Ida Jo
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Ida Jo

Madison, Wisconsin, United States | SELF

Madison, Wisconsin, United States | SELF
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Ida Jo is one inspired person, releasing three solo recordings in as many years as well as being a member of Bello, who released their fine debut earlier this year. Additionally she’s the director of Midnight Voices, an all-female high school a capella group who wowed the audience at the 2011 Madison Area Music Awards and who also released a CD this year with all arrangements, direction and layout by Ida Jo. It’s the association with Midnight Voices that seems to have informed Uncharted to a great degree. Of course, her association with mega-talent Scott Lamps remains in force with Lamps providing bass, piano, banjo and assorted percussion in addition to his impressive production.

Lamps has a knack for getting the most out of less and Uncharted uses the sparest of accompaniments. Most notable is the lack of any drums per se. Instead they use stomps-and-claps along with Ida Jo’s noted chopping technique on the violin. These accoutrements, along with Ida Jo’s increasing soulful vocal style imbue Uncharted with a traditional sensibility, as if these songs originated sometime in history somewhere in the Deep South.

The songs themselves are the simplest of constructs; there is not a bridge on any of the album’s twelve cuts. Another notable aspect is the lack of multi-tracking on the vocals. Only “Goodbye,” perhaps the most complex track on the record employs vocal harmonization, a distinct departure from the choral group references that seem to be informing the songs. The syncopation of the vocal melody and 9/8 time signature forges new territory for Ida Jo. She also uses spoken word to great effect, particularly on “A Right” which segues into the title track, using looping violin to great effect – an exciting technique that may indicate the direction she takes her music in the future.

Another spoken bit, “Loan” opens the record impressively, leading into “Who You Are,” the album’s standout track that demonstrates Ida Jo’s pop sensibilities and uniquely personal delivery. “Machine” puts the spotlight on the lyrics, which resonate more deeply on Uncharted. “I don’t know if I still understand / How they get a machine from a man,” she intones, reflecting on the changes of personality of a soldier returning from service and concluding that “I should have known when he crossed that sea / He’d never again be a man to me.” The track is so somber and haunting it plays like a traditional tune from the darker days of history.

Madison has been fortunate to have strong female artists in its midst but I don’t believe there’s ever been a more powerful female force in Madison music than right now. Ida Jo is among those who are gracing the city with her presence and we would all do well to grace these fine performers with ours. These days, and these recordings, should be cherished. - Local Sounds Magazine


Ida Jo, “Uncharted”

The last time we heard from local singer/violinist Ida Jo, she was churning out delicate folk songs alongside Mike Droho and Scott Lamps in Bello. At the time, Jo praised the anything-goes approach adopted by the trio, saying, “I tend to take my music really seriously almost to a fault. With Bello it was just like, ‘Here it is,’ and I think that’s rubbed off on the new stuff I’ve been working on.”

She’s absolutely right. The singer’s third album, “Uncharted,” is her most effortless to date, swinging confidently from back-porch folk (“Who You Are,” which lopes along on handclaps and gorgeous violin) to more stoic numbers like “Machine,” where Jo, accompanied by little more than minimal piano and terse violin, spins a cryptic tale of a war veteran scarred both mentally and physically by his battlefield experiences.

While Bello’s recordings were universally hushed — most of the self-titled albums cuts could have doubled as lullabies — here Jo flashes a brassier tone on songs like “Pit.” “And you’re singing for everyone,” she belts, hinting at the audience she surely hopes to reach with this pretty new collection of tunes.
- 77 Square


Ida Jo Uncharted

While violin is not always an appealing sound to collegiate ears, this album’s mix of unwavering vocals, varied percussion, plucky bass and yes, violin, makes us want to keep listening. Minnesota native and Madison resident Ida Jo brings a unique sound that is not quite folk and not quite indie to her third album. With a voice as gripping as Grace Slick’s of Jefferson Airplane and lyrics that are both hopeful and revealing, Ida Jo’s album has plenty of tracks that will resonate with the Vanessa Carlton and Michelle Branch fans among us. - Badger Herald


Listen to Ida Jo’s Singer in the Band and you’ll find it’s difficult to decide what’s more impressive: her powerful vocals or striking talent as a violinist. Happily, you can enjoy both in this diverse second release by the Duluth-born musician.

And you can learn a bit about her in this conversation with the artist.

Tell me about your journey to becoming a musician.

I started singing publicly in college. I’ve always loved singers like Mavis Staples and Lauryn Hill. Women with big soulful and voices. I knew eventually I wanted to pursue that style of singing. In college, I began singing with an a cappella group, which was a great way to use and strengthen my voice without being so exposed right away. Right now, my focus remains more on my singing and the development of my voice in my music than on violin. I have spent so many years putting all of my time and energy into developing violin technique, I have since felt confident that my violin skills will be there when I need them and I can focus more on my voice.

What is it about the violin that appeals to you?

I don’t know exactly what it was about the instrument that made me want to start learning. Around the time I started violin lessons, my aunt, also a violinist, was performing with a Finnish folk music ensemble. I loved that group and went on to perform and travel with them for many years. That was the start of playing the instrument in non-classical arenas. I’ve been lucky in the sense that I’ve been exposed to a very wide array of musical styles and performers. That exposure has encouraged me to play in whatever style I can.

I understand you use a chopping technique …

The chopping technique comes directly from bluegrass and folk music. Violin/fiddle is usually a soloing instrument so a simplified version of chopping has always been used to accentuate the backbeat when you're not taking a solo. In the past thirty years or so, chopping has really developed into not just a rhythmic too but a harmonic tool as well. I use it to back myself up, meaning playing the chords while keeping the rhythm of my songs, much like a guitar or piano would do.

What influence did studying at UW–Madison have on your music?

Studying at UW has influenced my musicianship and how I approach the making of my music primarily. When I write my music I use a lot of knowledge gathered from studying music theory. Specifically, I enjoy writing in odd time signatures not usually found in pop music. I studied violin performance, which is a tremendously detailed study of the instrument. That has influenced me to try and maintain that sense of attention to detail in non-classical music. A “place for everything and everything in its place” type of attitude. This is especially true on my records. Scott Lamps and Jordan Cohen, who played on both of my records, also studied at UW–Madison and I credit them for a lot of what I love about my recordings. They are very refined musicians, which allows for the records to seem very “loose” and groove-oriented.

You recently released your second album, Singer in the Band. What were your goals in putting it together?

I wanted to develop my style even more on Singer in the Band. Providence [released in 2010] was a way to figure out what it would sound like to put the chopping technique into soul/pop music and what my voice would be like on top of it all. I could push the boundaries a bit more on Singer having the foundation of Providence.

How is this album different from your first release? How have you changed as an artist over this time?

This album is freer than Providence. I was much more comfortable with my vision and the process of making the record. I knew I had done it once so I knew I could do it again. That “security” led to bigger singing, risks in the songwriting, and confidence in the production of it. Confidence is one of those things that develops over a lifetime. With it, the risks get bigger. The results then can be that much better ... or that much worse! Either way it’s pushing yourself to evolve as an artist that is important to me at least, and I feel I did that on Singer.

Where did you find inspiration for your songs?

