venue tucked at the end of Palmer Street in Harvard Square… Passim is a non-profit, and it’s more than just a club. It’s a music community.
The roots of Passim run DEEP. In the 60’s, the venue played a big role in the rise of folk music in the city of Cambridge. Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell and Muddy Waters all performed there, back when the space was called Club 47.
I’ve admired this venue for a very long time… it’s always a listening room. The people who attend the shows are there to fully absorb the experience, and with a room like that, every performance becomes a special one.
It doesn’t hurt that the talent that comes through is astonishing. Some folks have caught on, frequently coming into shows blindly and putting trust in longtime club manager, Matt Smith, who books the acts. The musicians are not always strictly folk…they dance around the genre every which way.
Beyond being a venue, Passim has a school of music, a scholarship fund, and a restaurant open for dinner every night of the week (during the performances) and Sunday mornings for brunch. They also host a winter Celtic music festival and a series of free outdoor concerts in the summertime… and that’s where I come in!
It’s been a whirlwind of a summer as I bounce around Cambridge, helping to put on the free outdoor concerts. I’ve been able to connect with so many wonderful people, hear plenty of amazing music, and help spread the word about Passim! And it’s not over yet… I’ve got about 6 more weeks of concerts (listed here: passim.org/summer-concert-series)
Then I’ll turn my focus towards planning and executing the 15th Anniversary of BCMFest – a three day Celtic Music Festival held in Cambridge in January.
To accommodate my busy summer schedule, I moved to the midday shift at WUMB – you can now hear me 10am to 2pm each weekday at 91.9FM Boston | Falmouth | Worcester (and streaming at wumb.org)!