LONG TIME TOURING BAND MEMBER J'ANNA JACOBY TALKS EXCLUSIVELY TO THE RSFC...

 

So, it’s Day One of rehearsals for the upcomingtour. Talk us through a typical first session.

 

It’s always different. Since it hasn’t happened yet, Idon’t know how this one is going to be. I can say for sure that there will be
lots of hugging and saying of hello’s since it’s been a while since we’ve allseen each other…and then we’ll get down to business and start to work out thearrangements. We will probably rehearse for a few hours (just the band) and thenRod will come in later after we’ve had a chance to work things out.

 

Do you and the girls haveany say on your stage outfits?

 

Not really. Sometimes we get some guidelines of colour schemes or generalvibe, but when we all have coordinated outfits, it has been discussed and thought out by Rod and his stylist.

 

On your first tour with Rod,he included "Faith Of The Heart" which you were quoted as saying "you loved".Why was it dropped so quickly from the set? Was it all Rod’s idea or what wasthe deciding factor?

 

Wow! That was a long time ago (11 years ago). I have no memory of why it was dropped. I still remember really enjoying that song,however.

 

Are there any songs that have been seriously rehearsed with a view to being included in the live set andthen pulled at the last minute?

 

On the tour we did in the round in 2007 I think we had worked out Gasoline Alley pretty nicely and we even played it a few times live,but for some reason it didn’t stay on the set list. My guess is that it wasn’t working with the flow of the show and we couldn’t find the right place for it in the set list.

 

You list baking as one of your likes. Got a signature dish?

 

Where and when did I list that information? Yes, I have always been more of a baker than a cook. I baked 4 pumpkin pies over the course of this last holiday season…I started baking this pie as my American contribution to the holiday parties I’ve been enjoying while living in the UK…since pumpkin pie with ice cream is a typical dessert for Thanksgiving in the U.S. and I love it so much. Pumpkin pie is always sweet and meant for dessert, by the way. It’s been hard to find the tinned pumpkin puree in the UK, however, so I started learning how to make it from actual pumpkin! Who would havethought! All my life I thought pumpkin came from a tin. LOL.

 

Beatles or Stones?

 

The Who! (Just saw them do Quadrophenia at the Albert Hall for the Teenage Cancer Trust and was blown away. Loved it!) Seriously, I love both the Beatles and the Stones, but I’m going to have to say Beatles if I had to make a choice.

 

Songbook or Soulbook?

 

Songbook…I’m the daughter of jazz musicians. I grew up listening to, learning and loving all those standards. However, that  doesn’ttake away from the fact that I LOVE all the rockin’ gritty Faces recordings equally as much.

 

Clive Davis Pre Grammy Party or The Big Weekend?

 

That’s easy: The Big Weekend….earns more for charity.

 

What s Rod like during rehearsals? Funny, demanding/strict, footloose and fancy-free?

 

All of the above and more!

 

What did you think, when Rodsung "J anna I wished I d never seen your face" for the first time?

>

I can’t remember. I think I was surprised that he was including me in singing that line with him. That’s the fun of being on stage with Rod is that there is always spontaneity and you just have to stay on your toes for new things to happen.

 

What is your favorite Rod Song?

 

There are so many. I love The Faces, Flying, Miss Judy’s Farm (good gritty and dirty), Cut Across Shorty (cool rustic fiddle solo), You Wear It Well, Tomorrow Is A Long Time, I’m Losing You, Forever Young, Tom Traubert’s Blues

 

What is your favorite Song generally?

 

A Case of You – Joni Mitchell on the album Blue

 

What kind of Music does your Band play?

 

Rock, leaning in the folk direction

 

What does your Band Name "Fox Force Five" refer to?

 

Great question, however it wouldn’t be any fun if I just told you. It’s a very obscure reference from a movie. Why don’t we have a contest and see who can name the movie and we’ll figure out a prize for the winner.

