Carl Perkins is educating me in the ways of rock ‘n roll from the speakers in my studio, and the summer air is slightly claustrophobic in our little Indiana farmhouse. I’ve got a fresh cup of wake-up juice, and I can’t wait to tell you what I’ve schemed up…
I’ve done a lot of contemplation lately about what I want to be known for – what kind of person people will remember me as when my time above the ground has ended.
One of the things I have always wanted to do is to help the people in my life. As a full grown man, I am very fortunate to be surrounded by a large community of incredibly creative people, the vast majority of which are very diligent and hard working – and more often than not, are paying a huge price financially to create something wonderful in the world for others.
I have decided that one of the best things I can do is to connect them to you – I will do my best to describe who they are, what they do that is remarkable, and let you decide if their work touches you.
The first artist I have chosen to present to you is my friend, Jess Strantz.
Jess started playing music at the age of three, began formal training on the piano at age six, and acquired her first guitar at age thirteen. She also sang in choirs and had some formal vocal training along the way.
She joined a couple of groups as a teenager before forming her first band, The Rendition, which closed it’s doors mid 2012.
For the avid music fan, you may be thinking that none of this sounds particularly special – talented kid takes piano, writes some songs, bla-bla-blah. You’d be right.
But her current project, Von Strantz, is something quite extraordinary.
In its full fledged form, Von Strantz is a four-piece string section mashed up with an indie-rock band, and turbo-charged by Jess’s vocals, which live somewhere between Karin Bergquist (Over The Rhine) and Susan Tedeschi (The Tedeschi-Trucks Band).
Listening to them live is a stunning, overwhelming experience that on a good night will leave tears in your eyes and your jaw on the floor.
Beyond the music, something else is afoot as well. Von Strantz is Jess’s vision of a family of musicians, where young talent becomes a part of something, grows, and becomes empowered to move out on their own strength at some point.
In a recent conversation Jess intimated to me that her previous projects had been much more about her building her own little musical kingdom – but that after a car accident left her unable to play music at all for a period of time, she began to see a different way forward that was much less about her, and much more about helping other musicians grow.
That has been a huge inspiration to me, and I appreciate Jess and her vision for Von Strantz. Their presence and drive, reminds me that the real secret sauce in great art is so much more than just the ability to execute your craft technically. It has to mean something, and it has to touch people.
Today is the last day of their Indie Go Go campaign, and I strongly urge you to check out their music, and make a contribution if you believe in the idea of Von Strantz.
EDITOR’s NOTE: Even though the Von Strantz Indiegogo campaign has ended, you can still listen and pick up current and future Von Strantz recordings on their Bandcamp store.