I find inspiration everywhere and anywhere! Newspaper articles, family situations, friendships. I love that about it. You really never know where it’s coming from next.

How did “No (We Won’t Take It)” come about?

“No” came about after I dropped a friend off at the Union downtown while the protests were starting. I was trying to get back home but the crowds were so overwhelming it was very difficult. I was so taken by the fact that that many people would get together in the middle of the day to make a statement about something they believed so strongly in. I wanted to capture that energy and the statement people were making.

What’s your favorite part of making music? And what keeps you going and inspired?

Music is very inherent in who I am as a person. I began purs - Madison Magazine


Listen to Ida Jo’s Singer in the Band and you’ll find it’s difficult to decide what’s more impressive: her powerful vocals or striking talent as a violinist. Happily, you can enjoy both in this diverse second release by the Duluth-born musician.

And you can learn a bit about her in this conversation with the artist.

Tell me about your journey to becoming a musician.

I started singing publicly in college. I’ve always loved singers like Mavis Staples and Lauryn Hill. Women with big soulful and voices. I knew eventually I wanted to pursue that style of singing. In college, I began singing with an a cappella group, which was a great way to use and strengthen my voice without being so exposed right away. Right now, my focus remains more on my singing and the development of my voice in my music than on violin. I have spent so many years putting all of my time and energy into developing violin technique, I have since felt confident that my violin skills will be there when I need them and I can focus more on my voice.

What is it about the violin that appeals to you?

I don’t know exactly what it was about the instrument that made me want to start learning. Around the time I started violin lessons, my aunt, also a violinist, was performing with a Finnish folk music ensemble. I loved that group and went on to perform and travel with them for many years. That was the start of playing the instrument in non-classical arenas. I’ve been lucky in the sense that I’ve been exposed to a very wide array of musical styles and performers. That exposure has encouraged me to play in whatever style I can.

I understand you use a chopping technique …

The chopping technique comes directly from bluegrass and folk music. Violin/fiddle is usually a soloing instrument so a simplified version of chopping has always been used to accentuate the backbeat when you're not taking a solo. In the past thirty years or so, chopping has really developed into not just a rhythmic too but a harmonic tool as well. I use it to back myself up, meaning playing the chords while keeping the rhythm of my songs, much like a guitar or piano would do.

What influence did studying at UW–Madison have on your music?

Studying at UW has influenced my musicianship and how I approach the making of my music primarily. When I write my music I use a lot of knowledge gathered from studying music theory. Specifically, I enjoy writing in odd time signatures not usually found in pop music. I studied violin performance, which is a tremendously detailed study of the instrument. That has influenced me to try and maintain that sense of attention to detail in non-classical music. A “place for everything and everything in its place” type of attitude. This is especially true on my records. Scott Lamps and Jordan Cohen, who played on both of my records, also studied at UW–Madison and I credit them for a lot of what I love about my recordings. They are very refined musicians, which allows for the records to seem very “loose” and groove-oriented.

You recently released your second album, Singer in the Band. What were your goals in putting it together?

I wanted to develop my style even more on Singer in the Band. Providence [released in 2010] was a way to figure out what it would sound like to put the chopping technique into soul/pop music and what my voice would be like on top of it all. I could push the boundaries a bit more on Singer having the foundation of Providence.

How is this album different from your first release? How have you changed as an artist over this time?

This album is freer than Providence. I was much more comfortable with my vision and the process of making the record. I knew I had done it once so I knew I could do it again. That “security” led to bigger singing, risks in the songwriting, and confidence in the production of it. Confidence is one of those things that develops over a lifetime. With it, the risks get bigger. The results then can be that much better ... or that much worse! Either way it’s pushing yourself to evolve as an artist that is important to me at least, and I feel I did that on Singer.

Where did you find inspiration for your songs?

I find inspiration everywhere and anywhere! Newspaper articles, family situations, friendships. I love that about it. You really never know where it’s coming from next.

How did “No (We Won’t Take It)” come about?

“No” came about after I dropped a friend off at the Union downtown while the protests were starting. I was trying to get back home but the crowds were so overwhelming it was very difficult. I was so taken by the fact that that many people would get together in the middle of the day to make a statement about something they believed so strongly in. I wanted to capture that energy and the statement people were making.

What’s your favorite part of making music? And what keeps you going and inspired?

Music is very inherent in who I am as a person. I began purs - Madison Magazine


Soulful, bold and honest.

That’s how Duluth native Ida Jo describes her music.

Her very first musical memories are of her mother packing her up in the family Corolla and bringing her to see Greg Brown in concert. She begged her parents for a violin at age 6, but didn’t start singing seriously until her college days, when she joined an a cappella ensemble. It was an odd and interesting start to a young woman’s musical career.

Today the Madison resident has a new, sophomore recording called “Singer in the Band.”

It features an interesting mix of very personal songs built around her expressive alto, with a couple of friends providing the rhythmic foundation on which Ida Jo can spread her wings. Her fiddle is used texturally and subtly and blends into the overall picture in subdued tones.

“When My Ship Comes In” is a contemplative ballad with soulful, understated piano from Scott Lamps.

“No (We Won’t Take It)” is a funky little protest song that could be Occupy Duluth’s theme song: “No we won’t take it said a voice from the crowd, no we won’t take it we will all stand our ground.”

“Judgment” is a rollicking back-beat driven track with hand claps and percussive fiddle.

One of the peculiarities of “Singer in the Band” is Ida Jo’s frequent use of non-standard time signatures. At least a third of the disc is made up of tracks in 5/4 (think Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five”) or something equally exotic. For fairly straight-ahead singer-songwriter material, it is an unusual twist. Most musicians, even very brilliant instrumentalists, don’t feel that at home outside of 4/4 or 3/4 time.

Add to that Ida Jo’s technique of combining her classical background (beginning with the standard Suzuki method) with folk fiddle stylings including “chopping” into something very individual where she can play rhythm, harmony and melody at the same time. This is something that some of the most brilliant guitarists work their way into, but I’ve never heard a violinist do the same.

Her resume includes being the recipient of the Emerson Scholarship to the Interlochen Arts Camps, plus performances at the Winnipeg Folk Festival and SXSW. She’s a veteran of countless Texas Fiddle contests, and she studied the violin in the context of Finnish folk music.

