Jen Van Meter, front woman, guitarist, and singer's grandfather was a friend of country legend Ernest Tubb. She grew up with the Osborne Brothers, Jeanie C. Riley, and Johnny Cash on the stereo. The country gene comes from there. On the other side of the family, her grandmother was an accomplished organist and her guitar playing uncle, the reason she picked up a guitar in the first place. With music in her blood and a childhood spent immersed in it, she became a student of mandolin, guitar, and songwriting in the Country Music and Bluegrass program at East Tennessee State University. And Jen Van Meter continued to hone her chops. While working at a music store in Johnson City, TN, she discovered the likes of Kasey Chambers who opened up another world of music and had a tremendous impact on her musical direction. In 2004, she took her talent to the stage with the critically acclaimed duo eighty1south. Soon after, her partner Caitlin won CMT's first season of "Can You Duet?" which left Van Meter on her own with a basket full of songs and a guitar. "I had to learn to find my own voice. It's been quite a journey of learning and growing. I've been doing the leg work and my calf muscles are finally starting to get a little more defined."
In 2008, enter drummer Noel White. Noel, a producer, writer and multi-instrumentalist, has been at the front line of the music industry for more than 20 years working with Art Garfunkel, Keller Williams, Marcy Playground, Herbie Hancock, Faith Hill, Dashboard Confessional, Nils Lofgren and more. In 2010, enter Jay Turner. Jay is a Grammy winning bassist, songwriter and arranger with four solo albums and multiple US and European tours under his belt performing Roots, Blues, World, Rock and Folk music with Jonny Neel, Danny O'Keefe, Djimmo Kouyate (Mamaya), (Demola Adepoju) Beatology, Steve Azar and Rod Picott. Jen says, "They have me listening to the Sex Pistols and Joe Strummer. They've both really pushed me; as a singer, which has me doing voice work with rock legend Steve Whiteman, and as a guitar player where I'm focusing on the 'less is more' theory. And tone, tone, tone. Big tone. I'm now putting my Gretsch 5120 through analog delay right into my AC30. I could never have stumbled upon that idea myself. I have a new passion for performing now with these two beside me. They have such a dynamic between the two of them, as well. They're a blast to play with."
Jay Turner - Bass Guitar
Noel White - Drums
Jennifer Van Meter - Guitar / Vocal
'Should've Been A Weathergirl' - 2009
'Mess of My Memory' - 2011
Love To Help You Out
Mess Of My memory
No Room To Roll Over
Van Meter: Should've Been A Weathergirl
[+ Show ]
From the opening verse of “Something Wrong,” the opening song of Van Meter‘s Should Have Been a Weat...From the opening verse of “Something Wrong,” the opening song of Van Meter‘s Should Have Been a Weather Girl, the tone is set for an album that deals with broken hearts and broken promises. In her lyrics, Jennifer Van Meter, the songwriter/vocalist/guitarist behind Van Meter, tackles all sides of the broken relationship.
I that opening track, the narrator asks the object of her affections to remove the tattoo that bears his lover’s name… and to remover her as well. Elsewhere the protagonist revels in the piles of broken men left in her wake in the slow burning “The Habit,” and completely removes her heart from the equation for much of “Keep On.” In the former she warns a potential beau against giving her his heart. In the latter, she dreams of disappearing in the night and leaving her liaison to wonder where she came from… and where she has gone.
At the core of most of these songs however hides the singer’s own broken heart. The narrator in these songs plays with the hearts of others to avoid the pain in her own. Other times, as in “Hard to Say” the pain catches up to her. She is left alone to ponder what might have been and must force herself to face the pain and move forward.
Of course, none of this is new ground. Songs about broken hearts are as old as music itself. Somehow though, Van Meter manages to keep it all fresh. The emotions in the songs never feel contrived, and the rock tinged country sound of Van Meter’s music holds just a bit of a southern twang that keeps pulling me in.
Even though Jennifer Van Meter hails from and currently resides in Maryland, that southern swagger is in no way contrived or forced. Van Meter spent her college years as a student in the Bluegrass and Country Music program at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, TN. It was at ETSU where she studied guitar under former Johnny Cash bandleader Jerry Hensley and songwriting under Ed Snodderly. Hensley is also a direct descendant of The Carter Family, and a lyric from Snodderly’s “Diamond Stream” is engraved into the wall at the entrance to the Hall of Honor at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville. That speaks volumes to the type of musical education Van Meter received.
Van Meter also claims Kasey Chambers’ Barricades & Brickwalls as a primary influence on her sound and an album that helped to define her own musical tastes. Any regular reader of this site knows that I can readily attest to the life altering quality of that record. From what she tells me, I imagine Van Meter’s experience with Barricades & Brickwalls to be very similar to mine.
Should Have Been a Weather Girl puts all of Van Meter’s education to use. The musicianship and songwriting she learned in the classroom at ETSU mixed with the informal lessons she learned from Kasey Chambers have helped Jennifer Van Meter and her band craft a very solid debut record that is worth checking out.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.