Eilen Jewell Shows What Separates the Hobbyist from the Pro

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Eilen Jewell Band.

Eilen Jewell did something new last night—two shows in one night at the venerable Iron Horse, where many of her fans were in attendance. Comfortable in a black dress in front her talented band, with Jerry Glenn Miller in his sunglasses, cowboy hat and guitar, upright bass-man, Johnny Sciascia spinning the big instrument between stanzas and talented husband Jason Beek on drums,.

One of things that makes a musical evening at the Iron Horse pleasant is when the hostess brings you out and lets you pick your seat. At first we were tempted by a seat right next to the front of the stage—and then we decided to move to a four-top and share the table with two other interesting Eilen Jewell fans.

We actually learned quite a bit from the big guy named Bill who had seen the first show, lost his chair, and was given a down in front seat at our table. Bill said this was his 12th time seeing her and our other table mate said her boyfriend was in the Sacred Shakers, Eilen’s gospel band. They had just moved to Ashfield from Bushwick, Brooklyn. We gave her a little bit of advice about finding a job as we both wondered, ‘what the hell was she thinking??”

Eilen Jewell sings with a slight southern cadence. She was born in Idaho and went to college out in Santa Fe, where she began playing music as a busker. A perfect start for a talented musician who was just touring in Europe a few days before this appearance.

I’m always interested in what separates the real deal from the hobbyists…what is it that makes her such a talent? We had stopped into another music venue as a warm up for the night, and found a sparse crowd enjoying the songs of Treefort. They’re a band that’s always gotten great write-ups, yet this is their last gig, I was told, for a year. It’s too tough for their principal man Paul Hansbury to be a father and try to play gigs in faraway towns on Saturday nights.

Eilen Jewell and her band at the Iron Horse, Northampton MA on Nov 19, 2011.
Eilen Jewell and her band at the Iron Horse on Saturday night.

So maybe that’s close to it: having time to devote to the practices, having no distractions that take away from the musical mission, and of course, believing that you are indeed worthy of a $20 cover charge and taking your gig as seriously as the people who laid out the sawbuck to hear you.