She’s gifted, she’s accomplished, and she’s still only 24 years old. - Duluth News-Tribune


Only a year after her 2010 debut, Providence, singer-violinist Ida Jo returned with her newest album, Singer In The Band, which continues to expand on her innovative violin work and her soulful vocals. This Wednesday, Nov. 9, the songstress will be performing at The Brink Lounge with other local female singer songwriters in a “songwriters in the round” series showing original songs in a collaborative format. The A.V. Club sat down to chat with Ida about her new album, her future plans, and her passion for Snoop Dogg.
The A.V. Club: When writing your songs, do you first start with the lyrics or the music?
Ida Jo: Usually with the lyrics, but a lot of times that idea comes out of a little bit of an idea for lyrics and a little bit of an idea for how it’s going to sound. I might not start exactly with the melody or chorus, but some sort of idea about the feel and the sound of the song.
AVC: Listening to your music on your Bandcamp site, it’s easy to notice that the stripped down and soulful quality of your voice is really central to the songs you sing.
IJ: Oh, cool. Yeah, definitely.
AVC: Your newest album, Singer In The Band, recently came out this past August. How does this album differ musically from your previous album, Providence?
IJ: Well, when I was working on it, I didn’t think that it would be all that different, like I wasn’t making conscious decisions to change it, but it definitely ended up being quite different. One reason was that it was a year later and I had kind of settled in to what I was going for. When I did Providence, it was really kind of out of nowhere and I didn’t really know what it was going to end up like. So having Providence done, I had sort of had an idea about what would happen when you put these instruments together and that kind of thing. So yeah, I guess I wasn’t quite sure how it would differ, but it ended up being a lot more soulful and a lot more edgy at times. The songs aren’t necessarily standard forms of songs or standard chord progressions. I don’t know if that was really conscious, it was just kind of what I was finding interesting at the time, and I pursued that. So it’s definitely a different aesthetic and more explorative I guess.
AVC: I read about the violin “chopping” technique that you use. On Singer, where can we listen for that specifically?
IJ: It’s almost on pretty much every song. On “Judgment” it’s pretty clear. It kind of starts with the piano, but when the violin comes in, it’s really stark and you can hear the percussive quality of the sound. Also, in the title track, “Singer In The Band,” it starts with just my voice, but when the violin comes in, you can kind of hear the style and sound it makes.
AVC: How would you describe chopping to someone who isn’t familiar with violin music?
IJ: Sure. Yeah, it’s basically like a percussive, rhythmic way to play the violin. It acts somewhat like what maybe an acoustic guitar would do rhythmically.
AVC: Is there a song off of the new album that you especially like to play live?
IJ: It’s probably “Judgment” and “Diamonds And Gold.” They’re both really big singing songs. Some of the other songs are low, rhythmic, and smooth, and I like those, too, for different reasons. On both “Judgment” and “Diamonds And Gold” I just get to let it rip, and I like that really wide-open and honest type of singing.
AVC: Do you ever do cover songs, and if so, what songs do you like to play?
IJ: Yeah! A song that we love doing is “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” by The Band, and that’s kind of fun, because I introduce it as a sing-a-long and I don’t know if people know what to expect. I like that song because it’s the kind of song where everyone knows it, but it’s not something you hear everyday. And it’s got that really soulful storytelling quality to it. For a while, another we were doing was a Grace Potter And The Nocturnals. Do you know them? We play “Big White Gate” that tells a clear story and is really soulful. I really love that song as well.
AVC: Yeah I really like that song, too. It would definitely be a cool surprise to hear “Big White Gate” at a show.
IJ: Oh, I’m glad you know it! It adds a lot to the set, I think, to bring in. If you use covers well, I think it brings such a depth to the music that I don’t think you can get if they’re all your songs.
AVC: As with the recent Lou Reed and Metallica album, Lulu, as well as the Jack White and Insane Clown Posse song “Leck Mich Im Arsch,” would you ever consider lending your voice to a hip-hop or metal album?
IJ: Yeah definitely! [Laughs.] That’s really funny you say that, because in the past, I’ve actually been a really big Snoop Dogg fan. Which is really funny, I know all of the words to every song on Doggystyle, which is strange. But anyway, in the past, I’ve been like, “Geez, maybe I could do a song with Snoop Dogg?” That’d probably be interesting, if nothing else. [Laughs.]
AVC: That’d be awesome. I’m sure Madison would look forward to hearing a col - AV Club Madison


It’s not very often that I hear music that truly stands apart, but Ida Ida caught me off
guard with her music that is innovative and new, yet familiar and relatable at the same
time. I felt like she was not only telling my story with her latest album, but my mama’s
story as well, and perhaps my daughter’s story, too. Singer in the Band is music that
transcends time and is perfectly relevant in the moment. I was curious to know a little
more about this musician’s journey and how she got to where she is today.

Relate: Describe yourself in three words:

Ida Jo: Honest. Steady. Focused.

R: Now describe your music in three words:

I: Soulful. Bold. Honest.

R: How old were you when you discovered you could sing?

I: I didn’t seriously start singing until college. But, I was six when I got the urge to play
violin. I begged my mother for lessons, and have been playing ever since. In college, I
started singing in an a cappella group. That was a great way to ease into voice. I could
sing without having to be a soloist right away. Soon after that I started singing harmony
in a band. Again, it was a good way to explore my voice without a lot of pressure. From
there, I just jumped right in to my first record! To me, my instruments (violin and voice)
are very connected. A lot of the knowledge transfers from one to the other. I wouldn’t
be as comfortable singing as I am without all of the classical violin lessons.

R: What is it about the violin that made you choose that instrument?

I: I have no idea! My aunt played violin, so I was exposed to it in that way. That’s the
closest thing I can come up with.

R: Has there ever been anything other than music that you’ve wanted to pursue?

I: No.

R: First memory of music:

I: That’s tough. My best answer is driving with my mom in our brown Toyota Corolla
to a Greg Brown concert. My mom has always been a big music appreciator. We always
had music on in the house and she frequently took me to see live shows. I think this is
the first show I remember.

R: Name one song you wish you had written:

I: “Joyful Girl” by Ani DiFranco

R: What has been the biggest challenge to you as a musician? What encourages you to
persevere?

I: The biggest challenge is when I think about how many musicians are out there trying
to “make it.” But then I remember that that is not what it’s about for me. Of course I’d
love to be successful, but I’ll be a musician regardless. The other part of that is avoiding
all the questions that lead to a big pile of self doubt. Is that song good enough? How
does my voice sound? Am I good enough? I have come to find those questions are
meaningless anyway. First, I can answer them a million different ways. And second,
they don’t change who I am or what I’m doing. I have come to change the questions.
Would I rather be doing something else with my time? Probably not. Can I make
what I’m working on right now, better? From there I find I can go in many different
directions, most of which are productive.

R: Tell me about your favorite opportunity that you’ve had that you wouldn’t have
experienced if you hadn’t chosen music.

I: I’ve been able to travel a lot due to music. I am very lucky to have seen the parts
of the world that I have. I love the humbling effect that traveling has. It’s easy to get
comfortable in your home life. You go to the same places, see the same people. There is
nothing like being reminded how big the world is and how different life is for everyone.
When you travel for music, you’re also reminded how universal music is.

R: Best advice you could give to girls who are uncertain about their futures:

I: My advice is to be patient and work hard. Everything takes a tremendous amount
of time and effort to develop. That can be true for deciding what path to take, and it is
definitely true for developing your craft once you’ve chosen what direction to take. So
make peace with the process. If you are unsure about your direction, try to discover
what you are drawn to naturally. What fascinates you? What do you think is an area you
could give back to? But again, be patient. As long as you’re searching, the answers will
come. They always say life is a journey, not a destination. Nobody wakes up one day
and is an expert with the perfect job. The point is how you get there. It’s about the work
you put in and the experiences you gain while doing so. The point is to find a path that is
sustainable. A path that you can pursue joyfully. - Relate Magazine


It’s easy to look at the cover of this album, see the title Singer in a Band, and think you have this artist figured out without even listening. But if you do that, then you’re doing yourself a disservice. This isn’t some melancholy girl who labels herself as a singer/songwriter.

