Teen bluegrass sensation releases debut CD

Tuesday, June 16, 2009 at 12:00am
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Teen bluegrass sensation Sarah Jarosz will celebrate her debut album release with a show at the Station Inn Tuesday night.

Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers aren’t the only young musicians making hit records and enjoying the spotlight these days.

Multi-instrumental ace and bluegrass sensation Sarah Jarosz hadn’t even graduated from high school when she electrified thousands of observers at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in 2007.

Among those captivated was Sugar Hill Vice President of A&R Gary Paczosa, who promptly invited Jarosz to Nashville, and gave her the opportunity to make some demos in the label’s studio. Paczosa eventually produced what would become her debut album.

Now, that disc, Song Up In Her Head has just been released, and she’ll make her first appearance at the Station Inn as a headliner Tuesday night during a CD release party that will feature her performing with instrumental partners bassist Samson Grisman and fiddler Alex Hargreaves.

“I’ve been to the Station Inn before and seen some great shows there, but it’s a bit different being a headliner,” Jarosz admitted. “When you know about the tradition there and the incredible musicians that have always played there, you can get a bit intimidated. But there’s no better place in the country for me to have a CD release party.”

Song Up In Her Head spotlights both Jarosz’s still developing but already formidable voice and her skills on mandolin, guitar and clawhammer banjo. A huge fan of old-time music, Jarosz has been careful to blend old and new influences. You can hear bits of folk and blues inflection in her leads, while there’s less emphasis on flash and speed than melody and flow in her playing and songwriting.

She’s backed by many of the greatest soloists in bluegrass, folk and country music, among them Chris Thile, Darrell Scott, Mark Schatz, Mike Marshall and Sarah Siskind.

“I enjoy so many styles that I wanted to make sure all these things were reflected in the songs,” Jarosz said. “For me, it wasn’t just a thing of trying to make sure that the music is authentic. I wanted to get a flavor of both traditional things and newer sounds because I grew up being a fan of many types of music, especially the old-time songs. Originality is the most important quality to me as a composer, and as a performer.”

Jarsoz has been in the spotlight so many years it’s easy to forget she just recently turned 18. A Texas native (Wimberley is her home town), Jarosz was one of five teens that played with Earl Scruggs and Ricky Skaggs on ABC’s 2005 telecast of the CMA Music Festival. Before that Jarosz played in the Austin Mandolin Orchestra, attended the Mandolin Symposium at the University of California at Santa Cruz for two years, and appeared at a host of bluegrass festivals, including being the special guest of Tim O’Brien at the Rice Festival in Fischer, Texas.

“I was initially attracted to the mandolin as young girl by the beauty of the instrument in a lot of the old-time songs I was listening to,” Jarosz said. “It’s both a percussive and melodic instrument, and there are so many things you can do in a song with the mandolin. A good friend of mine introduced me to the clawhammer banjo, and it’s become a favorite of mine for particular melodies. There are other times when I’ll do a lot of writing on the guitar, and play almost nothing but guitar until there are other things that I want to do, and then I’ll switch over to another instrument.”

Besides preparing for other dates and festival shows this summer, Jarosz will be making a major lifestyle change this fall. After being accepted into both the prestigious Berklee School of Music and New England Conservatory in Boston, she’ll head to the Conservatory this fall.

“I’ve lived in Texas my entire life, so it will be big change moving to New England,” Jarosz said. “But I really want to learn more about and continue my education and make some new friends, so going to the Conservatory seems a good way to accomplish all those goals and continue my career.”

What: Bluegrass sensation Sarah Jarosz’s CD release party for her Sugar Hill debut Song Up In Her Head
When: 9:30 p.m. Tuesday
Where: The Station Inn, 402 12th Ave. S.
Cost: $10
Info: 255-3307, stationinn.com