Jessica Campbell, Heather Mae, Sara Beth Go!
201 F St. NE
Washington, DC, 20002
Doors 7:00 PM / Show 7:30 PM (event ends at 10:00 PM)
This event is all ages
Jessica Campbell has garnered critical acclaim, awards, and plum synch placements for the warm candor of her distinctive roots pop. Her stunning new album, The Anchor & The Sail, traces romantic relationships from balmy beginnings to painfully complex ends with bold emotionality. “The album title represents life; there are things that hold us back and weigh us down, anchors…and things that let us move forward, sails. The music on this album represents a reflection on past relationships in light of my recent marriage,” the Nashville, Tennessee-based artist confides.
The Anchor & The Sail was carefully culled from a pool of songs birthed from a flood of creativity. The album refines the whimsical pop of her previous album but also adds elegantly essential acoustic songs reflective of her intimate live shows. Special guest, singer-songwriter Dave Barnes (Grammy-nominated for “God Gave Me You”), is featured on the song “Mississippi.” Throughout, Campbell’s vocals are pristinely expressive, angelic but deeply emotive as she guides us through the peaks and valleys of romance. On the sweetly spare “Gone” she comes to terms with a dead-end relationship singing: You had your reasons and I had my own/Something about you never felt like home/I was afraid that I’d be all alone/My skies are brighter now that you’ve moved on. “This is a song about post-relationship self-discovery and awareness, realizing you are better off moving on,” she says.
The upliftingly tumbling “Time” is about working through the difficulties of a shared life. It gently builds from a sweet plucked banjo pattern to sweeping strings—the lean beauty of the instrumentation reflects the authentic nature of Campbell’s live performance. The taut, new wave hooks on “My Patchwork Heart” are euphoric and charming. “It’s a song about being loved by someone unconditionally,” she says. “I’ve experienced this in the relationship I have with my parents, my husband, and some of my closest friends. They love me for who I am and see me as a beautiful person despite my faults and failures.” Campbell’s vocals flow delicately, rich with winsome vulnerability. She sings: You took the rough around the edges/the tattered and shredded/I don’t know how you did it/I just know when you were through/It all looked brand new.
In the midst of writing for the new album, in April 2012 Jessica signed a worldwide co-publishing agreement with Franklin-based The MWS Group, the publishing company owned by acclaimed artist Michael W. Smith. Campbell previously won “Best Song” in the esteemed USA Songwriting Competition. She’s had a self-penned song cut by Gordon Mote, the 2-time Academy of Country Music Awards’ Piano Player of the Year. She has had songs placed in ABC’s Ugly Betty, CW’s Hart of Dixie, CBC’s (Canada) Heartland, CMT’s Melissa & Tye, and VH-1’s Tough Love New Orleans. Her 2011 album Great Escape climbed to the number 5 spot on the iTunes singer-songwriter chart. She’s been profiled in American Songwriter magazine, Nashville Scene, and Oklahoma Gazette. Brite Revolution says: “Campbell has the ability to turn the sentence of your day from ellipsis to exclamation point.”
Campbell was born and raised in the one-stoplight town of Catawba, North Carolina, where she grew up singing gospel, country, show tunes, and singing in competitions. Jessica recalls belting the National Anthem at ballparks, rodeos, gyms, football stadiums and anywhere else that would have her. “There weren’t many concert opportunities in my hometown, so I made the most out of what was around,” she says. She attended college and graduate school at Middle Tennessee State University outside of Nashville, while continuing her musical journey—writing songs, recording, performing at Dollywood (Dolly Parton’s theme park), singing song demos, leading music at church, and touring.
The Anchor & The Sail was produced by longtime creative collaborator Cason Cooley (Katie Herzig, Mat Kearney, Matthew Perryman Jones, Sixpence None The Richer, Andrew Peterson). Cooley worked with Campbell on her 2009 debut EP and the follow-up Great Escape LP. “Over the last two years, we’ve both grown immeasurably in our careers and it feels like our hard work is paying off on this album,” Campbell says. The two spent six weeks recording the album in Nashville, meticulously tailoring each song’s production aesthetic.
