What we love about Jonatha Brooke…


Slight Review

Jonatha Brooke Trio

March 18, 2018 7:30 p.m.

The Ark

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Date night

What we love about

Jonatha Brooke…

She creates on a variety of instruments. When we saw her last night, she played songs on the guitar, on the piano, on the kalimba, and on the mandolin. What this means to me is that she is actually doing what she said she does, which is uses whatever is available to her to create a song. (After seeing her in action, I can tell that she is a songwriter above all else, which leads me to believe that this is currently my favorite variety of artists.) (See Gearfest 2017 post; see Gab & Jam Episode 1)

She re-tunes her guitar between songs. This is the ultimate “artist” thing to do. To have allowed yourself to slip between the cracks of craft in service of your creative muse is what it means to be authentic and liberated. It was such a fascinating process to see her do this that I made sure to capture that as part of the video montage.

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She is constantly relating to her audience. We felt less like we were at a concert and more like we were guests at a really musical party. She would stop to give commentary on song origins. She would stop to ask questions. She would stop to tell jokes. None of it seemed orchestrated; it all seemed to flow from the good vibes she was receiving from her audience.

She has quite a mix of material. Though there are identifiable threads to many of her songs—a few dissonant chords here, there, and the other; a melody that climbs on the bridge between the verse and the chorus—she has a few different expressions of “her” song that it is enough to keep us engaged. (—After a long day of running around, it is a little harder to keep our attention during an evening concert.) Even when we suspected there would be a lull in the set, she was able to pull us back in by either drawing on a new instrument, or by changing the mood between songs with a joke, or by changing the tempo slightly. A combination of this kept us fully engaged, while we—again—laughed and cried to her stories and songs. Also, the fact that her songs come from various places and projects—her play “My Mother has 4 Noses,” as well as her albums 20 years ago, as well as her Woodie Guthrie project, as well as…. –You get the picture. She has had such a meandering career that her musical chain has a variety of expressions as a result of her many outlets. (—She mentioned, at Sweetwater, that she dances too, so who knows what will spring from that….)

She sings out her sadness, but seems to be living her joy. Let me explain. Even she freely admitted last night that all of her songs deal with some form of sadness expressed. She cracked a few jokes about that along the way. However, her demeanor and delivery and interactions with the audience and her bandmate, Sean Driscoll, were quite jovial, which relieved the heaviness that may have been summoned by her songs.

As we’ve said repeatedly—see our previous posts on Ms. Brooke—we are applaud not only her finished art, but her processes as well. Therefore, there was no doubt that we were going to see her live and, now, there is no doubt that she made our date night super special, since we got to date and watch her create. She is our inspiration to keep on our path.

More Ways to Enjoy Jonatha:

Do you have anybody that inspires you

to live your best creative life?

We’d like to hear about it. Drop us a comment below.

Until next time, here's wishing you love, peace, and chicken grease!

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