She’s very far from that. Very, very far.

In fact, just the title “Singer in a Band” is a gigantic understatement. Her voice has the vibrancy of Adele with the soul of Joss Stone. It has the color of history. All the emotion of the sixties, the passion of injustice, and the conviction of someone who has the intelligence, talent, and strength to change it all comes from her mouth. I am empowered by the sound of her voice alone; and all that comes from not even considering what she is saying.

She is so much more than a singer. Even if she didn’t play an instrument, her voice would be enough.

Thankfully, however, she does play an instrument. Her violin adds a depth to songs, so much that without it, they would be barren. In fact, after listening a couple times through and then listening to other singers similar to Ida, I wanted nothing more than those strings pulsing themselves through what I previously thought was good and now consider rather average. Her music goes to a different level. And if you take a listen and ask yourself, “What is that? I’ve never heard that before,” like I did, than you would be correct. She is one of a dozen or so violinists who utilize a method called “chopping.” The effect is absolutely riveting.

Singer in a Band is more musically driven than lyrically driven; I found as a listener that I felt my way through this album more than I thought my way through it. But that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have something to say or that she isn’t insightful; quite the contrary. “No (We Won’t Take It)” is political activism at its finest. “The Rising,” although addressed as a “he” could be expanded to include government as well, a government that underestimates the strength of a people who are so tired of being suppressed, they gather courage they themselves didn’t know they had. “Mama Always Said” is also about independence from a drunken man, but I found the most empowering thing about mama wasn’t what she said but the example she set to her daughter by leaving after a beating.

Strength, I believe, doesn’t come from someone who doesn’t understand insecurity. There are songs that explore Ida’s shortcomings, or what she sees as such anyway. In “Judgement,” she realizes that she has not only been the victim of it but one who uses it as well. She explores why we go to such a low place. In “So Can I,” listeners get a glimpse of a girl who wants to be more than she is and questions how she can, “Afterall, I’m pretty small.” My favorite song, “Diamonds and Gold,” contains the lyrics “didn’t know how to turn my burden into diamonds and gold.” After something has been stolen, she questions how to turn it into something good, but it has that feel of a door closing and a window opening. What seems as crushed dreams in the moment can feel as though something that wasn’t meant to be as time goes on and other dreams are realized and revealed. What we thought sparkled before is taken away and we have to find something not something so superficial deep within the soul; hope and perseverance.

Singer in a Band is an album that stares into the pool of reflection and finds hope staring
back. It’s through loss that we find what is important to us and what is worth fighting
for. This album is the fruit of a musician’s labor, and an artist’s expression of what
matters to her. It is beautifully displayed and shared. - Relate Magazine


IDA JO – Singer in the Band

(2011 Self-Release)

The second release from Ida Jo takes a turn toward the introspective. Recorded by a trio that includes Scott Lamps on piano and bass (who also engineered and produced) and Jordan Cohen on drums, the twelve songs are surprisingly vocal-centric. Most are slower tempo with spare backing tracks. Lamps’ piano, for instance, is mixed way down to an almost imperceptible level much of the time. The rhythm tracks are also understated resulting in the focus on the voice and melody. Unless my ears deceive me there are also sporadic guitars, though these go uncredited.

A couple of the tracks, “The Rising” and “No,” likely relate to recent political events, especially the latter. These don’t work quite as well as the more introspective songs and at times there is an aching for more instrumentation and feel. Nonetheless, Ida Jo’s voice is stronger and more confident as she’s not reluctant to put it center stage.

There is a distinct gospel undercurrent throughout which comes to the fore in the aptly named “Judgement” made complete with stomps and handclaps. Things get a bit jazzy (as in lounge) on “When My Ship Comes In,” one of three tracks penned by Lamps. Here the brushes used on the drums and the break to a 6/8 feel between stanzas are nice touches. Another Lamps composition, “Mama Always Said” employs 70’s soul a la Roberta Flack and any number of wah-guitar augmented selections from that era. Written from the female perspective, this one is a clear man warning.

The balance of the songs are meditative aside from “Quick Dance,” where the violin is used liberally in a nearly five-minute improv at the end. “For the Joy” is most beat-driven and here is where more instrumentation might have spiced tings up.

“Diamonds and Gold,” co-written with Lamps is a standout, showcasing Ida Jo’s vocals and layered violins. The title track is in a similar vein, smooth and soulful. The finale, another Lamps composition titled “Wind and Rain” has an Irish flavor to it.

Id Jo is obviously a driven artist with two releases in as many years while also guesting on several other recordings. She’s one of those “involved” people too – a special breed – evidenced by her leading the Midnight Voices a capella group of high school women, who nearly stole the show at this year’s MAMAs. It’s a good bet that she will find the perfect blend of players and material that will catapult her music beyond the mere sum of its parts. When and if that happens, there could be no stopping her. – Rick Tvedt - Local Sounds Magazine


IDA JO – Singer in the Band

(2011 Self-Release)

The second release from Ida Jo takes a turn toward the introspective. Recorded by a trio that includes Scott Lamps on piano and bass (who also engineered and produced) and Jordan Cohen on drums, the twelve songs are surprisingly vocal-centric. Most are slower tempo with spare backing tracks. Lamps’ piano, for instance, is mixed way down to an almost imperceptible level much of the time. The rhythm tracks are also understated resulting in the focus on the voice and melody. Unless my ears deceive me there are also sporadic guitars, though these go uncredited.

A couple of the tracks, “The Rising” and “No,” likely relate to recent political events, especially the latter. These don’t work quite as well as the more introspective songs and at times there is an aching for more instrumentation and feel. Nonetheless, Ida Jo’s voice is stronger and more confident as she’s not reluctant to put it center stage.

There is a distinct gospel undercurrent throughout which comes to the fore in the aptly named “Judgement” made complete with stomps and handclaps. Things get a bit jazzy (as in lounge) on “When My Ship Comes In,” one of three tracks penned by Lamps. Here the brushes used on the drums and the break to a 6/8 feel between stanzas are nice touches. Another Lamps composition, “Mama Always Said” employs 70’s soul a la Roberta Flack and any number of wah-guitar augmented selections from that era. Written from the female perspective, this one is a clear man warning.

The balance of the songs are meditative aside from “Quick Dance,” where the violin is used liberally in a nearly five-minute improv at the end. “For the Joy” is most beat-driven and here is where more instrumentation might have spiced tings up.

“Diamonds and Gold,” co-written with Lamps is a standout, showcasing Ida Jo’s vocals and layered violins. The title track is in a similar vein, smooth and soulful. The finale, another Lamps composition titled “Wind and Rain” has an Irish flavor to it.

Id Jo is obviously a driven artist with two releases in as many years while also guesting on several other recordings. She’s one of those “involved” people too – a special breed – evidenced by her leading the Midnight Voices a capella group of high school women, who nearly stole the show at this year’s MAMAs. It’s a good bet that she will find the perfect blend of players and material that will catapult her music beyond the mere sum of its parts. When and if that happens, there could be no stopping her. – Rick Tvedt - Local Sounds Magazine


Madison, by way of Duluth, artist Ida Jo's second album Singer in the Band finds the musician performing a serious mix of R&B, gospel and soulful ballads. At first, my impression as an unfamiliar listener to Ida Jo's music was that the lack of guitar, but airy violin presence provides a unique sound to the album.

