“We raised $2K for Children”s Hospital…for the research of “SIDS”, said owner Andrew Toole, “We raised the money by silent auction with items donated by Natures Way, Pepsi Centre and Scruffy”s putting up two round trip tickets to Ireland.” Big Paddy, Kinetics & 66 Days provided entertainment. (photo by Donnie Danesh)
With fiddle in hand, she will drop into the Conor O”Neill”s Sunday night session in Boulder to play and visit with friends. “The folks there have been so supportive and kind,” she said about her fellow session players, “really generous with their excitement for me.” She will also teach fiddle lessons when she is home to her students with flexible schedules. “I really love to teach and get people excited about such a joyous music ” I think there are a lot of people out there that like the variety and spontaneity of the traditional Irish music ” it”s a great outlet for young and old”.Passionate about Irish traditional music, Jessie”s first instruction was in classical violin which she played for ten years as a child in Suffolk, England. For the past 15 years or so Jessie has been focusing on Irish trad but she has also been introduced to some of it”s cousins. “I”ve been influenced by American music like Old Time and Bluegrass as well because I”ve been living out in Colorado and played that a fair bit as well.”So going from trad to the bigger sound of GS, what kind of adjustments did you need to make?
“You have to do an adjustment with how you play ” like in a lot of kinds of music, if you”re the melody player people will follow you ” if you want to pick the pace of the tune up or slow it down you do and the guitarist will follow you. But when you”re in a more contemporary group with a drum kit you have to fit ” you can”t just say “gee, I think I”ll speed it up now” because you would just get out of time with everyone. The group is set by the drum and guitar and you have to fit. Fitting into that rhythm has probably been the hardest challenge for me… it continues to be a really fun challenge. I get to explore rhythm in a way that I”ve never done before ” I”m backing up the songs as well as playing melody”You have a wireless fiddle that allows you to interact freely with band members and audience. How have you adjusted to this physical movement aspect on stage?
“Yes, if I moved around like that in a trad setting I would take everyone out,” she said with a laugh, adding, “Pretty much of the job description is to be really energetic and just really have a great time playing on stage ” and we honestly are- its the highlight of every day to get on stage and play ” we spend all day getting -driving there, arranging it ” then you finally get up there and play. I get really filled with energy when I”m up on stage, and the tunes are so catchy that I just can”t stand still.”So how did you get plucked out of comfortable Colorado to tour the world with GS?
“I put my Myspace page(website) together and started shooting-off “friend requests” (one way musicians cross promote on each others sites) to just all sorts of people including Gaelic Storm.” A day or two later Jessie got and email from their Nashville management office requesting that she give them a call and arrange to fly out to the East coast to audition the next week. “He sent me a bunch of cds-and I tried to learn about six albums in one week-which backfired” she laughed recalling the information overload. “But I did the audition with them and it went well and they were all really nice…Ellery Klein (their fiddle player at the time) with her pregnant tummy was very nice and helpful. They gave me-kind of like a trial period where I went out on tour for about a week apprenticing with her – so we would be both on stage and she showed me the ropes.Once we worked out that I wanted to be there and they wanted me there than Ellery left when she was about 5 months pregnant – so I became their full time fiddle player.”Now that you have been touring for a half a year or so do you feel like a bona fide member of the band?
“Now it feels like I have been doing it forever” she said with a laugh, then resumed on a more serious note, “I think it is so much about how personalities get on ” its no use being an amazing musician if there is a big personality riff of people ” the chemistry of the band is more important. It”s sooo great, we really, really like each other and watch out for each other.”So as the only female in the band are they protective of you?
“Actually they are- they definitely keep an eye on me ” they”ve let me know that if there was ever any trouble, all I had to do was whistle and they would be there with their boxing gloves on.”Is there any downside to being the only female in the band?
“Not really, they have had a girl in the band for the last ten years, so in a way they treat me like one of the guys. Though they do tease me all the time ” lucky I grew up in a big family of 7 brothers and sisters. , I do beeline to other female musicians I meet on the road and immediately start talking about things that I wouldn”t normally talk about with my girlfriends -like hair, make-up and clothes.”What! the lads won”t chat fashion with you?
“No, but you would be surprised how much time they spend on their hair ” much more than me!” She said with a laugh, assuring me that none of the lads were in earshot.GS spends close to 200 days on the road, how are you managing all the time on the road ” the tour bus, hotels?
“It”s a unique work situation where you virtually live with your co-workers and bosses and you depend on each other for company-you create music together, you do business as a team – a lot of our time goes into merchandise “selling and accounting. When were on the tour bus, its is a big vehicle and you can get space on it you know ” you learn quickly how important to have a really could set of headphones-and a good computer-and I-pod so you have the option to be in your own world as you travel. I”m so glad cell phones were invented because I can stay in touch with friends back home, and of course email is really key. We don”t sleep on the bus we stay in hotels all the time ” it would be a lot harder if we had to sleep on the bus.”Is there a shower? “Yes “but it is occupied by beer crates.”So the all the travel is not draining?“Mostly I”ve woke up every morning excited to see what”s coming next- but every now again you just want to go home-you just want your mommy you know. You just want some good healthy home cooked food and the same bed and a place where you can be by yourself every now and again. But that happens rarely- and I think that you have to be kind of an adventurous kind of person who likes to be in new places and see new things all of the time.”What has been your most memorable gig so far?“I heard about Milwaukee for decades ” about being such an amazing festival ” and to actually get to play there was like a dream come true for sure.Friday night played in front of upwards to 10,000 people…as far back as you could see was a sea of people ” it was a little daunting to be up there with legends of Irish music all over the place ” and thousands and thousands of people. The energy was phenomenal “really incredible!Saturday the rain came. Waking up on Saturday morning and seeing sheets of rain coming down wondering yet again if it would be another festival wash-out which happened a lot this summer. But, the Saturday concert was turned out to be incredible. The band said that it was the best show that they have done in ten years ” since they had been together. It was definitely the most fun that I”ve ever had on stage ” just because everyone kind of teamed together-the audience was out in the wet and cold, and we were up there knowing that we had to cheer them up and give them something to dance about and get warm again ” We ended up stage surfing on the front of the stage on our stomachs in front of all of those people ” this band is all about giving people a really good time – making people feel really glad that they”re at the gig and have them leave with big smiles on their faces.”Jessie will be having a couple of homecoming of sorts – November 1st when she returns to Colorado with Gaelic Storm, and November 9th when she and the band will be in concert in New Mexico where her mom grew up and many relatives live.An Evening with Gaelic Storm, Thursday, November 1st, 7:30 pm Show, 6:30pm Doors. All Ages Show (Under 16 must be accompanied by parent w/ticket)/GA. Gothic Theatre, 3263 South Broadway, Englewood CO. Tickets: $15.00 Advance $20.00 DOS. Advance tickets at Denver Folklore Center, Kereen O”Connors and at: www.gothictheatre.com or call 303-777-0502An Evening with Gaelic Storm, Friday, November 9th, 8:00pm Show, 7:00pm Doors, ALL AGES SHOW/GA, The Historic El Rey Theater, 622 Central Ave SW, Albuquerque, NM. Tickets $10 kids & students w/school I.D., $15 Advance $20 DOS. Advance tickets available at Encore Music, Bookworks, All Zone location, 1.866.I.GetTix or GetTix.net.In Colorado call 303-777-0502.