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CLARA BAKER w/ Jess McIntosh
June 28 | 8:00 pm-10:00 pm$8
Clara Baker‘s music is “medicine for the heart, mind and psyche,” (No Depression)– full of honest and thoughtful lyrics, soulful singing, impressive instrumentation, and an energetic groove. Clara’s clear, strong voice and heartfelt songwriting is often compared to that of young Joni Mitchell, though you can tell that she spent her formative years in the bluegrass world when you hear her driving rhythm guitar or her creative flatpicking leads.
Clara’s debut album, Temporary Things, was released to critical acclaim, as well as widespread radio play in the US and internationally. The album charted as top-played for two months in a row on national folk DJ charts.
On stage Clara is charismatic, sincere and at ease while performing, and clearly finds great joy in sharing her music. Her poetic observations draw you close, and her powerful vocals and guitar playing show a striking level of mastery of her instruments and confidence in her approach to playing them. Clara is based in Portland, OR and tours nationally.
Fiddle-driven songwriter and composer Jess McIntosh released her debut album, Long Time Exhaling in early 2017. Ten years supporting other artists as a fiddler, singer, banjoist and guitarist inform her stage presence with easy wit and generous musical sensibility. Bandmates and multi-instrumentalists Aaron Smith and Bill Harris come steeped in avant-garde jazz, classical music, and traditional bluegrass. Together, the ensemble provokes an unrefined balance between familiarity and newness, held together by strong lyrics and melody under the umbrella of alt-country-folk.
Whether in ethereal fiddle-banjo melodies, robust pop-country stylings, or stripped-down electric guitar and vocals, McIntosh’s first all-original album follows the footsteps of her arrival in Chicago and dealings with grief and impermanence as a twenty-something stumbling under the weight of student loan debt. In her title track, “Long Time Exhaling,” McIntosh rejoices, “Get me the ones I’ve known so long / I will sing through all the lines that we’ve drawn / it’s a long time exhaling / that makes for one good song.” In 2015, The Chicago Tribune declared McIntosh’s original work “…captures the evergreen desire for rebirth and freedom that drives us on to greatness and darkness alike.”
As a classically-trained violinist turned fiddler and songwriter, McIntosh has performed from Northwest Wisconsin chamber and symphony orchestras (University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire) to the mountains of her temporary home in East Tennessee (Johnson City), to the wide world on tour with folk-punk banjoist Al Scorch (Bloodshot Records). Over the past four years, McIntosh has been a teaching artist at Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music and composer and lyricist for the House Theatre Company of Chicago, confidently attributing her musical leanings to the churning, fertile beast that is the Midwest.