 

I don't know anything of J'Anna's origins but I'd be curious to know what, if any, connection she has with Devon and why she chose Devon to buy a house (if she did!).

 

Ha ha, that’s funny that you remember that Rod made an announcement about that at the show in Plymouth last year. The answer is that my husband Steve has been going to Salcombe in Devon with his family for many years. A few years ago (and a few years before we met) he bought a house in Salcombe. We enjoy going there when we can find the time to get away. On the day of the show in Plymouth last year Rod was amused to find out that we had this house there because one of our friends came up to him in a coffee shop that day and said "I know your fiddler and she has a house here in Salcombe." Just before the show, Rod called me to his dressing room to find out if it was true that we had a house there and I said, yes, it is true.

 

What instrument do you enjoy playing most?

 

Well, I feel the most comfortable playing the violin because I’ve studied and practiced it all of my life. It is like a 3rd arm for me. However, I have the most fun-playing mandolin becauseit is a newer adventure for me and it’s a little more freeing.

 

And what is your favorite piece of music played on the violin one that lifts your spirits if you are feeling low?

 

Anything by Mozart. And the Bach unaccompanied sonatas and partitas.

 

How long has J'Anna played in Rod's band?

 

I was hired in January 1999 and my first show was in Nashville, TN in February.

 

I can see how talented J'Anna is but how did she get an interview/job with Rod?

 

A music colleague of mine in Los Angeles recommended me to Carmine Rojas (then the music director). Carmine called me in early January 1999 to see if I wanted to audition. They were looking for someone who could play several instruments (as in fiddle/violin, mandolin and guitar). Of course I said I would love to audition and the rest is history!

 

Does rod take any input from the current band and has she given her advice on certain songs to him?

 

Sometimes he asks our opinion on certain things or arrangements, but in general he knows exactly what he wants. He has excellent instincts and a great ear and eye for detail. It’s really fun working with someone who knows what they want.

 

If the faces reformed with Rod fronting the band, would you like to be on stage with the guy's playing Mandolin to Maggie May...??

 

In a heartbeat!

 

How much notice do you get that a tour is imminent and as to what songs will be played?

 

1-4 months.

 

I would like to ask J'Anna what her favorite Rod genre or decade is?

 

1970s and 2000s (standards)

 

Please name a song that Rod has recorded, but never performed live with you as a band member, that you wishhe would?

 

Mandolin Wind

 

Are the reasons behind your individual choice, a song you personally like or a song that, as a musician, you would enjoy playing?

 

Rod usually puts the set list together so that it has a certain flow. He re-works the order and choices until it feels just right.

 

I would like to know what your favourite moment at the Big Weekend was and why ?? And will you come back next year and play for us?

It depends on our tour schedule, but if I were available, I’d be happy to come again to the Big Weeekend next year.

 

My question to you is rod always say,s wait till we get to Glasgow to the band when on tour what is islike for you and the rest of the band to play in front of 68,000 mad or drunken Scots which concert is you most memorial and why?

 

Yes, Glasgow is always a great place to play. Even when we play for smaller crowds (like 10,000 instead of 68,000), it is always very special there.
Especially when we play Purple Heather.

 

Is Rod as tight as people say? I once read a report the band travel 2nd class on aircraft.

 

Not true! We are treated very well and very generously.

 

What venue would you like to play that you haven’t?

I can’t think of any. I’ve played all my favorites. My favorite venue is the Royal Albert Hall. I also love Radio City Music Hall in NYC and the Hollywood Bowl will be forever special in my heart for many reasons: 1) the Beatles played there, 2) my dad saw me play there with Rod in 2004 and 3) I am and always willbe proud to call myself a California girl.

 

Inverness will you and the rest of the band take time out to visit the area?

 

I hope so!…if time permits.

 

Did you have to abdicate of many things in your life to follow Rod in his concerts around the world?

