Fests and family from Laura Jane Vincent
By: Katei Cranford
Armed with grit, her guitar, and a grin, Laura Jane Vincent is a sweetheart singer-songwriter with a weekly gig at Common Grounds, a new album in the works, and the seventh round of her homespun music festival on the immediate horizon.
Vincent has been singing since she can remember. As a kid, “it was like a party trick how song lyrics would come out me,” Vincent recalled. “My mom would have come into my room at night and tell me to ‘stop singing, and go to sleep!’”
All grown-up, Vincent’s “party trick” has developed into her “whole music situation,” playing 60 to 175 gigs a year with a drummer husband in-tow.
Her 2013 release ...for a Sweetheart from the South bleeds stories and ballads about people, life lessons, heartache, and resilience. “I still find myself telling these stories,” Vincent said of her salt-of-the-earth style, “though the older I get, the more I’m inclined to just let them happen.”
Stories come less frequently these days while Vincent’s musicianship goes part-time until her husband and drummer, Dave Tippetts, finishes school. She credits being part of Matty Sheets’ Wednesday night residency at Common Grounds for keeping her sharp.
Part-time or full-time, “I’m lucky to make music with someone I love,” Vincent said of her bandmate of 10 years, and spouse for the past six. It’s the classic romance-story: a country girl from Carolina hooks up with a Montana metal man to host a music festival in the woods.
“Dave’s love of metal really makes me a better player,” Vincent insisted. “It’s not just about him wanting me to play faster; it’s more nuanced,” she added. “Plus, without him, I wouldn’t have been brave enough to jump into a mosh pit at a GWAR show.”
Together, Vincent is stoked to complete their sophomore effort, with recording underway at their Moore County farmhouse. The downhome process is a departure from Sweetheart, which was recorded over a tight two-days at the esteemed Echo Mountain Studios in Asheville.
“I wanted to record at home as opposed to a traditional studio environment,” Vincent explained, ”and take time to really flesh things out.” Plus, “Tom Troyer [her producer from Black Rabbit Audio] loves finding the good acoustics in the old house,” she added, ”it’s working out great.”
They’ve called the “old house” home for a few years, though Vincent’s relatives have occupied the property (which includes a historically-preserved country doctor’s office) since 1820. “I’ve been in love with it always,” she said of the space.
Opportunity knocked with an NPR Tiny Desk concert in 2015. “There was no cooler ‘desk’ I knew of,” she noted of the antique office. “Dust and bugs and charm and all, it was the perfect setting.” They shot the video and made themselves a home shortly thereafter. “We’ve done some work to help modernize the house a bit, but our goal is to keep as much original as possible.”
Family is at the heart of that goal. “Al gets all the credit for arranging, and preserving that doctor’s office,” Vincent acknowledged of her stepdad, fellow-musician, Al Simmons, with whom she recently performed for the Randolph Arts Guild Emerging Artist series.
Vincent and Simmons boast an interesting lineage featuring practitioners of medicine for the body and soul. During Glendonfest they show it off.
“Locals often tell me about how they played on the stone steps of my front porch while their grandmother was in the doc’s office for an appointment,” Vincent said, “I love seeing the effect this place has on people.”
Beyond the spectacle of antiquity, Glendonfest serves a practical purpose for Vincent and her musical clan: an answer to the problem musicians face of missing-out on shows (because they’re also playing shows) by having a weekend they all play together.
“Plus when you live in a secluded country setting, in the middle of nowhere, you really do miss your friends,” Vincent admitted, “it’s a wonderful excuse for us all to get together.“
“We had the space and the event-planning knowledge to at the very least pull off a killer barbecue,” Vincent said of her initial inspiration, “it’s grown so much.” Scheduled artists include Megan Jean and the KFB, The Grand Ole Uproar, Gabriela La Foley, Momma Molasses, and nearly a dozen more.
”We’ll get as big as our resources allow while keeping everyone safe, and having as much fun as we can.”
Katei Cranford is a Triad music nerd who hosts the Tuesday Tour Report, a radio show that runs like a mixtape of bands touring the following week, 5-7p.m. on WUAG 103.1fm.