Musical Verve

Wisconsin-raised guitarist-songwriter Brittany Shane, has opened for veteran rock acts such as Foreigner, Heart, and Peter Frampton. She moved to San Francisco in 2000 to write, sing and perform her brand of 1990s-influenced alternative rock. Shane has worked with Joe Chiccarelli (production work with The White Stripes), Zack Smith (formerly of Scandal), Scrappy Jud Newcomb (of Ian McLagan’s Bump Band), and Dony Wynn (formerly of Robert Palmer?s band). Her music has been featured in the indie film and critical success The Village Barbershop (2008) and on the channels E!, A&E, Oxygen, and even a Hyundai TV commercial. In this interview, Brittany talks about her latest album Loud Nights On A Short String and more.

Jupiter Index: What would you say have been your top ten memories in music?

Brittany Shane: 10. Getting my first guitar from my dad my Sophomore year in college at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He wrapped it up without a case under the Christmas tree. Turns out, he borrowed it from a friend thinking I would get bored with it, but I ended up loving it and taking lessons! Yep, I had to give it back. Fortunately, got a new one a little later.

9. Singing in public for the first time at a UW-Madison open mic night. A friend and I dared each other to sing. She backed out of the bet, but I still went up. Haven’t stopped performing since that night.

8. Getting guitar lessons from a UW-Madison friend for just a pack of Camel cigarettes.

7. Selling a guitar for a one-way ticket from Madison, WI to San Francisco, CA. I was sad to let a guitar go, but excited to finally get to California where rock n roll dreams come true!

6. Playing my first show at the Fillmore Lounge in San Francisco. It was magical to be there before the doors opened and to play sets in the lounge before artists like Chris Isaak and The Wallflowers took the main stage. I have a funny memory of Chris Isaak watching my band sound check while he held and petted a very small, furry, white dog like a baby. The dog was passed out with belly up and legs straight out. It made me smile the whole time.

5. Getting to walk around The Wallflowers tour bus and meet the band after our sets at The Fillmore. They put my cd in the player and blasted my song “Come Around” and they all started dancing!
Jakob held up my CD next to my head and said I looked like Norah Jones, then got a sandwich and sat down across from me. Suddenly no one was there, just the two of us. I just sat there frozen and just stared at him while he ate his sandwich. I couldn’t talk or move.. until a friend ran back on the bus and said, “Hey, Britt! It’s time to go!”.

4. Seeing Rodger Daltrey play a show at a small club in LA. When we arrived and walked in, he was just standing there in the middle of the room alone and said, “hello” with his charming accent. He greeted everyone as they walked into the room. I was speechless.

3. Going on an 80 date tour of the U.S. in 2009/2010 to promote my record “Have Heart Live Young”. We circled the U.S. 4 times with around 80 dates or more. We only canceled one gig due to snow and the city shutting down.

2. Stopping in Savannah, Georgia (the most haunted city in the U.S.) while on tour and going on a ghost tour with my bandmates. We all had a hard time sleeping that night.

1. Opening for Heart, Foreigner and Peter Frampton at the Mountain Winery in Saratoga, CA.

If stuck on a desert island, which ten CDs/L.P.s would you most want with you and why?
1. Chet Baker's song, “Everything Happens To Me”. It's a sad song about feeling sorry for yourself and everything always going wrong, but for some reason that song always puts a little smile on my face and cheers me up. I’d also play his song, “Let’s Get Lost”. Seems appropriate for the situation.

2. Surf music of any kind so I could dance on the sand and in the water!

What would be your top ten music concerts you’ve most enjoyed?

10. Nick Lowe at Sweetwater in Mill Valley, CA. A very intimate show and I had the chance to watch up close in the front row. He has hands down the best hair in rock. It puts you in a trance just watching it move around.

9. The Dirty Knobs at Sweetwater in Mill Valley. Mike Campbell (Tom Petty) leading the group. Again, cool, crazy hair and a chance to see him playing up close was amazing.

8. Dave Edmunds in London. We went straight from the airport to the show, so I was half awake, but it was amazing to be at a concert in London.

7. Playing at a little London pub open mic at 3pm on a Sunday, drinking 1/2 pints, and watching songwriters from all over the world perform a few songs.

6. Gordon Lightfoot in Sonoma, CA. I loved hearing “Sundown” live. Also, I never saw so many fans in jean jackets with Gordon’s face airbrushed on the back. That was entertaining!

5. Huey Lewis and the News in Austin just a few months ago. My friend played guest guitar on a few songs, so I had the opportunity to meet the band and watch from the side of the stage. I’ve always had a secret wish to sing a duet with Huey. Maybe next time?

4. Watching my friend/producer from “Have Heart Live Young” Zack Smith play guitar with his band Scandal (“The Warrior”, “Goodbye To You”) at a VH1 Bands Reunited taping in LA. When I was a kid, I’d sing, “The Warrior” to my mom while I jumped off beds and danced around our house!

3. Travis at the Fillmore, San Francisco. First time I pogo’d with my bandmates and a crowd. It was a sea of people jumping up and down together and having fun.

2. The Who at Shoreline in the Bay Area just a week after John Entwistle passed away. It was a very emotional show without John on bass. They showed photos of John at the end of the set. We all stood there in silence.

1. David Lee Roth’s New Years show at the House of Blues Hollywood in 2003. When I was growing up, my mom had a poster of David Lee Roth hanging up in the laundry room. Half naked. So, to see him at a New Years show, still doing the high kicks and lookin’ good years later, that was pretty amazing.

Would you like to add anything else you have said?

Sometimes after a show, people will tell me they really wish they could sing. I believe anyone can sing! I was terrible when I first tried. Sang out of key, couldn’t really sing a note. My Dad gave me a gift certificate for voice lessons after he saw my first show with a band in college (Ouch, that one hurt). It was the nicest thing anyone could have done for me. I have studied off and on with voice instructors since 1997. I might not be the best singer in the world, but I can sing! I think anyone can sing if they love music and put in the work.

by Jeff Boyce