“All of these songs are reflective of my life, from past experiences of heartbreak to the happy hopeful songs reflecting my joy as a newlywed,” Campbell says pensively. “This project is a step forward for me as I continue to grow as an artist and songwriter.”
While most attendees at an industry conference in New York were wistfully sighing over their coffees and gazing at the room’s blank white walls, Heather Mae was staring them down with the colors of fierce creativity--and she hasn’t stopped.
Hidden beyond the maze of dull chairs and heavy bricks of PowerPoint text was the speaker’s pipedream suggestion. While most of the uninspired audience dismissed the idea of writing a song every day for a year, Heather Mae became relentlessly committed to the challenge. Sparking a 365 day journey, she trekked through over 30 states, making footprints of over 7,000 lyrics and 100+ artist collaborations. Her music is supported by an ever-changing cast of complementary musicians known as “The Make Believe,” some of whom she met during this project. Taking step one on October 1, 2010, Heather Mae is reaching another landmark 2 years later, releasing her LP “One Year of Songs.”
The Pop-Folk LP is her first full length project, a follow-up to her debut EP “Gonna Be Alright.” The growth is undeniable, as the album swirls with inspiration from her yearlong project, showcasing 10 songs from her 365-piece collection. At the heart of each arrangement are stirring ukulele melodies, which are either supplemented by equally as optimistic lyrics or balanced by contemplative ones. Be assured that both sides of this story-telling coin are inspired and cathartic.
Though Heather Mae channels the influence of traditional singer/songwriters like Ingrid Michelson, Anna Nalick, and Nora Jones, she (unsurprisingly) is willing to step out of this comfort zone, layering haunting but comfortable harmonies a la the Fleet Foxes or Barenaked Ladies. Rounded out by strategic guitar turns, her sound emits the same clarity that’s reflected in her lyrics.
Heather Mae’s music could show up on your local radio station or the next Garden State-esque soundtrack. It’s the seasoning of her yearlong commitment that gives birth to this rare flexibility, having opened her musical identity to each experience of the project.
"Something happens to your art when you challenge yourself with a massive amount of work and a set deadline” said Heather Mae. “I used to wait for creativity to hit me, but after ‘One Year of Songs,’ I can brew creativity on the spot."
Sara Beth Go!
Nashville songbird Sara Beth Go has been in the music business for 10 years. At 18, she ran out of her parents’ front door in New Orleans straight to Nashville, fueled on naïve hopes to become the world’s most profound Christian artist. “Dolly Parton has this saying, ‘I’m too good to be bad and too bad to be good.’ The more I lived – the more I loved, and especially the more I hated – the more I related with Dolly’s words,” explains Sara Beth.
Once so narrowly focused, Sara Beth’s songs, like her life, began evolving and expanding with age, experience and men. Written on her grandmother’s piano, an I-got-unengaged-emotional-purchase guitar, and her iPhone, Sara Beth’s “sadly sweet, sweetly sad, aw-shucksy baroque-pop”* songs reveal a prolific singer-songwriter weathered by the everyday mundanes and Nashville’s music machine. On the road, Sara Beth travels cross-country playing at every venue available, collecting unique fans along the way. “We think we’re so different, but I’ve found by being honest that a lot of us speak the same language. The highest compliment I can receive is ‘You write the things I feel but don’t know how to say.’”
Wish it Had, the fourth independent album from Sara Beth Go, swings from whimsical adolescence to the crooked bitterness of adulthood, from stark reality to shimmery dreams. Love is a serious business. And her self-penned tunes profoundly, yet simply, reflect the gravity of this experience. “I’m really good at choosing bad men. I can’t afford therapy, so I write songs.” The crux of the album is captured with this title track lyric: ‘You thought that your love would scare me/ I wish it had.’ For Sara Beth, hope walks hand in hand with regret. And the soundtrack of this stroll will have you tapping happy feet, sighing in nostalgia, and bracing the pain all in one twenty-seven minute listen.
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