NXNE Review: Jess Hill, June 15, Painted Lady

Toronto – Ahhh NXNE, my favourite Toronto festival for pure random music discovery. Like CMW, it’s one of those festivals that I enjoy planning my itinerary on the fly. I love to choose a venue or an act to focus my night on, and then largely cast myself to the wind and see where I end up. This year found me at the Painted Lady for opening night.

I arrived for Vancouver-based Jess Hill, a singer-songwriter with a country & blues feel. Her set started with some laid-back tunes. While enjoyable, from the back of the room, her voice sounded muted, maybe even a little mousey. I couldn’t have been farther from the truth. I can only surmise that like a church pipe organ, Jess’ voice just needed some warm up time before she could let loose.

“[talking about a song she wrote for her dad] … My dad complains about two things: that I don’t play this song enough, and that I talk too much” – Jess Hill

About twenty minutes into the set, it became very clear to me that this young lady had an impressive set of pipes. She could growl like June Carter (of Johnny Cash fame), and I mean that in the best possible way. Her stage banter was cute, if a little rambling, but she also displayed some tongue-in-cheek self-awareness. It was friendly, fun, and great way to open the festival.

Posted on by Mark in Concerts, North By Northeast