As with most CDs, a few songs stood out right away. “The Rising” kicks off the CD with the defiant singer belting out in the midst of a tribal drum line. The title track “Singer in the Band” offers only a sample of some of Ida Jo's violin skill while the soft piano dances well with a voice that sounds as if she’s dreaming. Ida Jo's gospel influence appears in “Judgment” alongside the short accents from the percussion and upright bass.


“No (We Won't Take It),” a protest anthem inspired from the recent unrest in Wisconsin politics, displays Ida Jo's most confident vocal work on the album. In “For the Joy of It” a Gaelic-sounding fiddle blends favorably with Scott Lamps's delicate piano work. The loose yet cohesive “Quick Dance” is a personal favorite track of mine, Jordan Cohen is not hesitant to switch up drumming styles as Ida Jo continuously sends a passionate wave of violin that carries the song near the eight minute mark.

Ida Jo clearly wears her heart on her sleeve. She openly expresses her trials, dreams and aspirations throughout the album. After the first few tracks, one can feel her passion shining bright despite her lyrics telling a more somber tale. That said, in a few songs, primarily “Diamonds and Gold,” the singer almost appears to be holding back on her vocals to allow the beautiful classical violin and soft piano accompaniment shine.

Whatever a musician may be feeling or experiencing at the time of recording an album can often be projected through the sound of their music. The lyrics of this album indicate that the singer is still trying to find what she's looking for. It piques my curiosity to imagine what kind of joy Ida Jo could project as she continues her journey down her musical path.
- Dane101


Ida Jo's 2010 debut CD, Providence, was notable for its particular use of the violin in a pop context. Typically, pop artists use string sections, often sampled, to make their songs cinematic. Not Ida Jo. Having studied violin performance at UW-Madison, the local singer-songwriter used her instrument largely as a guitar substitute that carried the riffs and melodies of her songs.

On Singer in the Band, Ida Jo continues that approach while giving greater emphasis to her vocal interpretations. The result is an album with much greater emotional range.

Ida Jo's voice is refined enough to conjure reflection and edgy enough to stir agitation. Her edgy side leads the way on "No (We Won't Take It), an anthem of working-class political resistance. "Mama Always Said" is drenched in the heartache of destructive relationships.

But the delicate "Diamonds and Gold" shows Ida Jo can also confront sadness with a soothing and healing tone. Scott Lamps' piano work adds richness to a CD that moves Ida Jo's music career another step forward. - Isthmus Daily Page


Ida Jo's 2010 debut CD, Providence, was notable for its particular use of the violin in a pop context. Typically, pop artists use string sections, often sampled, to make their songs cinematic. Not Ida Jo. Having studied violin performance at UW-Madison, the local singer-songwriter used her instrument largely as a guitar substitute that carried the riffs and melodies of her songs.

On Singer in the Band, Ida Jo continues that approach while giving greater emphasis to her vocal interpretations. The result is an album with much greater emotional range.

Ida Jo's voice is refined enough to conjure reflection and edgy enough to stir agitation. Her edgy side leads the way on "No (We Won't Take It), an anthem of working-class political resistance. "Mama Always Said" is drenched in the heartache of destructive relationships.

But the delicate "Diamonds and Gold" shows Ida Jo can also confront sadness with a soothing and healing tone. Scott Lamps' piano work adds richness to a CD that moves Ida Jo's music career another step forward. - Isthmus Daily Page


Most kids growing up experience the angst and frustration of the dreaded weeknight piano lessons or cello practices that were so forced upon them by their loving parents. Yet very few children possessed the optimism about learning music as Ida Jo did, let alone suggesting to her parents she needed violin lessons.

“I was 7 when I began playing the violin,” she said. “But I was 6 when I started begging my mom to play it. It wasn’t forced upon me like a lot of the other kids. I’ve always wanted to play.”

Now 23, Jo is a classically trained violinist. She will perform what took all those years of practice to achieve at 9 p.m. Saturday at the Mill, 120 E. Burlington St. Accompanying her will be University of Iowa alumna and local resident Natalie Brown, who will display her talents with the violin.

Admission is $8.

While the two share playing the violin, they have their own styles. Jo describes her technique as more rhythmic than what people normally expect from a typical performance.

“When people hear the violin, they tend to think really melodic, smooth, or even like a classical or fiddle hoedown kind of thing,” she said. “Instead, I use my bow to create a rhythmic sound with the violin, a style that’s referred to as ‘chopping,’ and I play that style to give it more of a percussive feel to it.”

Brown has her own ways of playing the instrument so that she’s never musically confined. After studying classical music and playing the violin at the UI, she played in a number of local bands, and she teaches orchestra at Cedar Rapids Washington High. She tends to play her violin like a rock star shreds his Flying V guitar and notes the crowd’s astonishment about her style.

“That’s why I love playing so much is because people don’t expect it,” she said. “I hook my violin up to different kinds of guitar pedals and distortion sounds, and I solo with it. I try to make it more of a rock instrument, and while I have classical training, I try not to make it sound that way.”

She is excited about playing alongside Jo on Saturday as well as having the chance to perform original songs from her début album, *Violin Crossings*, released last year. Brown, who grew up in Iowa City, says that most of the album features a number of local musicians as well as different instruments.

“This is our first chance to show all these different styles we can do on the violin,” Brown said. “The album also had 15 local musicians on it, which was great. There’s so much happening musically on the album, especially with crossing over into other genres.”

After all the hard work and weeknight violin lessons, things seem to be paying off for Jo and Brown. Even when the going got tough, Jo always found the time to pay her dues and eventually master the strings, something she thinks every aspiring musician should realize.

“Stick with it,” she said. “It certainly always hasn’t been fun and easy, and there’s times when you struggle with it and don’t want to play. But a lot of people come up after the show and tell me, ‘I used to play violin, and I wish I had stuck with it,’ so it’s definitely something you can have for the rest of your life and can always play no matter where you are or how old you get.” - The Daily Iowan


Most kids growing up experience the angst and frustration of the dreaded weeknight piano lessons or cello practices that were so forced upon them by their loving parents. Yet very few children possessed the optimism about learning music as Ida Jo did, let alone suggesting to her parents she needed violin lessons.

“I was 7 when I began playing the violin,” she said. “But I was 6 when I started begging my mom to play it. It wasn’t forced upon me like a lot of the other kids. I’ve always wanted to play.”

Now 23, Jo is a classically trained violinist. She will perform what took all those years of practice to achieve at 9 p.m. Saturday at the Mill, 120 E. Burlington St. Accompanying her will be University of Iowa alumna and local resident Natalie Brown, who will display her talents with the violin.

Admission is $8.

While the two share playing the violin, they have their own styles. Jo describes her technique as more rhythmic than what people normally expect from a typical performance.

“When people hear the violin, they tend to think really melodic, smooth, or even like a classical or fiddle hoedown kind of thing,” she said. “Instead, I use my bow to create a rhythmic sound with the violin, a style that’s referred to as ‘chopping,’ and I play that style to give it more of a percussive feel to it.”

