Raised in Charlevoix, Jetty Rae brings her musical passion to northern Michigan this month to share her holiday songs and “real life” struggles” with her “amazing” fans. (Story, videos)
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Jetty Rae has long maintained a nomadic lifestyle, crisscrossing North America in a renovated Airstream trailer with her family.
But this week, she feels like she’s coming home to northern Michigan.
After all, the singer-songwriter grew up in Charlevoix and attended high school there, performing in the Ragamuffins theater group that her mother launched and taking her first stabs at music and songwriting.
Since then, the 30-year-old artist whose music has been described as soulful, sultry, fiery, bluesy and haunting indie-folk/rock has released seven solo recordings as well as two albums with the Pen Pals folk duo, won numerous awards (CMJ Music Showcase, Best of Northern Michigan, OurStage.com Music Competition, Lilith Fair Talent Search), toured from Hawaii to Mexico to China to Ann Arbor, and generally shared her music with her “amazing” fans.
She’s back in northern Michigan to play a “Home for the Holidays” show with the Younce Guitar Duo at 7 p.m. Saturday at Historic Elk Rapids Town Hall in Elk Rapids, followed by “a live radio show” taping on Dec. 22 in front of an audience in Calumet in the Upper Peninsula.
“I grew up in a very artist-friendly home and I was always encouraged to use the gifts and passions I had to touch others,” said Jetty Rae (aka Brittni Stewart, who uses the name of her paternal grandmother as a stage moniker).
SPECIAL MICHIGAN SHOWS WITH A HOLIDAY THEME
“Writing and music have been a part of my life since adolescence, and after graduating high school, I started taking these passions more seriously. Eventually, I wrote my first record and I’ve been on this path ever since.”
The Michigan shows shape us as “so special,” she said, because she’s back in her home state and because it’s a rare opportunity to play songs from the Christmas EP, “More Than December,” she released in 2014.
“I’m bringing what I always bring to my live shows: scary-close honesty, laughter and some tales from the road,” she said. “Audiences will get to hear songs from my Christmas EP which, for obvious reasons, I don’t play live much. This time of year is hard on a lot of us, and I’m hoping to bring some hope and understanding to everyone who comes.”
She noted the Elk Rapids show will feature Traverse City’s Younce Guitar Duo, who are “phenomenal musicians. I’m hoping I can cajole them into playing a few songs with me.” Tickets — $17.50 adults, $10 students — available online here.
The following week, on Dec. 22, she’ll tape two shows back to back for “The Red Jacket Jamboree” – an old-time radio variety show – in The Calumet Theatre in the Keweenaw Peninsula, sharing songs from her latest album, “Can’t Curse the Free,” as well as some holiday tunes. Details online here. (Listen to “Can’t Curse the Free” below.)
‘WHERE WE PARK OUR AIRSTREAM, THAT’S HOME’
Jetty Rae and her husband juggle all this touring while raising two toddlers, with another baby on the way.
“I’m not based anywhere currently,” conceded Jetty Rae, a favorite of another hard-touring Michigan act, The Accidentals.
“Basically, where we park our Airstream, that’s home. Somedays, I call Mexico home; other months, it’s Florida or Arizona. The inspiration is plenty, and I love the fact that I can now go to pockets of my fans all over the U.S. and play music for them in their homes and favorite venues without having to organize around a tight budget and strict schedule.
“The freedom this lifestyle affords me is really awesome. … I get the best of both worlds – being able to play wherever I’m at and still get to sleep in my own bed and provide a home life for my kids.”
So, she said she intends to “stay the course” and hopes to release another Pen Pals project (with songwriter Heath McNease) in 2018 and work on her second children’s lullaby album. (Watch videos of Jetty Rae and Pen Pals below.)
“I’m taking my time with my next full-time solo project,” she said, noting her father passed away last year and she’s still “processing all of the grief. I know the songs will come, but I’m at the stage where nothing seems adequate.
“My fans are amazing. I think most of them stick around because they know me as a person and they happen to like my music as well. I try to be as authentic with my professional life as my real life, and in exchange, there’s a lot of real life happening and sharing of struggles.”
LISTEN: Jetty Rae, “Can’t Curse the Free”
VIDEO: Jetty Rae, “Climbing Clouds”
VIDEO: Pen Pals (Heath McNease and Jetty Rae)
Copyright 2017, Spins on Music LLC