Originally Published: November 13, 2008 10:13 p.m.
Critically acclaimed singer/songwriter Jess Klein brings her emotionally charged folk/roots music to the Granite Peak Folk Sessions Friday, Nov. 21 with blues guitarist Lamar Hill.
Called "an incredible talent" by Acoustic Magazine, Klein first performed in her teens while living in Jamaica where, while shopping for cassette tapes of dub poets Mutabaruka and Linton Kwesi Johnson, she met local author and MC Lady Elean Thomas, who declared, "she got soul, mon," after adding her to a weekly dub poetry session.
Klein later moved to Boston, playing locally and releasing two albums independently, and won the Telluride Troubadour Songwriting contest before Rykodisc president George Howard spotted her and signed her to the label in 2000.
Klein's first album for Rykodisc, "Draw Them Near," garnered her a rave review from USA Today as well as a world tour, during which she performing for 70,000 fans at Japan's Fuji Rock Festival. Returning to the U.S., she joined the songwriter collective Voices on the Verge with Erin McKeown, Rose Polezani and Beth Ansel, who performed Klein's "Little White Dove" on "Good Morning America."
Klein moved to NYC in 2004 and recorded "Strawberry Lover," produced by RCA recording artist Mark Copely, an album with a rock edge highlighting influences like early Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello and Patti Smith while revealing Klein's childhood love of Motown and soul music.
Touring with the album, she immersed herself in '60s-era blues like Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Howlin' Wolf and Willie Dixon influencing the gritty, impassioned "City Garden," her most recent album that caused the Boston Globe to call her "quite simply one of the most gifted performers this area has produced."
Klein currently lives in Austin between tours of the U.S. and Europe (she spent the last two weeks in Ireland and the U.K.) and is working on her next album.
Lamar Hill, who now lives in Prescott, has had one of those careers meant for a screenplay.
Brother of "Prairie Home Companion" regular Linda Williams, the guitarist/songwriter has played with a who's who of Nashville and L.A. music royalty and has the scars to prove it - literally.
Two years ago at Merllefest, he did a flying rock star leap in a fit of relived adolescence and blew out his knee, requiring a helicopter to airlift him from the festival.
Jess Klein with Lamar Hill perform at 7 p.m. next Friday at the Granite Peak Unitarian Universalist Hall, 882 Sunset Dr. in Prescott. Admission is $15; $10 for students.