The local roots rocker Janine Wilson’s recently released third album Wakin’ Up adds a guitar-pop flavor to her songwriting: Often on the new disc, she and her band come across like a more tradition-minded Pretenders, an approach that helps accentuate her deep, warm vocals. Janine Wilson and her band are performing tomorrow at the city of Hyattsville’s 124th Anniversary party in Magruder Park following an 11 a.m. parade. Wilson responded via e-mail to some questions.
Washington City Paper: How did South by Southwest go this year?
Janine Wilson: SXSW was a great time this year. I had five non-SXSW showcases around town and they all went swimmingly. My favorite was for GoGirls—-a community of independent women artists—-they were also webcasting the showcase and during our set I was told some folks from Argentina were watching and enjoying our music. Very cool. I ran into Matthew McConaughey at Antone’s and slid him a copy of the new CD. I absolutely believe “Wakin’ Up in Texas” should be in a Sandra Bullock movie so now I’m one step closer… While I was leaving the bathroom at Guerro’s (great Margueritas!) I saw Val Kilmer—-stars everywhere!
WCP: Did you make any business connections or was it just a fun time in front of an appreciative crowd?
JW: I absolutely made contacts—-new and old—-that’s part of the reason to be there! It’s a great way to schmooze although there is so much going on it can be a bit daunting. We did have appreciative crowds, too.
WCP: Did you grow up singing? Learn in church or school or shower or elsewhere or later in life with assistance from others?
JW: I did grow up singing in musicals in school, a little church choir, lots of records and radio. I have studied with some great vocalists as well—-Pam Bricker and Lisa Rich here in D.C. and Katie Agresta in NYC.
WCP: How did you and Max Evans meet and start working together?
JW: Max and I met while I was working at Counts Western Store that used to be on Wisconsin Avenue near Tenley Circle. Mr. and Mrs. Counts used to hang with the likes of Patsy Cline and Roy Clark so they had lots of good stories. Max would stop in before his guitar lesson across the street so we became friends. He played in a group called the Thangs here in D.C. and then moved on to Austin. He moved between NYC and Austin for a few years and when I started working on my first album in Austin, I tracked him down in NYC but he was moving back to Austin a week or two before I was going to be there so that worked out perfectly. When he moved back to the D.C. area we started to perform and write together. Nice full circle.
WCP: You’ve shifted over the years from blues rock to Americana and guitar-pop—how do you explain this transformation if you think that description is accurate?
JW: I have been down a musical road of sorts—-I was performing rockabilly at the very beginning, then moved on to blues and now roots-rock/Americana/AAA whatever you wanna call it—-I’m still trying to figure that one out exactly. It seems these days you have to be extremely pigeon-holed. It was just my natural progression not so much a conscious decision but just my personal musical journey.
WCP: Who is in your current band? Can you tell me a little about them and how you started working with them?
JW: My current band is Max, Tommy Hannigan on bass, and Clark Matthews on drums. Both of them are part of the cream of D.C. musicians and I’m very fortunate to be playing with them. Clark played with Tom Principato for many years and Tommy with the Shambells, Catfish Hodge Band, and various bands in Austin and Dallas, Texas. On keys we sometimes have Mookie Siegel (David Nelson Band and formerly Donna Jean and the Tricksters) or Brian Simms (Junkyard Saints). For the CD we used New York guys who were absolutely fantastic.
WCP: Are your lyrics autobiographical or a combination of the personal and the fictional and things you’ve heard from others? Or other?
HW: My lyrics are mostly autobiographical but also observations of others and life. I also get ideas from anything from overhearing conversations to movies/TV and yes, my own imagination!
WCP: What summer local and national gig plans do you have?
JW: We have a busy calendar with many summer concerts series and festivals and we’ll be adding more as we go along. The website is kept up to date so that will give you more info should you need it. As of right now I’m planning a CD release in NYC (no date as of yet) and my hometown of Columbus, Ohio, (some high school classmates started a “Bring the Janine Wilson Band to Ohio” page!). I do want to tour more but nothing immediately on the books.
Janine Wilson & band performing for free Saturday April 24 at noon at Magruder Park, 3911 Hamilton Street, Hyattsville, MD. (301) 985-5020