Brown has her own ways of playing the instrument so that she’s never musically confined. After studying classical music and playing the violin at the UI, she played in a number of local bands, and she teaches orchestra at Cedar Rapids Washington High. She tends to play her violin like a rock star shreds his Flying V guitar and notes the crowd’s astonishment about her style.

“That’s why I love playing so much is because people don’t expect it,” she said. “I hook my violin up to different kinds of guitar pedals and distortion sounds, and I solo with it. I try to make it more of a rock instrument, and while I have classical training, I try not to make it sound that way.”

She is excited about playing alongside Jo on Saturday as well as having the chance to perform original songs from her début album, *Violin Crossings*, released last year. Brown, who grew up in Iowa City, says that most of the album features a number of local musicians as well as different instruments.

“This is our first chance to show all these different styles we can do on the violin,” Brown said. “The album also had 15 local musicians on it, which was great. There’s so much happening musically on the album, especially with crossing over into other genres.”

After all the hard work and weeknight violin lessons, things seem to be paying off for Jo and Brown. Even when the going got tough, Jo always found the time to pay her dues and eventually master the strings, something she thinks every aspiring musician should realize.

“Stick with it,” she said. “It certainly always hasn’t been fun and easy, and there’s times when you struggle with it and don’t want to play. But a lot of people come up after the show and tell me, ‘I used to play violin, and I wish I had stuck with it,’ so it’s definitely something you can have for the rest of your life and can always play no matter where you are or how old you get.” - The Daily Iowan


Not everyone realizes a fiddle is the same as a violin. It's how the instrument is being played that determines what it's called. Local violin diva Ida Jo says people ask her about the difference all the time. The thing is, it's easier to show the answer than to tell it.

Her new song "Colors" takes a bit from both worlds -- classical violin technique and Americana fiddling tradition -- to prove just how much her instrument can do. At one moment, she's weaving in and out of a scale at lightning speed, and at others, she's "chopping," using her bow as a percussion instrument by tapping it on the violin's body. You can tell she's a classically trained Suzuki student, but she's also a master of Texas-style fiddling, Finnish folk fiddling and all sorts of other string-playing wonders.

But Ida's music isn't just about her trusty fiddle: She can do something that singer and fiddler extraordinaire Alison Krauss doesn't even attempt. She sings while playing her instrument. And this isn't just a bit of humming or a quick la-la-la.

In "Colors," her haunting alto paints a picture of a mother telling her child to stand tall in the face of oppression. "This song came from a class I took at UW-Madison that discussed racism in U.S. popular culture," Ida says. "During this class, when I couldn't pay attention any longer, I'd work on the song in my head."

I'm not sure how she fared on her exam, but this song earns an A, and what an effort. Its combination of a stark and simple vocal and complicated instrumental licks makes it a head-turner at her live shows and a highlight of her new album, Providence.

"The hook it pretty virtuosic, but the repetitive bass line give it a trance feel," Ida says.

She also says this track is a good example of what to expect from Providence. "At times, it's dark and dramatic, but at other points light and quirky. 'Colors finds some middle ground,'" she says.

Listen to an mp3 of "Colors" in the related files at right. More music by Ida Jo is available on her website, and information about upcoming shows is available on her Facebook page. Listen to selections from Providence and other treats when she performs at the High Noon Saloon on Wednesday, December 15. - Isthmus Daily Page


At such a young age, Ida Jo has already logged a lot of time on the violin and garnered much respect to go along with her accomplished music. As a member of bands like the Compass Rose, she’s added depth with her strings and even found time to push the boundaries of her playing, pioneering a “chopping” technique that punches up proceedings by percussively attacking the strings. Now with the recently released solo effort, Providence, Ida Jo And The Show—including bassist Scott Lamps and drummer Fred Ecenrode—put together easy pop music for crowds to gather around and bask in Ida Jo’s warm voice and inventive yet accessible violin work. - AV Club


At such a young age, Ida Jo has already logged a lot of time on the violin and garnered much respect to go along with her accomplished music. As a member of bands like the Compass Rose, she’s added depth with her strings and even found time to push the boundaries of her playing, pioneering a “chopping” technique that punches up proceedings by percussively attacking the strings. Now with the recently released solo effort, Providence, Ida Jo And The Show—including bassist Scott Lamps and drummer Fred Ecenrode—put together easy pop music for crowds to gather around and bask in Ida Jo’s warm voice and inventive yet accessible violin work. - AV Club


Not everyone realizes a fiddle is the same as a violin. It's how the instrument is being played that determines what it's called. Local violin diva Ida Jo says people ask her about the difference all the time. The thing is, it's easier to show the answer than to tell it.

Her new song "Colors" takes a bit from both worlds -- classical violin technique and Americana fiddling tradition -- to prove just how much her instrument can do. At one moment, she's weaving in and out of a scale at lightning speed, and at others, she's "chopping," using her bow as a percussion instrument by tapping it on the violin's body. You can tell she's a classically trained Suzuki student, but she's also a master of Texas-style fiddling, Finnish folk fiddling and all sorts of other string-playing wonders.

But Ida's music isn't just about her trusty fiddle: She can do something that singer and fiddler extraordinaire Alison Krauss doesn't even attempt. She sings while playing her instrument. And this isn't just a bit of humming or a quick la-la-la.

In "Colors," her haunting alto paints a picture of a mother telling her child to stand tall in the face of oppression. "This song came from a class I took at UW-Madison that discussed racism in U.S. popular culture," Ida says. "During this class, when I couldn't pay attention any longer, I'd work on the song in my head."

I'm not sure how she fared on her exam, but this song earns an A, and what an effort. Its combination of a stark and simple vocal and complicated instrumental licks makes it a head-turner at her live shows and a highlight of her new album, Providence.

"The hook it pretty virtuosic, but the repetitive bass line give it a trance feel," Ida says.

She also says this track is a good example of what to expect from Providence. "At times, it's dark and dramatic, but at other points light and quirky. 'Colors finds some middle ground,'" she says.

Listen to an mp3 of "Colors" in the related files at right. More music by Ida Jo is available on her website, and information about upcoming shows is available on her Facebook page. Listen to selections from Providence and other treats when she performs at the High Noon Saloon on Wednesday, December 15. - Isthmus Daily Page


Not everyone realizes a fiddle is the same as a violin. It's how the instrument is being played that determines what it's called. Local violin diva Ida Jo says people ask her about the difference all the time. The thing is, it's easier to show the answer than to tell it.

Her new song "Colors" takes a bit from both worlds -- classical violin technique and Americana fiddling tradition -- to prove just how much her instrument can do. At one moment, she's weaving in and out of a scale at lightning speed, and at others, she's "chopping," using her bow as a percussion instrument by tapping it on the violin's body. You can tell she's a classically trained Suzuki student, but she's also a master of Texas-style fiddling, Finnish folk fiddling and all sorts of other string-playing wonders.

But Ida's music isn't just about her trusty fiddle: She can do something that singer and fiddler extraordinaire Alison Krauss doesn't even attempt. She sings while playing her instrument. And this isn't just a bit of humming or a quick la-la-la.