 

Sometimes, but not too often. In the last 11 years there have been three big
things I’ve had to miss because of touring and concert conflicts. One of them
was my mom’s retirement festivities in June 2002. She was very understanding and
she even liked telling her friends that I was not able to be there because I
needed to play for the Queen with Rod on her Golden Jubilee celebration concert
at Buckingham Palace. My mother was very understanding. I’ve also had to miss
two very close friends’ weddings because of tour conflicts. This coming summer I
will miss the graduations of both my stepchildren because their graduations both
fall on concert dates. Missing these types of family events are my only regrets
when it comes to having this type of career. Everyone is always very
understanding. I’ve made it a personal goal that if I can ever get to an
important life event for anyone close to me (wedding, graduation, retirement or
funeral) I do my very best to be there because those are the most important
moments to share with your friends and family

 

Marmite - Love it or Hate it?

 

Like it

 

Mandolin or Violin?

 

Mandolin for fun. Violin for expertise.

 

Coronation St or Eastenders?

 

Sorry, I haven’t immersed myself in English popular culture to quite that extent yet. While I’m familiar with the shows, I’ve never seen either. I’m moreof a Fast Show, Blackbooks, Little Britain, Bellamy’s People kind of gal.

 

Coffee or Tea?

 

Coffee!!!

 

Spring, Summer, Autumn or Winter?

 

Summer Summer Summer. I hate the cold!

 

London or Los Angeles?

 

Los Angeles! I’m a California girl, through and through. I miss my friends there very much.

Most embarrassing moment on stage?

 

Not telling!

 

Most memorable concert?

 

Edinburgh Castle summer 2002, Hollywood Bowl Aug. 2004, Hampden Park
re-opening July 1999. Royal Albert Hall Oct. 2004. Hawkes Bay winery 2005 in New
Zealand 35,000 people on a hillside who had been drinking all day long…great
sing-alongs. Glastonbury July 2002. So many more. It’s been a great ride.

 

Who has been the biggest influence in your life?

 

My father, without a doubt. After that, my husband Steve. Rod has also been a big influence, teacher and mentor to me.

 

The Black Watch - can you give us a brief history of the band?

 

The Black Watch was what used to be known as an alternative rock band, or "indie" band that I was a member of from about 1990 to 1999. I learned so much about recording, playing in a band and writing and arranging songs from the experience. I also learned what it was like to be in a struggling band, hauling and lifting your own gear, driving all night in the snow in a van with 3 other guys and sharing one hotel room with 4 people. Being a member of the band was a fantastic training ground. I met John Fredrick in late 1989 and he was enamored with all the Brit Pop bands of the time introduced me to a great array of music I had never heard before with my classical, jazz and folk training. We often sounded like a mix of The Cure and My Bloody Valentine and a little bit of the Waterboys…to name a few that I can remember. John is a college professor and very literary and wrote lots of songs and I added my violin and electric guitar and vocals to make a unique sound. I really
found it freeing to play electric violin in a more aggressive way than I had in other genres. The Black Watch is still recording today. They started out in Santa Barbara several years before I joined in 1990 and I left the band around the time I started working with Rod in 1999.

 

Would you ever consider recording a 'solo' album?

 

I think about it all the time and I’m always flattered by the requests I get to put one out. Trouble is, I’m having trouble deciding what sort of direction to go. But one day, I will surprise you and put something out. I’m sort of a snail when it comes to creative ideas. I often need strong, enthusiastic, powerful people around me to get cracking.

 

I was wondering what your musical background is made up of,and what your preferences are with regards to what inspired you to become player you are today. Also are there any venues that are particular favourites of yours(worldwide). Also does Rod supply the Band with free turkey's at Christmas...!

 

Love your questions. It was great to play music with you at Blackpool. There is such a great spirit and warmness with you and your band. I really enjoyed myself and enjoyed getting to meet you as well. As I mentioned above, both my parents are accomplished musicians and were especially fond of jazz as well as very good jazz musicians themselves, although my dad had a great classical background and saw to it that I learned and studied classical violin. But I had some very fortunate success with folk music in my teenage years and won several national fiddling contests in the U.S. MY background is very diverse and I appreciate so many different kinds of music, but pop music speaks to me the most.

