Jana’s going places
Jana Heller is a young lady we are going to hear much more about in the near future.
And, refreshingly, unlike many of her American contemporaries, it will be the strength of her song writing and not the interminable use of hype that will bring her success.
Since settling on the Hammersmith and Chiswick borders, singer/songwriter and instrumentalist Jana has been rapidly building a reputation as a powerful performer and versatile musician.
Her vocal style falls somewhere between the passion of Sixties folk rock legend Buffy Saint Marie and the compelling west Coast drive of The Jefferson Starship’s Grace Slick.
Jana’s visit to Staines Folk Club last week might be charting new territory in the west but the Californian songstress has already made quite an impression in brief appearances at the Waterman’s Centre and Twickenham’s Cabbage Patch.
But as Jana quickly explains, both her music and background go well beyond the traditional folk club setting. “Since settling in London I have quickly learned to adapt to both different musical requirements and varying audiences.
“It was a little strange playing to rowdy Australians in Earls Court one night, and to a reverential Twickenham audience the next.”
As far as her past musical experience go, the wild nights and weeks on the road have been incorporated into some of her songs. Working with two West Coast bands, The Phantoms and the strangely-titled Aaahs, Jana quickly learned to deal with whisky drinking, fire-breathing loggers who would catch a glimpse of the bank in between demolishing a table, a couple more shots and a few pizzas in no particular order.
Happily, Jana finds London an exhilarating place to work and she is particularly surprised at the vast amount of talent in these parts.
“I am still startled at the quality of ‘floor singers’ on the folk circuit who appear out of nowhere, play for a pint and then promptly disappear back into obscurity,” she says.
Jana’s appearances have been rapidly growing and she has already played the Mean Fidler acoustic room to great acclaim. The last time there she shared the bill with veteran protest singer Julie Felix on a night of high spirits and revelry.
Future dates include several spots at the Cambridge Folk Festival and a string of club and ‘cabaret’ nights to promote her fast-selling Mad Waltzing cassette.
In the meantime it’s a pat on the back for the Staines Folk Club for pulling off a scoop and bringing a major up-and-coming talent to the area. PETE FEENSTRA The Chronicle-August 1988
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