In "Colors," her haunting alto paints a picture of a mother telling her child to stand tall in the face of oppression. "This song came from a class I took at UW-Madison that discussed racism in U.S. popular culture," Ida says. "During this class, when I couldn't pay attention any longer, I'd work on the song in my head."

I'm not sure how she fared on her exam, but this song earns an A, and what an effort. Its combination of a stark and simple vocal and complicated instrumental licks makes it a head-turner at her live shows and a highlight of her new album, Providence.

"The hook it pretty virtuosic, but the repetitive bass line give it a trance feel," Ida says.

She also says this track is a good example of what to expect from Providence. "At times, it's dark and dramatic, but at other points light and quirky. 'Colors finds some middle ground,'" she says.

Listen to an mp3 of "Colors" in the related files at right. More music by Ida Jo is available on her website, and information about upcoming shows is available on her Facebook page. Listen to selections from Providence and other treats when she performs at the High Noon Saloon on Wednesday, December 15. - Isthmus Daily Page


Not everyone realizes a fiddle is the same as a violin. It's how the instrument is being played that determines what it's called. Local violin diva Ida Jo says people ask her about the difference all the time. The thing is, it's easier to show the answer than to tell it.

Her new song "Colors" takes a bit from both worlds -- classical violin technique and Americana fiddling tradition -- to prove just how much her instrument can do. At one moment, she's weaving in and out of a scale at lightning speed, and at others, she's "chopping," using her bow as a percussion instrument by tapping it on the violin's body. You can tell she's a classically trained Suzuki student, but she's also a master of Texas-style fiddling, Finnish folk fiddling and all sorts of other string-playing wonders.

But Ida's music isn't just about her trusty fiddle: She can do something that singer and fiddler extraordinaire Alison Krauss doesn't even attempt. She sings while playing her instrument. And this isn't just a bit of humming or a quick la-la-la.

In "Colors," her haunting alto paints a picture of a mother telling her child to stand tall in the face of oppression. "This song came from a class I took at UW-Madison that discussed racism in U.S. popular culture," Ida says. "During this class, when I couldn't pay attention any longer, I'd work on the song in my head."

I'm not sure how she fared on her exam, but this song earns an A, and what an effort. Its combination of a stark and simple vocal and complicated instrumental licks makes it a head-turner at her live shows and a highlight of her new album, Providence.

"The hook it pretty virtuosic, but the repetitive bass line give it a trance feel," Ida says.

She also says this track is a good example of what to expect from Providence. "At times, it's dark and dramatic, but at other points light and quirky. 'Colors finds some middle ground,'" she says.

Listen to an mp3 of "Colors" in the related files at right. More music by Ida Jo is available on her website, and information about upcoming shows is available on her Facebook page. Listen to selections from Providence and other treats when she performs at the High Noon Saloon on Wednesday, December 15. - Isthmus Daily Page


Madison, WI based fiddle-front folk trio Ida Jo & The Show made the trek over to Minneapolis on September 17th to perform at the Driftless Music Showcase at Acadia. In addition to Ida's warm singing voice, I was impressed by the group's versatility and improvisational skills.

Feeling inspired and wanting to capture some of the good vibes, I happened to turn on my camera just as Ida started playing the regional classic "Driftless" by Greg Brown (Red House Records). It was a pleasant surprise to say the least! And while Acadia doesn't allow cover songs (because they choose not to pay ASCAP / BMI public performance fees), there's nothing wrong with covering an ode to the Driftless by a fellow independent musician that not everyone in the room would necessarily recognize. I'm sure Mr. Brown would approve at least. At any rate, be sure to check out Ida's lovely violin solo in the video of this serendipitous cover song below.
- Driftless Music


Madison, WI based fiddle-front folk trio Ida Jo & The Show made the trek over to Minneapolis on September 17th to perform at the Driftless Music Showcase at Acadia. In addition to Ida's warm singing voice, I was impressed by the group's versatility and improvisational skills.

Feeling inspired and wanting to capture some of the good vibes, I happened to turn on my camera just as Ida started playing the regional classic "Driftless" by Greg Brown (Red House Records). It was a pleasant surprise to say the least! And while Acadia doesn't allow cover songs (because they choose not to pay ASCAP / BMI public performance fees), there's nothing wrong with covering an ode to the Driftless by a fellow independent musician that not everyone in the room would necessarily recognize. I'm sure Mr. Brown would approve at least. At any rate, be sure to check out Ida's lovely violin solo in the video of this serendipitous cover song below.
- Driftless Music


Emmie Magazine Fall Issue ’10

IDA JO

Providence

[Self-Released]

7,800

Previously, Ida Jo has done many recordings and performances with Mike Droho and Compass Rose. With this self-released album, she has begun to distinguish herself as a unique local artist. Most tracks on the album incorporate only violin, drums and bass, but the album sounds much bigger than the sum of its parts. Jo’s voice is powerful and soulful, expertly delivering her lyrics, which focus and the complications of love, family and providence. The most notable aspect of Providence, however, is the violin, which she plays in a masterful and unexpected fashion. Rather than building emotive swells during interludes or busting out 1000mph raging fiddle solos, Jo uses her violin rhythmically not unlike an acoustic guitar. The opening track, “Colors,” kicks the album off in a great way. Jo’s vocals sound great during the verses and her intense violin riffs progress in interesting ways during the chorus. “These Days” and “Eileen” are similarly upbeat and my favorites on the album. Unfortunately, some tracks are more successful than others. I found the slower tracks “Proud,” “He’ll Never Know,” and the titular track to be dull and predictable. Overall, Providence is an enjoyable and unique blend of pop and folk that I’d recommend to anyone.
- josiah SAVARY

- Emmie Music Magazine


Welcome to the first of many articles on New Female Singers-2010.

Today I would like to introduce you to one of the best new female singers today, Ida Jo. This women has a beautiful voice and has played the violin since she was seven. She received an Emerson Scholarship to Interlochen Arts Center at the age of fourteen and began performing at fifteen.

Ida Jo doesn't just play the violin, she has a relationship with it. Ida Jo's violin playing is so unique because she has studied so many different types of fiddling, classic being one of them. She mostly uses a unique style called "chopping". "Chopping" is a folk fiddle style.

I want to thank Ida Jo for agreeing to the interview with New Female Singers 2010. She has been absolutely wonderful. I admired her previously, but after working with her my respect has grown even deeper. What a wonderful, hard working, and passionate artist she is. - Female Music Singers


Week 2: Pop with strings attached

Ida Jo
Mother Fool's Coffeehouse, 1101 Williamson St., Saturday, Sept. 18, 8 pm

Local music doesn't follow a format, and Ida Jo is proof. The local violinist's debut album blends luxurious strings with bass and drums while avoiding rootsy fiddle or orchestral indie clichés. The understated way she plays on "Eileen" helps establish the song's bottled-up emotional feel. At the microphone, Ida Jo shows herself to be a soulful vocalist.

Before fronting her own band, Ida Jo played in another Madison group, Mike Droho & the Compass Rose. Her backing bassist is Compass Rose bassist Scott Lamps. Fred Ecenrode plays drums. The trio perform as Ida Jo & the Show.

