Interview by Scott Preston
Jennie Arnau makes no apologies for her uniquely brazen brand of New York-nurtured grassroots rock. It’s a sly underground sound that’s born of urban grit and rowdy southern sensibilities and it perfectly suits this native South Carolina singer with the bluesy, bold and bittersweet voice.
It’s not a voice that has gone unnoticed either – Chuck Eddy of the Village Voice wrote that Jennie is capable of “a husky uplift and rhythmic wallop rarely heard in the female-folkie field” while Singer magazine praised Arnau’s ability to “pierce your heart one moment, then turn right around and calm your spirit the next.” (from jenniearnau.com)
Cincy Groove: What made you move from South Carolina to New York?
Jennie Arnau: I always wanted to move up to New York or out to L.A. I ended up going to New York and I just thought it would be a good place to be because of the music business. Its taken a while to get everything going.
Cincy Groove: Do you remember the first place you played when you got to New York?
Jennie Arnau: When I first got to New York I played at a place called The Garage. The place was literally a garage. The place was an old filling station on the lower east side. A bunch of us just decided we would have a night where we would buy a keg and put it in the back of the filling station and just play some music.
Cincy Groove: I know your latest cd “Mt Pleasant” came out last year. Are you working on any new projects?
Jennie Arnau: Yeah, Mt Pleasant came out about a year ago. We are getting ready to go back into the studio. We are thinking in June I will go down to Nashville where Trina Shoemaker lives. Trina will work with me on this next cd as well. I will use my band and there will probably be a couple songs where I might bring some people in. I like to do that because it gives the cd a different vibe.
Cincy Groove: Who do you consider some of your influences?
Jennie Arnau: It depends. I like Neil Young, Lucinda Williams, Ani DiFranco, Johnny Cash. I grew up in South Carolina, so I listened to a lot of country also. Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn were played on the radio a lot. Then there were the southern rockers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, ZZ Top, Allman Bros. My brother listened to Van Halen a lot, so I’m sure I could throw them in there too.
Cincy Groove: Did you have fun at South by Southwest (SXSW) ?
Jennie Arnau: I love SXSW. I love Austin and I love the feel of South By Southwest. The town itself is great and the people are very friendly and supportive. I haven’t played down in Austin other than SXSW, but I would like to go down and perform there when the festival isn’t going on to see what the vibe is like.
Cincy Groove: Have there been any strange things have you seen on the road or something that has just amazed you?
Jennie Arnau: Down in Austin, TX there is a place called the Enchanted Forest. Its kind of hard to find, but we finally got directions. You drive down this road and you come up on this hippie house. Its not really a house but one of those hot dog stands. I’m not sure how to describe the building but it had lights up and painted peace signs everywhere. Its about a 1 mile square piece of forest where all these artists have built this community. Out in the middle of this forest is a complete stage setup with electricity and everything. It was a great gig and a lot of fun.
Upcoming Jennie Arnau tour dates:
for complete show details visit http://www.jenniearnau.com
May 7th Fontana’s New York City
June 8th Wakarusa Lawrence, KS
June 20 – 22nd Wave Gathering Asbury Park, NJ
June 27th Lazy River Music Festival South Elgin, IL
July 3rd Union square Park – New York, NY
July 23th Garden Stage Martin’s Roanoke, VA
July 24th Garden Stage Floyd Fest Floyd, VA
July 25th Garden Stage Floyd Fest Floyd, VA
July 31 – August 3rd Dunegrass Festival Empire, MI