 

From your very beginning time performing with Rod, your stage persona has been one of somewhat shyness until Rod highlights you during one of the songs and you completely open up. This has been extremely appealing. Is this typical of your personality or is this just your stage presence?

 

Ah, I know what you mean. Well, I have to say I’m a strange combination of shyness along with being very comfortable on stage. I do feel a little self-conscious on stage at times with the thought going through my head, "wow, all these people are watching me!" At the same time, it’s very comforting to just look out there and see the happy and enthusiastic faces and that puts me at ease. When I get to play a solo that I feel very confident about, I really enjoy doing that and perhaps that’s the "opening up" that you’re talking about. Rod just has a way of bringing out the fun in everything we do. He always helps me feel less shy when he motions for me to come to the front of the stage or jokes around with me.

 

You are always look as if you are enjoying yourself on stage so much. Do you find constant touring playing largely the same material boring at times?

 

No, I never find it boring, because the audiences always give us fresh energy. It’s easy to feel excited about playing the same music when you look out into the audience and see how excited they are to be there and that energy really feeds us on stage. An enthusiastic audience is as important to a good performance and what we’re doing on stage. And also Rod is such a great and professional entertainer that you always feel excited to be on stage in front of an audience at any given time with him. Some days we may feel a little tired or jet-lagged, but with an enthusiastic audience, you forget all of those feelings.

 

Do you have any particular favourite songs or gigs since you joined Rod's band?

 

I loved playing at the Edinburgh Castle back in 2002. It was magical. I also loved the winery gigs in Australia and New Zealand…especially Hawkes Bay back in 2005.

 

I find it frustrating that Rod does not use his band on recordings. Have you ever played on any of his recordings?

 

Yes, I have. It’s always fun working with Rod whether on stage or in the studio.

 

How do you spend your free time away from music?

 

Working out…with a trainer. I’m not as motivated to do it on my own and I really need a trainer to get myself going. I love to hike in the hills of southern California when I’m there. Watching movies with my husband. Playing music with my husband. Learning to cook (I’m kind of a novice when it comes to cooking). I love to do laundry…oh and partying and hitting the clubs. Just kidding about those last ones. I figured I had better put something more rock ‘n roll in there besides exercise, cooking and laundry.

 

How much rehearsal is necessary before a tour?

 

1-2 weeks usually. 6 to 8 hours per day.

 

I would love to know about your musical training. Were you classically trained, if so where?

 

I started out with the Suzuki violin method when I was 15 months old. I studied with the concertmaster of the St. Louis Symphony when I was a kid. I also went to Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan and then the Vienna Music Conservatory as an exchange student. After that I received my degree in music performance from California State University at Chico. But the best education is always the school of hard knocks when I moved to Los Angeles after graduating from Cal State Chico. My family also performed frequently together since I was about 6 years old, so I feel like I’ve grown up performing. My parents were both professional musicians and teachers.

 

My question to J'Anna would be "How did you and your husband meet"?

We met in Vienna when I was on tour with Rod about 5 years ago. We were
introduced by a friend of mine named Birgit who I had first met when I was an
exchange student in Vienna when I was 18. Many years later when I was traveling
through Vienna on tour with Rod, Birgit invited me to a Coca-Cola party where
she and her husband introduced me to Steve. Steve, a few years earlier had hired
my friend’s husband, Martin, and he knew Steve had a great love for music and
thought he might be interested to talk with me about my career as a musician. It
turns out Steve had been sent the DVD of Rod’s Royal Albert Hall performance
about 6 months before we met and he remembered seeing me on the DVD earlier in
the year.

 

What made you decide to take up the violin, rather than any other instrument, and when and how did you decide to go into rock, rather than classical?

 

My decision to take up the violin had nothing to do with me. My father was a great musician and violin was also his first instrument of many to follow! In the mid-60s there was a new music program being introduced inthe U.S. called the Suzuki method.

