Good Cop and Bad Cop Consider Jenifer Jackson’s Sunday Show at the Rockwood
Good Cop: I’ve got a secret.
Bad Cop: I don’t trust this. Sounds like a setup.
Good Cop: OK, I’ll just say it. Between you and me and the boss at this blog, we went to a lot more concerts this summer than anyone might realize. Like, A LOT. Dozens. And I’m, um, just guessing, if you follow my drift, that people who follow this blog will be hearing more about how awesome this summer was in the weeks to come.
Bad Cop: Sweet nostalgia. Is it time for 2014 nostalgia already?
Good Cop: C’mon, don’t be such a cynic. After all, think of how many amazing shows we saw this year. Jenifer Jackson, twice, with a completely different band both times! And she’s playing again, at the small room at the Rockwood this Sunday, October 5 at 8, and we’re going. Are you psyched or what?
Bad Cop: More or less. I’ve got a party to go to before then so by the time I get there I’m gonna be toasted. Which is pretty much the only way I can deal with this venue. But that’s another story. I can’t decide which Jenifer Jackson show I liked more: the one back in March with the vibraphone, or the one with Oren Bloedow on lead guitar in July.
Good Cop: I would think that you would have preferred the July show since that was closer to what Jenifer had for a lineup when you used to go see her: Oren, and Jason Mercer on bass, Greg on drums and Matt Kanelos on piano. Just for the record, how many times have you seen Jenifer play?
Bad Cop: To copy what you said about shows this summer: dozens. If Jenifer had only hung in there for a couple more years, she could have made it work in New York. These days, you have to play New York like a tour: maybe you do some Lower East Side or East Village gig that whoever’s left in those neighborhoods can get to. Then you take it on the road. Inwood. Park Slope. Williamsburg. Red Hook. You look for a place that has a captive audience and you book it. And you might catch a handful of diehards from other parts of town who make it out to some of those shows. And that’s how you build a career playing music in New York in 2014. You can’t expect people to come to you when everybody has their local, where it’s usually cheaper than where you’re playing. You have to bring the music to the people.
Good Cop: Yeah, but she’s got a career playing music for a living in Austin. That, and teaching Italian.
Bad Cop: True. And she’s out of touch with the zeitgeist that’s taken over so much of this city. Jenifer’s music is fun, and intricate, so full of joy and snazzy interplay and musical conversations. Rock tunesmithing, jazz values. Completely out of touch with Bushwick awkwardness and ineptitude.
Good Cop: I know you miss her.
Bad Cop: I miss a lot of things. But it will be good to see her again. This last time she played, you got there on time but I was late. What did I miss?
Good Cop: A very warm and friendly TX Sunrise – that’s the title track from her latest album…
Bad Cop:…and then All Around, right? My favorite song on the new album, and I missed it.
Good Cop: I know we disagree on the meaning of that song. You think it’s a despair song and I think that Jenifer, being a strong person, wouldn’t ever write a despair song: she always finds something positive, something hopeful to focus on. Although I do love the bittersweet, windswept seaside ambience that song has.
Bad Cop: What did she do after that? A new one?
Good Cop: Yeah, a slowburning country waltz. Only in Dreams, maybe that’s what it’s called? You remember, some nice, spare C&W leads from Oren and slip-key piano from Matt? And the same on the honkytonk number after that?
Bad Cop: Barely. My memory only goes back so far. Medical marijuana, you know.
Good Cop: Good grief. You don’t remember After the Fall?
Bad Cop: Omigod, you’re right. One of the most unselfconsciously beautiful, sad songs ever written. “Love is an ocean, love is a stone, love is a wish that you make on your own, if all of these ghosts would just leave me alone, I know that I could be free.” Lots of piano and jangly guitar on that one. Maybe the best single song I’ve seen anybody play this year.
Good Cop: I’m with you on that one. And then she did We Will Be Together…
Bad Cop: A real heartbreaker from 2002 or so. She recorded it later. Sad slash hopeful slash hopeless lyric – I know we disagree – over Ticket to Ride rock. I know you don’t like it when I get nostalgic for that time – and I guess you must have your own nostalgia for whatever you were up to – but this kills me. And then she did Whole Wide World, one of the bossa-psych tunes from Slowly Bright, her second album, the one that floored me the first time around.
Good Cop: It’s nice to be able ro relive these songs, isn’t it?
Bad Cop: No it’s not. I thought at the time that I’d be able to listen back to all this stuff in ten years and find reassurance that I was in the right place at the right time and it’s all turned out wrong. None of the people who were doing this stuff or the places they were doing it at are left. And that’s a crime. Gentrification kills. Ask Eric Garner. And as much as Jenifer Jackson was such an important part of an incredibly vital New York music scene, she had to go to to Texas to really kick her career into high gear. Think about that for a minute.