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Home / Articles / Entertainment / Music /  How a nice girl from California dominated Courtney Love and came to play Americana in Colorado
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Thursday, November 5,2009

How a nice girl from California dominated Courtney Love and came to play Americana in Colorado

By Dave Kirby

Give us a minute while we dab some yolk off our face.

A little Internet landmine caught us unawares when we were preparing to chat with Odessa Jorgensen the other day. See, Ms. Jorgensen, fiddler and singer/songwriter formerly of the California-based Biscuit Burners, is now the lead singer and one of two fiddle players for the Alaska-formed, mostly Nashville-based Americana quintet Bearfoot, and she’s actually the new kid on the block, having joined the outfit in September of last year.

A clever little piece in the Bluegrass Intelligencer reported the prior August that Bearfoot was holding auditions to fill the space left by original member Annalisa Tornfelt, who left the band to spend more time off the road and at home with family. The piece went on to list Billy Bob Thornton, Carla Bruni and Courtney Love as audition prospects.

Wow. How does it feel beating out Kurt Cobain’s widow, the Slingblade guy and the First Lady of France to get this gig?

“Some people thought that was real, which was really hilarious,” chuckled Jorgensen.

Um … well, the music world can get a little weird sometimes, but, OK, not that weird.

Still, Jorgensen stepped into a functioning outfit with a decent following, a couple of CDs and scads of festival appearances under their belts — fronting said outfit, no less.

“It was a challenge, at first," Jorgensen said. "Whether you’re forming a band or coming into an established band, you just kind of have to fly by the seat of your pants, take it as it comes, moment by moment.

“But … I’m a confident person.

I’m friends with Annalisa, I really enjoyed the band with her. Y’know, it’s a different band. It’s not me getting up there just singing someone else’s tunes. It’s my tunes now.”

And actually, the band’s latest CD is titled after one of Jorgensen’s contributions, Doors and Windows, an affecting, almost dirge-like rumination on dancing warily just outside the clutches of mortality.

Somehow gentle, vaguely haunting, carefully bejeweled by swelling fiddle tones and tinkling mando lines around the edges of its spare and spacious production … the CD’s center of gravity, as well as its namesake.

“I actually never played this tune with a band before," Jorgensen said. "It’s one that I started writing when I was 16. We got with Compass Records three weeks after I joined the group, and they wanted to make a record … like, in a month. I had just gotten home from Denmark, where I’d been for a month with another band. So … I wasn’t feeling all that confident. But I had a lot of tunes.

I write a lot on the road, and whenever I write, I record. And sometimes I just go back to old songs, and I found this one that I hadn’t finished. I had about five days where I locked myself in a practice space to finish things and get ideas down. And that was one of the songs I was really stuck on. I mean, I kept thinking, ‘Are these guys going to like this? They’re going to think it’s creepy. …’ “And I just threw it out there. We rented a house up in Nederland, and just showed each other our songs. … They ended up digging the tune, and it was really fun to see what we could do with each musically.”

The album also includes a few bouncing songwriter tunes (“Single Girl,” “Time Is No Medicine”), and a curiously weird cover of the Beatles’ “Don’t Let Me Down,” Jorgensen’s vocal languid and teasing the fringes of irony.

“Yeah, that [was] our booking agent’s idea,” she said. “It’s not a cover you hear all the time, especially with a chick singing it. But … I loved it right off. People do say, ‘wow, that was interesting,’ but why not, I figure. I mean, it’s a good song. And you can never go wrong with the Beatles.”

On the Bill

Bearfoot opens for Solas at Swallow Hill on Friday, Nov. 6.

Doors at 8 p.m. Tickets are $23 to $27. 71 E. Yale Ave., Denver, 303-777-1003.

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