In her last post, Jeannine Hebb answered some questions about her life post Berklee. In this post she gives a more intimate view on what it’s like living in NYC and coming back to Boston to perform.
Performing in Boston is always great because I’m originally from here. It feels like a big homecoming whenever I come back to town. And the best part is that I get to see my family and friends from the Bean!
Appearing at Precinct Bar last month was no exception. The audience was responsive, and the rest of the bands playing that night were great. The adrenaline from performing live always puts me in a good mood…and if I have an appreciative audience, like the one that evening at Precinct, it makes me happier than anything I can think of.
I had the opportunity to introduce a couple of new songs that evening. One in particular, “Call Him Out,” is the single off of my upcoming album, Whileaway. It’s kind of quirky and a little goofy sounding compared to some of my other stuff, so it definitely turned heads when we played it! We also played a few songs from my EP, Too Late To Change Me. My listeners have had a couple of years to digest that one, so those who were familiar with it were pretty excited to hear some new arrangements of old songs off that album.
My time at Berklee and living in Boston helped me as a live performer. I was actively playing shows throughout my education – both at Berklee and outside of school. The experience I gained from getting out there and playing as much as possible was invaluable, but I think the technical voice instruction and Livingston Taylor’s performance class in particular were very helpful in furthering my comfort on stage.
At Berklee I also learned that performing live requires a different kind of focus than recording in a studio. When you’re live, it’s your responsibility not only to sound good, but to look good, too! I pay as much attention to technique as I do to my body language and stage presence. In the studio, the concentration is placed on getting the best sound possible – without having to worry about much else! But having a responsive audience and bouncing off that positive energy at live shows certainly help and make a difference. For me, playing for two people who are really, really listening can be better than playing to 2,000 who aren’t.
But as much as I love Boston, moving to New York City was the best decision for my career. The city is endless. It introduced me to a lot of playing, recording and teaching opportunities that I wouldn’t have come across in Boston. It’s also stuffed to the brim with creative people. Everyone in New York is an actor, musician or some sort of artist, so when you live here you’re constantly surrounded by that creative energy everywhere you turn. Without Beantown and Berklee though, I’d be a different musician and performer all together. Places like the Middle East, All Asia, the BPC, Harper’s Ferry and Sculler’s all gave me a great and reassuring start. And now, returning home to perform offers a special, more personal experience that no other town can compete with.