The first time I encountered Jacob Jeffries he was performing as a solo act, a little guy with energy and talent too big for the tiny piano bar. Intrigued to see how he may have evolved over the year, as well as seeing him with an entire band, led me to The Stage last Friday night.
Prior to his show, a beautiful, fresh faced, young woman dressed in a summer dress with cowboy boots, part temptress, part tom-boy stepped onto the stage with guitar in hand only accompanied by a lone (slide) guitar player (Jeffries’ guitar player, Jimmy Powers). It didn’t take a full song for the crowd to be seduced by the unique voice, skillful songwriting and the experienced stage presence of Suzanna Choffel. The faces of an audience filled with rabid Jacob Jeffries fans slowly turned toward the stage and began to inch their way in to get a closer look. The vocal tone vacillated between innocent and childlike and smokey and womanly. Dusky and sultry, are words that have been used to describe her voice, and to add to the list would be a controlled breathiness, effortlessly and uncontrived. Her songs were relatable without the sickening sweetness of typical pop music.
It’s a wonderful revelation walking into a performance with no knowledge, preconceptions or expectations of an artist and discovering a jewel like Choffel. As it turns out, Choffel gained notoriety after appearing on The Voice, landing on Blake Shelton’s team and hailed by Rolling Stone Magazine as the “most intriguing” contestant last year. Though The Voice was not her first thrust into fame, turns out she was the unwitting subject of the docu-drama Catfish with her YouTube video of Doc Watson’s Tennessee Stud. Already with two albums under her belt and mid a third, it is certain that Choffel will continue to make her presence known. See her web here.
As much as Choffel had set a tender mood at The Stage, Jacob Jeffries quickly shattered it with their ruckus enthusiasm and Jeffries’ obvious joy of performance. It was hard to believe that we were watching what seemed like a veteran performer who was celebrating only his 25th birthday with over 150 of his closest friends and fans in the standing room only space. The gifted singer/songwriter maybe should’ve chosen the guitar at the age of five instead of the piano, as his exuberant dance moves and contagious excitement seemed unfairly anchored to the keyboard. One can only imagine the moves he would cut across the stage otherwise. Jeffries’ vocals and lyrics are concise and melodic, which may be part of the draw of the many fans who also could not stand still as they sang along to the band’s hard straight up rock and roll drive, lead by brilliant guitarist, Jimmy Powers V, and hard beat rhythm of drummer Matt Calderin. Though based in South Florida, the band has an impressive list of festivals they have played, including SXSW. From the looks of the tour schedule, it doesn’t seem that this young band has any intentions of slowing down anytime soon. With four albums already under Jeffries’ belt at his tender age, it seems as if fans will have many years and albums to come from this prolific talent. Check out his music, tour schedule and his aptly titled blog: Music and Lyrics Inspired by Critics here.