One of the best things about the Crazy Horse Saloon is all the new music we get turned on to. Staying close to home in Nevada City is easier than ever because world class bands continue to show up right on our doorstep. Every band that graces our stage is talented in its own right, but some have an undeniable sense of major star potential. The first time J.J. von Briesen played here back in February, it felt like one of those magical moments where true greatness comes to light. She’s played the Horse two times since and we feel lucky for every note. Her path to fame seems to be paved in gold.
There are a lot of talented artists out there, but to stand out amongst the pack, you have to possess that x-factor. J.J. has it in spades. She’s that rare breed of performer who captivates a room and makes everyone feel like she’s connecting with them personally. Small in stature but giant in charisma, the blonde bombshell bares her soul through every song. She clearly feels the music and its meaning within each cell of her being. Not only is she an exceptional singer, but she can pick a mean guitar. Hailing from Batesville, VA but currently living in Truckee, CA, J.J.’s music is hard to pin down. It can be summed up as soulful Americana rock with a country essence. Her red cowboy boots, a signature component of her style, nod towards the latter.
J.J.’s band consists of a trio of aces who certainly aren’t your garden variety sidemen. J.J. Cady is a sharpshooter on guitar, Chris Cloyd emanates a punk-jazz panache on bass and Conor McAlindin seems like he has a couple of spare limbs on drums. They support their front woman tastefully while occasionally pushing the sound into a formidable jam space. The last time they played here on July 5, their progression was evident as the second set ventured into a loose, intrepid realm. Near the end of her first two appearances at the Horse, the nights culminated with J.J. hopping up on the bar to strut her stuff and serenade the awestruck crowd. It didn’t happen this most recent time, probably because the band was so immersed in their improvisation. We found it amusing after the show when she said to us apologetically, “Sorry I didn’t get up on the bar this time.” Well, you can’t be too predictable. We’ll continue to love her whether she plays on stage, on the bar or on the sidewalk.