It was developed by a man in Japan who observed how infants and toddlers begin to learn language(s) just by listening to their parents and being in-tune with their environment. He thought very young children could learn music in the same way. My father was interested in learning about this new method of teaching music and he decided to try it out on me. I was 15 months old the first time he put a violin in my hands. By 18 months I could play the first part of twinkle twinkle little star. Both my parents are fine musicians and teachers and they saw to it that I practiced every day and got a very good beginning and foundation and had excellent teachers in the beginning. I never would have stuck with it if it weren’t for them.

As to the 2nd part of your question, we listened to and enjoyed many different styles of music in our household. As I mentioned earlier, Jazz was a great love for both my parents and we listened to it a lot and also saw many great jazz musicians
perform as well as played that style in our own family band. I also became very
interested and involved in folk music between the age of 10-16 and I was able to
learn a lot about traditional American, Irish and Scottish folk music. And I won
a bunch of fiddle contests in the U.S. during that time. Then when I was 16 I
attended Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan State and I reestablished my focus
and studies towards classical music. I also spent then next 5-8 years studying
classical music at the Vienna Music Conservatory and at University of California
at Chico and master classes with Glenn Dicterow, concertmaster of the NY
Philharmonic. When I moved to Los Angeles after I graduated from university, I
stumbled onto a rock band called The Black Watch (of all things, a Scottish
reference!). They were rehearsing in the garage of the house where I rented a
room in Los Angeles. They overheard me giving a fiddle lesson and invited me to
play with the band on a few tunes. I spent the next few months trying to figure
out how to amplify my violin so it would be loud enough to compete with the
electric guitars and drums. I also started playing electric guitar and doing
more singing and songwriting. I was in my early 20s at the time. Of course, it’s
a labour of love, you make NO money and you just are paying your dues for a lot
of years. But it was exciting when I first starting playing in a rock band and I
thought, wow, now I can combine all my past experience of jazz, folk and
classical and go a new direction with this. I feel like I had found more of a
"voice" for myself and I resonated with the pop and rock music of the 90s more
than I could relate to playing in an orchestra (which I think my father much
would have preferred to see me do), but in the end, I eventually found may way
into Rod’s band over 10 years after I moved to LA and it feels like a perfect fit for me. I’ve enjoyed the last 11 years more than I can tell you. It has been a truly great experience.

 

J'Anna, the tour starts in Dublin on 11th May. We are expecting a few new songs from Soulbook but what old songs do you think Rod might surprise us with?

 

I can’t tell you anything about this new tour, because I missed all the rehearsals in LA due to that damn volcano. I’m flying to Dubai on Wednesday and I’ll get my usual crash-course in what it is I need to do for thistour. I can tell you that we have some fun new costumes! I’ll save one or two for Ian and Big Al after this tour is over. I hope theycan fit into them! Looking forward to seeing you all very soon.

 

The RSC would like to thank the following
members for submitting questions for J’Anna…

Gary Jones – England

Isabell, Kirsten & Sonja – Germany

Mark Sandford – England

Garry Sturrock – Scotland

Antonio España – Mexico

Rosane Rodrigues Martins – Brazil

Ulrike Reid – USA

Neil Rhodes – England

Paul Clegg – England

Charlie Shillibeer – England

Jim Henderson – Scotland

Lars Jensen – Denmark

Roger – England

Peter - England

Helen Clowes – Scotland

Albert Williamson – Scotland

Sean Doran – England

Colin Davidson – Scotland

Sharon Brown – England

Theresa Moulton – USA

Fiona Rouse – England

Kevin Crossland – England

Marcy Braunstein – USA

Ian Roberts - England

Stan Terry - England

NEXT RSFC EVENT

Mallorca Party

16th - 19th October

2017

SPAIN

 

 

NEXT GIG

 March 26th

Sports Palace, Mexico,

Mexico City

             

 

 

 

 

      

 

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