When Jaimee Harris was five, she asked Santa for a Pegasus. When Christmas morning came, she awoke to find not the fantastical creature she had requested, but instead, a guitar.
“I played around with it for a bit, but it wasn’t until I discovered Fleetwood Mac two years later that I really began to play,” Harris said. “I think most little girls dream of getting married. I just wanted to be Stevie Nicks.”
Is that how you would say you got started in music?
JH: When I was fourteen I discovered Patty Griffin and knew songwriting was what I wanted to pursue. Since there were not a lot of opportunities for me to play in my hometown, Hewitt, TX, I began playing in the DFW area.
What are some of your influences?
JH: Like many singer-songwriting folk nerds you run in to in Austin, I have been extremely influenced by Patty Griffin. Her words both cut and heal and her voice is so distinct. Not a day goes by that I don’t listen to Ryan Adams. I have also fallen deeply in love with Emmylou Harris. Not just her voice, but her career. One of the biggest compliments I’ve ever received was from a songwriter in town. In the studio, he joked that I was the Emmylou Harris of Austin because I’ve sang backup for so many different artists in this town. Just like when you know without a doubt Emmylou is singing backup, it’s easy to pick out my voice. I’m not sure I’ve earned that compliment yet, but I’ll take it.
Who have you worked with in the past and what were those experiences like?
JH: My most memorable experience was being asked to tag along with Matt Nathanson and Jessie Baylin on the Texas portion of their tour in 2008. I had already opened for Bob Schneider and Jon Randall, but these gigs were different. Matt’s single, “Come on Get Higher” was huge at the time, so the shows were insane. And of course I treasure every moment I get to work with my great friend David Ramirez, and have ever since we started playing music together seven years ago. It is a amazing experience watching a sold out club stand in silence, captivated by his, well, David-ness. There is no one like him.
Why after flying solo for a while have you decided to play with a full band?
JH: I’ve had people telling me to put a band together for years, but the timing never felt right. Honestly, it makes sense to do so. All of my records are full band. I’m too loud for coffee shops and not loud enough for bigger venues. Things finally fell in place at the right time.
Who exactly makes up the band?
JH: My guys are great and I am so thankful to have them. I met Brian Douglas Phillips at a bar in College Station completely on accident. I was on tour with David at the time and had heard great things about Brian. Turns out, after we’d popped in his CD for the drive, he was hanging out at the patio of the venue. I stayed in touch with Brian after I moved to Austin and found myself singing in his project. Brian owns a great studio in town, Rattletrap Audio, where I will be recording my next record. Daniel Whittington and I met at Momo’s and discovered we had very similar musical tastes and that we grew up approximately ten miles from each other. I began singing with Daniel, which led me to meeting his father and our shared bass player, Brad Whittington. I can’t help but laugh when I’m around Brad. He’s a well-established writer and is incredibly witty.
What other shows do you have coming up?
JH: KUT and Deadbird Records are including me in an acoustic showcase at the Manor Thunderbird on August 19. If you’re in to mornings feel free to come to the Good Morning Hangover Show at the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (on) South Lamar. I go on at 11 am and Tara Craig, (who was) Roaries best female artist 2010, performs at noon. I’ll also be playing at this fall’s Old Pecan Street Festival in Austin. I’m very excited about participating in a songwriter’s round with Daniel Whittington and Lizzy Lehman at Thunderbird (on) Koenig on September 3. It’ll be a great time of story telling and soul bearing.
Catch Jaimee Harris and her full band tonight at Red Eyed Fly. Cover $5. Doors 8pm.