Jessica Lynn - A City girl? No. Not by any stretch of the imagination. She is a country girl at heart.
By Joseph O'Gara
"She was Brooklyn born and bread. However she doesn't consider herself a city girl by any means".
Even though she was born in Brooklyn and raised in Yorktown Heights (a town that is one hour north of New York City), Jessica Lynn feels right at home in the great outdoors.
“I’m not a city girl, even though I was born in Brooklyn,” Lynn admitted. “I actually hate the city, but I love the outdoors.”
A self-taught musician who formed her first band when she was a teenager, Lynn is so intent on being a successful country music artists that she put together the financing for her two PBS specials: “Jessica Lynn: This Much Fun – Live from St. George’s Winery” (2014) and “Jessica Lynn: Takin’ Over – Live at The Paramount” (2015). Jessica has also released two EP’s, her second one “Look at Me That Way” was recorded in Belgium last year with top European producer Patrick Hamilton at the helm.
“While we were in France last year I met Patrick, a Belgian producer,” Lynn said. “We took an hour long ride from where we were staying in France to his studio in Belgium. Patrick and I sat together in his writing room. It was so cool to work with such a prestigious producer. The music we recorded in his studio had a different flair and flavor than what tends to come out of Nashville. My first single from the EP, ‘Crazy Idea’, broke into the Top 50 on the country music charts.”
And how did Jessica initially find out about the chart success of “Crazy Idea”?
“We were in the south of France to perform at a music festival,” Jessica recalled, “and my guitarist came running down the hallway of the hotel we were staying in, and he started pounding on my door! I was thinking ‘what does he want?’ (laughing) I opened the door and he ran into my hotel room with his laptop and said ‘Look at this!’ It was an email from Grass Roots, the company that does our publicity, and in the email it said that ‘Crazy Idea’ was the fourth most-streamed video in country music that week, and the ninth most-downloaded song in country music!
“We continued to get weekly reports on how the single was doing, and it kept going up the charts! I kept asking myself ‘When is this going to end?’ It gave me such hope on how my first single would do.”
Currently on their third European tour, the trips overseas have provided Jessica and her band the opportunity to perform with rock and blues bands including: ZZ Top, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Dokken, as well as on their own at various music festivals in Germany, Italy, Switzerland, France and England.
Regardless of which European country Lynn and her bandmates perform in, they are given a strong, rousing reception from the audiences.
“The fans in Europe are so obsessive about the music,” Lynn pointed out. “In Europe, the music festivals are all about the music and the whole concert experience. When we did shows with ZZ Top it gave us an opportunity to show the people our rock ‘n’ roll side. When we played the festivals we played the traditional country music material.”
In fact, it was the band’s 2017 European tour that gave Lynn the idea for the video “Crazy Idea”.
“The video came about because I wanted to do a diary of our 2017 European tour,” Lynn said. “I wanted to combine shots of us onstage, meeting the fans, and some of the crazy stuff that goes on behind the scenes.”
Jessica admitted that she has enjoyed her visits to Europe for numerous reasons.
“The fact that you can drive for 45 minutes and end up in another country is so cool!
And of course, the food! I’m up at 6 a.m. every morning while we’re over there, exercising so I can try everything the restaurants have to offer!”
There has been one part of Lynn’s trips to Germany that has not provided such wonderful memories.
“Riding on the autobahn is one of my top five scariest experiences!” Lynn exclaimed. “The Enterprise Rent-A-Car service in Europe was terrible for us. We asked for two 7-passenger vans with automatic transmissions, and was given a 15-seat van with standard transmission. My poor husband was taught how to drive a stick, by an Enterprise employee, in their rental office’s parking lot.
“My husband is usually so calm and collected. But once we got onto the autobahn, the terrified look on his face, it was priceless!”
Lynn has also done three U.S. tours in the past three years, sharing stages with the numerous country artists, including: Keith Urban, Thompson Square, Clint Black, Jo Dee Messina, Phil Vassar, Trace Adkins, Shenandoah and country music legend Loretta Lynn.
And it was while she was on a U.S. tour that the comparisons to Shania Twain started showing up in the print media.
“I am a huge Shania Twain fan,” Lynn admitted. “Shania has this mix of flavors in her music, which is what I do. And Shania has proven that you don’t have to fit into a particular mold to be a success in music, you can pave your own way.
“We went out on a big U.S. tour, and the music publications started putting out the comparisons to Shania. For me it was such an honor, to be compared to the biggest record-selling female artist in country music. Such comparisons can be a detriment if you’re a copycat. When people hear my music, it’s a mix of pop and rock. If you hear my music, it doesn’t sound like a copy of Shania’s music. It does have some of the same elements as Shania’s material. But we like to put on a full-blown rock show!”
Jessica’s band includes her husband Steve Sterlacci on lead guitar, her father Pete Calamera on bass, and her mother Victoria Calamera on backing vocals. Rounding out Lynn’s band are: guitarist Steven Wright-Mark, percussionist Matthew Bauer, drummer Brian Duke and pedal steel guitar player Bob Riedel. Lynn credits Riedel with helping maintain a traditional, old school country sound to some of their material.
“My pedal steel guitar player, Bob Riedel, is 71 years old and has his own fan club!” Jessica said. “Bob has added an old school touch to our music that gives us the opportunity to pay tribute to the legacy of country music.”
Once Jessica and her band returns to the States at the end of July, they will spend the month of August preparing for a big tour of the U.S. that will kick off in September and run through the start of 2019.
“We also plan on recording some music when we get back home,” Lynn said, “We are trying to plan a time frame for being in the studio. Plus we need to decide what will be released as the next single.
“I’ve also been writing like crazy because I have been so inspired. My husband and I have even started collaborating on songs.”
Just like when it comes to her videos, Jessica insists on having control over her work in the studio.
“Being a totally independent artist,” Lynn pointed out, “I need to have control of what we do, whether it’s a single, EP or album, or a video. It’s a lot of hard work but it’s been worth it!”
Interview written by Joseph O'Gara