June 26, 2008

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The next big thing (needs a ride to the show)
Jessica Prouty Band plays at the Sad Café
By Brian Early bearly@hippopress.com

It’s a musical house at the home of Jessica Prouty, the surging young talent from Massachusetts. Her father converted the house garage into a studio jam space. He bought a PA system and a mixer. The drummer of her band has his drums permanently set up at the house.

Friends may come over and jam out while she’s upstairs in her house studying. One of her friends might play for three hours before he notifies Prouty that he’s there. “And then he’ll raid my fridge,” the 14-year-old said.

On July 18, she’ll release her first album, Saving My Sanity, at the Hard Rock Café in Boston when they open up for Ernie and the Automatics. Last weekend, she played a Sunday afternoon show at the Middle East Restaurant & Nightclub. Last year the band played at Higher Ground in Burlington, Vt. And that’s all for a band whose members aren’t old enough to drive themselves to their gigs.

Locally, they’ll play at the Sad Café in Plaistow this Saturday, June 28. It’s their second show at the Sad Café, and they’ve played a show at Ground Zero in Suncook. They quartet has a show later this month at the Hampton Beach Seashell, the youngest band ever to perform there, according to the booker.

The nine-song album includes songs mostly written by Prouty, with music mostly written by her and her band mates.

Her album was the idea of Brian Maes, a member of the Automatics, who is a producer with a studio. He heard her during “Monday Night Garage Bands,” a weekly event with many young musicians, many younger than Prouty, who played each week.

There wasn’t a backing band for Prouty at the time, so Maes brought in veteran session players to back her up, an enjoyable experience for her, she said. During the recording process, she was hooked up with a bassist, keyboardist and guitarist. She brought in a drummer who played in her former band. Everyone in the band is between the ages of 13 and 15.

“Every single person made this album,” she said. “Everybody contributed their own musical genius to the piece. It’s a work of many.”

Earlier this year, she won a scholarship to Berklee College of Music to work on her vocals. Her guitarist, Cody Nilsen, won a scholarship for guitar.

It’s been a lifelong study of music. She sang Disney songs and sang at church for years, and was always a member of chorus at school. In the fifth grade she picked up the guitar, and later the bass. Her father would play her Beatles songs when she was young. Her mom works as her manager.

When the original bass player left to continue his studies at the New England Conservatory, Prouty picked up the bass again. “I love playing because it’s fun and challenging,” she said. “You’re singing one beat and playing to another.”

Perhaps what she enjoys most is connecting to the audience through her songs. One song from the album is “Nothing,” which is about a guy ignoring her. When she sings it, girls in the audience nod to the words.

“They related to almost every single lyric,” she said. “I loved it. I was thrilled.”

Jessica Prouty Band
When: Saturday, June 28
Where: Sad Café, 148 Plaistow Road, Plaistow
Info: www.myspace.com/thesadcafe.


Jessica Prouty Band
When: Saturday, June 28
Where: Sad Café, 148 Plaistow Road, Plaistow
Info: www.myspace.com/thesadcafe.