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Story and photos by Phil BonyataA radiant Jewel Kilcher slowly walked to the microphone nodded and opened her set at The Pabst Theater with a truly innocent a capella rendition of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." The two thirds filled theater listened in rapt silence. As the last note faded into the upper balcony Jewel asked "what song do you guys want to hear?" As a a myriad of old favorites to "play something new Jewel" bounced back from the audience, Jewel quipped "I want to be your little blonde jukebox tonight." Jewel perused her catalog from her breakout album Pieces of You"(1995) to her new country record Sweet and Wild to be released this month.
Jewel has a natural gift of storytelling, perhaps forged by her life experiences of growing up in Alaska without indoor plumbing and making ends meet by playing honky tonks and taverns throughout the state with her musician father. She was living out of her car in San Diego before she was "discovered" by a record label. A tough life can usually breed a better understanding of the human condition. This night was simply Jewel, her voice and an acoustic guitar. Wearing a short blue and white lace dress and tight fitting black leather boots she made it clear through the use of her whispery verses and catchy choruses that mood and melody would rule the evening's performance.
Her latest country songs she performed from Sweet and Wild such as "Satisfied," "Ten," and "Summer Home in Your Arms" were more vintage country than today's sappy and skeletal versions of what country has sadly become. Her stories are rife with a person who has experienced pain, but also knows in her heart that redemption is around the corners that you least expect.
Jewel closed her hour and half set with rousing renditions of "You Were Meant For Me" and "Who Will Save Your Soul," but Jewel's focus is clearly on the trails to be discovered while not dwelling on the places that she's already been.
Somewhere Over the Rainbow
Near You Always
Summer Home in Your Arms
Hole In My Heart (Shape of You)
Sometimes It Be That Way
Race Car Driver
You Were Meant For Me
Who Will Save Your Soul
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