TERRE HAUTE —
Steve Martin once said you can’t play a sad song on a banjo.
He’s got a point. Imagine some bouncy lead banjo on “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out” or “Motherless Child.”
Likewise, you can’t sing the blues without emotion. Without at least a hint of despair or loneliness in a singer’s voice, the two aforementioned blues classics would come off as flat as a fizzless Coke.
The 12th annual Blues at the Crossroads festival should bubble with emotion, especially when Jennie DeVoe takes the stage Friday night in downtown Terre Haute at Seventh Street and Wabash Avenue. Memories and stories behind DeVoe’s songs continue to move her, even after more than a decade as one of Indiana’s premier singer-songwriters.
“I can still get teary-eyed while I’m singing,” DeVoe said.
Sometimes, it happens even when she’s not the singer.
“I’ve heard other people do my songs before, and I get very emotional,” she explained.
Blues and soul music simply can’t happen without emotion. Think Ray Charles or Joe Cocker. Now, imagine serving as an opening act for those guys, just before they start swaying and contorting in song. Their warm-up performers better show some spirit. DeVoe has done just that, playing bills topped by Charles and Cocker as well as Jack Johnson, John Hiatt, Lucinda Williams and one of DeVoe’s greatest influences, Bonnie Raitt. This year, DeVoe enjoyed a couple of career highlights, thanks to Raitt, whom she first met five years ago. In July, DeVoe played the Top of the Park Festival at Ann Arbor, Mich., where Raitt was a headliner, earning a coveted spot alongside the famed guitarist-singer on souvenir festival T-shirts. In May, when Raitt played a concert at Clowes Hall in Indianapolis, she mentioned DeVoe, who was in the audience that night.
“I got a round of applause by just sitting on my ass,” DeVoe joked, appreciatively.
She gets ovations and recognition for her own talents, too, of course. Her resume includes an appearance at the popular women’s music festival, Lillith Fair, in 1999. Her songs — a mix of soul, folk and blues — have earned a best independent pop song honor in Billboard World Song Contest in 2004, and slots on television shows “Dawson’s Creek” and “Joan of Arcadia.” DeVoe also recorded voice-overs and jingles for commercials in Los Angeles. Her song, “Butterfly,” graced TV ads for a jewelry store chain, stretching from Rochester, N.Y., to Dallas and New Orleans. A major record label, Sony Red, handled distribution of her latest album, “Strange Sunshine,” which she recorded in England with Tracy Chapman’s producer, John Parish.
Yet, she’s chosen to remain a Hoosier. Still lives in Indianapolis, a short drive from her hometown of New Castle and her college alma mater, Ball State. Still loves to see her husband’s car in the driveway when she comes home. Still is anxious to be greeted by their four dogs and two cats.
As her song, “Redeeming,” says, “I just want someone to wag their tail when I walk through the door.”
DeVoe occasionally, and selectively, covers other artists’ material, such as a playful version of the 1971 Melanie Safka hit “Brand New Key” and a soulful reading of Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode to Billie Joe” from ’67. Her originals, though, she holds dear, particularly “Blind Faith,” “All This Love,” “How I Feel” and “Redeeming.” The latter illuminates the full range of DeVoe’s voice, revving from a smoky and vulnerable idle to a muscular top gear. With a dose of humor, the song probes the difficulty of extending forgiveness, especially to those who won’t seek it.
“The only thing that keeps you going — and we’re all so imperfect and rotten — is forgiving,” DeVoe said in a phone interview from Indy.
Raised in a “strict Lutheran” family in New Castle, DeVoe said people often rebel at some point and eventually rediscover the value of their faith. Now, she said, “I don’t get out of bed in the morning without saying my morning prayers.” The path isn’t always smooth. “When you do stick strongly to your faith, you get a lot more challenges because you’re sticking to it,” DeVoe explained.
Challenges and the blues go together. Banjos? Not so much.
Mark Bennett can be reached at (812) 231-4377 or email@example.com.
TERRE HAUTE —
Steve Martin once said you can’t play a sad song on a banjo.
- Local & Bistate
Storm causes scattered Indiana power outages
INDIANAPOLIS — A line of thunderstorms that moved across Indiana caused scattered building damage and power outages for several thousand homes and businesses.
Kindergartner diagnosed with MD treated to a day with the fire department
“He’ll just never forget this day,” Stacey Manley said, a little bit tearfully, as she watched her smiling 6-year-old son Carter sitting happily in the captain’s seat of Fire Engine 2.
Casey, Illinois aims for another world record
The town of Casey, Ill., may soon weave its way into the record books as the small town with the most world records. After setting records for the world’s largest wind chimes and the world’s largest golf tee, Casey is now looking to become home to the world’s largest knitting needles and crochet hook.
Rose-Hulman projects will promote growth, learning for people with physical challenges
Life changed dramatically for college engineering student Drew Christy on Feb. 22, 2008 when he was involved in an auto accident and suffered a traumatic brain injury.