Mother Fool's Coffeehouse is Willy Street's longstanding eclectic art and music space. Co-owned by a couple of scenesters themselves, Jon Hain and Stephanie Rearick, Mother Fool's is perfect for those who like to watch a local gig and eat a vegan muffin, too.
- Isthmus l The Daily Page


IDA JO – Providence

(2010 Self-Release)


Ida Jo has been performing and recording with Mike Droho and the Compass Rose for some time, providing violin and backup vocals. She’s appeared on albums by Scott Lamps, Tangled Up in Blue and fellow Compass Rose mate Anthony Lamarr’s upcoming release. She was also part of the stellar backup band Lamps put together to back Mark Harrod on his Quietly Marching CD. Providence, her first recording, is very different and refreshingly so. Ida Jo combines soulful, rhythm and blues with a folk sensibility and jazz elements to create something uniquely her own. The trio that recorded this album is indicative of its diversity as the lineup is unusual: Ida Jo on vocals and violin, Scott Lamps (who also produced) on bass and Jordan Cohen on drums (Fred Ecenrode is currently playing drums with the group). Mike Zirkel, the engineer extraordinaire from the late Smart Studios, is also credited and there are keyboards on the album so perhaps Zirkel played these parts. Lamps also plays banjo on one of the tracks.

Perhaps most surprising is not Ida Jo’s violin playing, which is stellar, but her vocals. The twelve songs on Providence are basically vocal songs in the three-minute range. Her voice has a pleasing timbre, a rich alto with very little vibrato. Her pitch can lean a bit flat in spots but when she hits the notes just right, she soars. She’s not charted an easy course vocally as these songs have complex melodies that she liberally inflects upon. The violin is employed as a rhythm instrument more than a lead instrument and what solos she does play are brief and to the point. She uses what’s known as a “chopping” method, used by very few fiddle players in the world, to create this rhythmic sound.

The album leads off with what is perhaps the best track, “Colors.” Here the violin gets a bit of the spotlight as well as she uses the song’s central phrase to toss in a fast and fluid run. “Colors” takes 10/4 time and turns it into a cool and breezy pop song. She also introduces dark subject matter that runs throughout the rest of the album; themes of perseverance, self-sustenance, pain, alienation and reaffirmation. The album’s characters are bound together by fate. This approach gives Providence a distinctly American feel.

“Go Easy” is another standout, the moaning organ gives the song a gospel blues feel while Ida Jo delivers one her best vocal performances. This track and two others were written by Lamps. Ida Jo composed the rest of the album. The title track sounds like a Sting song, a deceptively simple chord progression with a beautiful melody line. The violin has an excellent, natural quality throughout, and the perfectly concise solo on “Providence” is a case-in-point that this album is about songs, not soloing. “He’ll Never Know” is a haunting ballad featuring Lamps on banjo. It’s a very well-written (Lamps) track with excellent lyrics. It has a country/Americana feel and when Ida Jo hits the bridge you can feel the confidence in her voice affect her pitch and delivery. “Radio” is similarly haunting, an exercise in minimalism, with just keys and voice. The violin does get a chance to stretch a bit during the middle section on “When it Rains.”

There is little doubt that Ida Jo’s talents are in demand but Providence should give her the platform on which to build her own legacy of songs. It is Ida Jo’s personality that shines through on Providence, and that may be its biggest accomplishment. A personality that is rich in experience and introspection; one that people accept as authentic in artists they appreciate most and is capable of moving them in a genuine and sincere manner. - Local Sounds Magazine


Strings are no stranger to pop music. The Verve used them to compose a "Bittersweet Symphony." But neither are they an everyday presence.

Madison violinist Ida Jo has been embellishing the pop compositions of local band the Compass Rose with dollops of string work for years now. On her debut CD, her use of violin is original and unexpected.

The chord progression that opens "Proud" is tailor-made for acoustic guitar. Instead, Ida Jo plays it to perfection with her favorite instrument.

"Eileen" thrives on understated string work that supports the song's pent-up emotional feel. The track proves that a pop violin doesn't have to be a screaming country fiddle or part of an orchestral indie swell.

Providence is a reminder that pop instrumentation still has lots of boundaries to be pushed. To that end, Ida Jo's violin is a welcome shove. - Isthmus l The Daily Page


Strings are no stranger to pop music. The Verve used them to compose a "Bittersweet Symphony." But neither are they an everyday presence.

Madison violinist Ida Jo has been embellishing the pop compositions of local band the Compass Rose with dollops of string work for years now. On her debut CD, her use of violin is original and unexpected.

The chord progression that opens "Proud" is tailor-made for acoustic guitar. Instead, Ida Jo plays it to perfection with her favorite instrument.

"Eileen" thrives on understated string work that supports the song's pent-up emotional feel. The track proves that a pop violin doesn't have to be a screaming country fiddle or part of an orchestral indie swell.

Providence is a reminder that pop instrumentation still has lots of boundaries to be pushed. To that end, Ida Jo's violin is a welcome shove. - Isthmus l The Daily Page


Discography

For Better For Worse, LP - 2013

Uncharted, LP - 2012 (2013 MAMA Folk/Americana Album of the Year)

No (We Won't Take It), single - Nationwide radio play

Singer In the Band, LP - 2011

Providence, LP - 2010

Photos

Bio

Ida Jo began setting herself apart long ago. A violinist since the age of 7, her childhood was filled with countless performances on three continents and awards such as the prestigious Emerson Scholarship to Interlochen Arts Camp. Ida Jo graduated college with a degree in violin performance and has since released four full-length records and maintains a consistent touring schedule in support of them. Also an avid yogini, Ida Jo continues to use her music to promote wellness. She has been published in the Huffington Post and has presented at TEDx. Her music has been featured on Democracy Now! She was recently named 2013 WAMI Female Vocalist of the Year and 2013 MAMA Folk/Americana Performer of the Year.

Ida Jo was born and raised in fertile music port of Duluth, MN. At age 6, she began begging her mother for violin lessons. Eventually giving in, Ida Jo began classical violin using the Suzuki Method. Besides her classical study she performed and placed in countless Texas style fiddle contests and spent her summers performing traditional Finnish folk music all across the globe.

Led as always by Ida Jo's “innovative violin work and her soulful vocals” (AV Club), her music is expressive and groove-oriented, bearing the marks of the southern rock and folk that influenced her. (Think of artists like Janis Joplin, Aretha Franklin and The Band.) “Her voice has the vibrancy of Adele with the soul of Joss Stone. It has the color of history.” (Relate Magazine) Also present are the subtlety and grace of her background in classical violin. Add to that a healthy amount of individuality and stubborn indie spirit and you begin to get an idea of her sound. “Ida Jo's voice is refined enough to conjour reflection and edgy enough to stir agitation...” (Isthmus Daily Page)

On violin, Ida Jo employs a seldom heard technique that is the combination of a folk fiddle style called "chopping" and her extensive classical training. She plays the rhythm, the harmony and sometimes even the melody at the same time. What it ends up sounding like is beyond explanation and without comparison, somewhere between an acoustic guitar and an orchestra. She is one of only a handful of violinists in the world to play in the style. It has been praised as "masterful and unexpected" (Emmie Music Magazine), "inventive yet accessible," (AV Club - Madison) and "avoiding rootsy fiddle or orchestral indie clichés" (The Isthmus).