Sharon Van Etten

Sharon Van Etten

Jana Hunter

Tue, June 17

Doors: 7:00 pm

9:30 Club

Washington, DC


Sharon Van Etten - (Set time: 9:00 PM)
Sharon Van Etten
For all the attention that was paid to her 2012 break-through Tramp, Sharon Van Etten is an artist with a hunger to turn another corner and to delve deeper, writing from a place of honesty and vulnerability to create a bond with the listener that few contemporary musicians can match. Compelled by a restless spirit, Van Etten is continuously challenging herself. Now, the result is Are We There, a self-produced album of exceptional intimacy, sublime generosity, and immense breadth.

Most musicians are quite happy to leave the production end of things to someone else. It's enough to live your music without taking on the role of producer as well. Yet Van Etten knew it was time to make a record entirely on her terms. The saying goes "fortune favors the bold" and yet this boldness had to be tempered. For this, Van Etten found a kindred spirit in veteran music producer Stewart Lerman. Originally working together on Boardwalk Empire, they gently moved into new roles, rallying around the idea of making a record together in Lerman's studio in New Jersey. Lerman's studio expertise gave Van Etten the freedom to make Are We There the way she imagined. Van Etten also enlisted the individual talents of her band, consisting of Heather Woods Broderick, Doug Keith and Zeke Hutchins, and brought in friends Dave Hartley and Adam Granduciel from The War on Drugs, Jonathan Meiberg (Shearwater), Jana Hunter (Lower Dens), Peter Broderick, Mackenzie Scott (Torres), Stuart Bogie, Jacob C. Morris and Mickey Freeze.

It is clear from the opening chords in the first song, Afraid of Nothing, that we are witnessing a new awareness, a sign of Van Etten in full stride, writing, producing and performing from a place that seems almost mythical, were it not so touchable and real. Always direct, and never shying away even from the most personally painful narratives, Van Etten's songwriting continues to evolve. Many of the songs deal with seemingly impossible decisions, anticipation, and then resolution. She sings of the nature of desire, memory, of being lost, emptiness, of promises and loyalty, fear and change, of healing and the true self, violence and sanctuary, waiting, of silence. The artist who speaks in such a voice is urging us to do something, to take hold and to go deeper. Living in this way, the questions of life remain alive, as close and steady as breathing. Many of the ballads of old are as dark as pitch, and people for whom the issues of life and death were as vivid as flame wrote them. You could turn off the electricity, remove all the instruments and Sharon's voice and words would remain. They connect her to the mystic stratum which flows just beneath the everyday, which is rarely acknowledged as the forces of distraction sweep our attention away.
Jana Hunter - (Set time: 8:00 PM)
Jana Hunter
A dark pop musician hailing originally from northern Texas, Jana Hunter has been writing and recording, if not releasing, songs, for the past 16 years. Hunter's songs, usually featuring many overlapped tracks of her own voice, acoustic and electric guitars, and Hunter's first instrument, the violin, were recorded on tape machines for the better part of 10 years.

Growing up and on in suburbia, Jana Hunter avoided a life of casual but terrifying uniformity partly through constant bedroom recording. The "spooky, twee harmonic weirdness" (Noah Berlatsky; Chicago Reader; 1.29.09) found throughout the sparse, hissing 4-track recordings that Hunter made during that time does its due diligence in reporting on the creepiness of smalltown hiveminds, an autonomous wunderkind maturing secretly in Texas' midst, and the resultant teenage and/or cultural conflict. Hunter, intensely private, raised in a large, religious family, and an orchestral violinist from an early age, followed melodic obsessions and a gift for striking listener's as being near-"haunted" (Chas Bowie, The Portland Mercury, 2.9.06), developing a signature sonic topography.

These elements and a "quietly radiant voice with its own strange, feverish luster" (Matthew Murphy, Pitchfork Media, 11.16, 05) caught the rapt attention of critics and the enthusiastic endorsement of many of the day's most respected musicians upon the 2005 releases of a split LP 12" with Devendra Banhart and Hunter's solo debut, Blank Unstaring Heirs of Doom. She followed with 2007's There's No Home full-length and and EP bearing the title Carrion, disciplined works that showcased "Hunter's ability to write and compose. Perhaps her next step is to expand upon the talent laden throughout this impressive second effort." (Eric Fitzgerald, Prefix Magazine, 5.18.07)

Hunter's newest work (a full-length due out in 2009) is still at times bleak, even grim, but more often rapturous, lush, and resplendent, and a marked refinement of her already considerable melodicism and sensitivity. On record and on stage, with or without her band, it's these things as well as Hunter's Cheshire-cat charisma, imperturbability, and classic-eras way with song that continue to make her a looming specter on the horizon.

"Jana Hunter is...making stark and mysterious songs full of a weird will, as if they’re writing themselves." (Ben Ratliff, New York Times, 4.29, 07)

"Don’t be mistaken: this album moves. More than a few songs are open road, inspire getting on. But on this journey, inspired by both nostalgia and expectation, the hearth fires burn wherever the singer and her harmonizers go, with the unmistakable presence and comfort of the moment...Songs start and leave quickly, but stick sweetly, like the snippet memories of a peyote-fueled campfire all-nighter. They make you rock, in the to-and-fro way, in the ghostly, introspective-but-communal-wanting ways that [Will] Oldham, [Mick] Turner and Windsor [For the Derby] can do so well." (Joel Minor, Daytrotter, 7.12.2007)

Although Hunter's early work was largely influenced by Western pop music (she names Beck's One Foot In the Grave, the Velvet Underground's ...& Nico as two notable influences), because of her association with Banhart and other friend musicians, Hunter's records were and have largely remained classified as that of a western folk musician. Hunter herself has said that she "didn't know shit about folk until I was well into my 20's" and that her music not only has little to do with folk, but also in large part (with the exception of some pieces on the split record) doesn't even so much as merit an association with folk music.

Hunter began an extensive touring schedule in 2005, and has to date played around the United States, Canada, and western and northern Europe multiple times. Hunter is currently based in Baltimore, Maryland.
Venue Information:
9:30 Club
815 V St. NW
Washington, DC, 20001