‘500’ gas stations being sold to Speedway LLC
After several decades in business, the area’s familiar “500” gasoline stations and convenience stores will soon be missing from the roadsides of Vigo and Sullivan counties.
Terre Haute woman faces 14 charges
A Terre Haute woman faces 14 criminal counts after her arrest Friday on drug-related charges.
Two adults injured in ATV accident
Two adults were injured Sunday evening while riding an all-terrain vehicle near Lexington Farms Subdivision off Moyer Drive in southern Vigo County.
Vigo schools’ medical claims down more than $10M
The Vigo County School Corp.’s medical claims were about $13 million over the last 12 months, down 4 percent from the prior year, said Diane Titchenell, an Anthem account manager that works with the school district.
2013 Government Directory now available
The 2013 Government Directory is now available.
UPDATE: 5 killed, 6 injured in I-70 van crash in Illinois
ST. LOUIS — A van carrying church members returning from a California gathering careened off of a southern Illinois freeway and overturned several times today, killing five people and sending six others to hospitals, authorities said.
2 children reported dead from Indianapolis fire
INDIANAPOLIS — Authorities say some autistic children lived in the Indianapolis condominium unit where a fire has killed two children.
Tighter Indiana drunken driving law seems unlikely
INDIANAPOLIS — Some key Indiana legislators say it’s unlikely that the state will any time soon go along with a federal safety board’s recommendation that the threshold for drunken driving be cut nearly in half.
Vigo County Jail Log: May 20, 2013
The following individuals were booked into the Vigo County Jail by area law enforcement on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, based on jail records.
Life-Size Ping Pong: Valley pickleball tourney draws large crowd to Brittlebank Park
It’s been described as “ping pong on steroids.”
Some people call it “life-size ping pong where you stand on the table.”
Boat trip aims to raise awareness about Lewy Body Dementia
In 2013, the Year of the River, it makes sense to link a grand adventure on the Wabash River with a good cause.
Legislature had little taste for alcohol bills
When it comes to alcohol, the 2013 legislative session may be marked more by what it didn’t do to boost booze sales than what it did.
STATE OF THE STATEHOUSE: Is it regulation that doesn’t make sense or evening the playing field?
I’m not much of a drinker, so I haven’t spent much time thinking about how Indiana’s alcohol laws personally impact me, but that changed last fall when my daughter got married.
RESTAURANT INSPECTIONS: April 29-May 3
The Vigo County Health Department inspected the following food establishments April 29-May 3:
For Piper: Annual ‘Rush the Punter’ event dedicated to Dixie Bee student who died Wednesday after a short illness
Steve Weatherford’s “Rush the Punter” fundraiser at Fairbanks Park on Saturday was dedicated to a little girl who lost her life unexpectedly to pneumonia.
Vigo schools prepare to tighten belts
State funding for the Vigo County School Corp. will remain “pretty flat” for the next two years, said Donna Wilson, chief financial officer.
Veterans take to the trees
Cristal Bednar took photos of her husband, Justin, as he laboriously climbed his way up a “Dangle-Duo” to get to a zipline at Indiana State University’s Sycamore Outdoor Center.
Property owner seeks halt to Hulman Lake dam project
A Terre Haute property owner is seeking an injunction that would at least temporarily halt the city’s work on the Hulman Lake dam project.
Tornado veterans balance preparedness, practicality
Few things in nature are less predictable than a tornado. They can form quickly. They strike weirdly, leveling one building while leaving its neighbor untouched. They can fling a car a half-mile and turn a piece of lumber into a wall-piercing missile.
ISU unveils interactive Bayh Family Legacy Wall at school
A who’s who of Indiana Democrats paid tribute to Evan Bayh and several generations of the Bayh family Friday during a dedication of a new interactive display at Indiana State University.
Can you smell me now?
A contraband cell phone has been discovered by the Vigo County Jail’s youngest and most unique officer.
GIVING BACK: Steve Weatherford buys shoes for kids day before charity run
Terre Haute’s Steve Weatherford, punter for the 2012 Super Bowl champion New York Giants, showed once again his generosity Friday by donating new athletic shoes to more than two dozen Vigo County kids.
N.Y. Giants honor Weatherford as ‘Man of the Year’
Dan Tanoos, superintendent of Vigo County schools, remembers the first time he saw Steve Weatherford as a freshman at Terre Haute North Vigo High School.
Sunday recital at The Woods
A recital featuring songs from well-known composers is at 7 p.m. Sunday in the Church of the Immaculate Conception at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.
Police investigating rash of car window shootings
Terre Haute Police are investigating a rash of shootings that have shattered car windows throughout the city.
City hospitals get passing grades for patient safety
Two Terre Haute hospitals have been ranked for patient safety by an independent organization that assesses safety, quality and affordability of healthcare for Americans.
- More Local & Bistate Headlines
- Storm causes scattered Indiana power outages