For this month’s EDA Inclusive I decided to revisit a video that we posted over 5 years ago of a show that I shot in 1997 of Jewel and the Rugburns at Java Joe’s in San Diego. The reason why I am doing so is twofold. First, it didn’t get much visibility when it was first posted because people had to become a member and sign in with a password to access it. Second, the file size was only 40mb so the quality wasn’t very good. This time we uploaded the original 1GB file so the quality is better. However, the video camera I used back then was quite primitive by modern standards. It didn’t handle low light very well and didn’t have image stabilization. Yet in an odd way, it captured the feel that night.
Here’s what I remember about the show. I was running late and had just set up my little merch table in the back where I was selling “Shiva Diva Doo Wop” cassettes. It was a packed house and there wasn’t any room for a tripod so I just started shooting and hoped for the best. For me this show represented the end of a golden era and things would soon take off in a new direction. Shortly afterwards we went to London where I shot Jewel's show at Café De Paris and then Royal Albert Hall where she opened for Johnny Cash.
The songs played that night at Java Joe’s included: My Body Is Changing, I Thought I Saw You Last Night, Old Lovers House, Cowboy Waltz, Passing Time, Silver Lining and You Were Meant For Me. Let me know what song you would like to see next and I will work on it for my next post. Alan kept copious notes about this period so before we get to the video I’m going to hand it off to him to fill in the details.
- All the best, West Kennerly
Alan here. What follows is the blog I wrote five years ago, when we originally shared this rare song and video privately as an exclusive for EDA Club members. Since we've long abandoned exclusiveness for inclusiveness, we thought this was worth sharing again in better quality. I hope the following will help put West's footage in context of the times. It also contains some cool EDA history along the way.
Lets set the scene back in April of 1997, during a fascinating time in EDA history and at a pivotal moment in Jewel's career, shortly before her 23rd birthday. She had spent the past several months touring North America. The Rugburns served double duty as Jewel's band and as openers on the tour. Jewel co-wrote "You Were Meant For Me" with Rugburns frontman, Steve Poltz, and as the tour got underway, the single had exceeded all expectations and was now headed toward stratospheric popularity. Her first album was also racing up the charts and media attention was increasing every day. She completed this tour (known as The Tiny Lights Tour) on April 4th, with a memorable performance at San Diego's Rimac Arena.
Following the tour, Jewel only had a few days off (which is when the footage was shot), before she would embark on a solo acoustic tour of Europe, including opening for Johnny Cash at London's prestigious Royal Albert Hall. The Johnny Cash gig aside, which was a thrilling opportunity, Jewel was essentially marching headfirst into being an unknown all over again. The following month would be one of the most grueling and exciting of her career and a time of extremes.
While Jewel was making her way through Europe, primarily as an opener for other artists, she often had to fly back to New York City for television appearances, including her first Saturday Night Live appearance and the taping for MTV Unplugged. She may have been making slow headway in Europe, but everything was rapidly escalating in North America. In fact, the covers of Rolling Stone and Time Magazine were right around the corner.
Simultaneous to all of this, significant things began cooking with Jewel's online fan base, the Every Day Angels. In April of 1997, most were still basking in the glow of Jewelstock, Jewel's first private EDA concert event held in Bearsville, New York the previous summer. After spending a few days and nights together, many attendees struck up permanent friendships and everyone left significantly moved by the experience. Several highly motivated EDAs had even begun establishing a nonprofit foundation (Every Day Angels Foundation AKA EDAF) which promoted blood, clothing and food drives, as well as community volunteer work. Along with these projects, organized gatherings were also becoming more frequent. The EDAs had become a true promotional force, not only in terms of Jewel, but in terms of support for the San Diego music scene in which she developed.
In that regard, two catalyst EDA events would occur in April 1997, bookending the video performance we'll be sharing with you. The first occurred the previous Sunday, April 6, 1997, when two of The Rugburns (Steve Poltz and Jeff "Stinky" Aafedt) joined a contingency of EDAs in Dana Point, California for an impromptu house concert and cookout. This went down in EDA history as the The Hot Dog Fest, and EDAs from as far away as New England attended. On April 18, less than two weeks later, another EDA event would spontaneously combust in Boston, when San Diego artists Cindy Lee Berryhill and Elizabeth Hummel performed an intimate living room concert during a night off on their East Coast tour. Both of these events were so enjoyable that everyone involved was determined to perpetuate these experiences, myself included. These two events became the catalyst for the now legendary Living Room Tours, which continued the house concert experience throughout North America over the course of the next several years. [Addendum Update: An extremely enjoyable Living Room Tour 20th Anniversary Concert just occurred last summer here in Connecticut, featuring the original San Diego musicians and had three generations of EDAs attending.]
The video we present today was recorded on April 11, 1997, right between these two events. Nearly everyone who attended the Hot Dog Fest (including several northeastern EDAs who stuck around) made a beeline to Java Joe's that evening to catch The Rugburns. This trio configuration of the Rugburns featured Steve Poltz on guitar, John Castro on bass and Jeff "Stinky" Aafedt on drums. Jewel would turn up midway through their performance. An unreleased collaboration between Jewel and Steve, "My Body Is Changing," would open up their set together. They wrote this song near the beginning of the Tiny Lights Tour and although they considered it during preproduction for Steve's first CD, "One Left Shoe," it is yet to appear on any albums.
This footage was shot by West Kennerly using a hand-held miniDV camera. Since I had a DAT soundboard master of this show, we've now synchronized that audio to the footage, which greatly improves the listening experience. Big thanks to West for collaborating with me on this month's blog and for filming it in the first place! Likewise, thanks to Steve Poltz for generously granting permission to share this long lost collaboration with you.
So here we go. Jewel and The Rugburns performing "My Body Is Changing" live before an intimate audience at Java Joe's in San Diego, California on April 11, 1997. Following the song, some amusing EDA-centric commentary is included that so clearly reflects this moment in time. Keep listening after the song!
Until next time, Alan Bershaw