Fraser / Live Music – Singer/songwriter takes stage at Rocky Mountain Roastery
April 4, 2008
Rocky Mountain Roastery in Fraser announces its second-to-last show for the ski season with Nashville-based singer/songwriter J.J. Heller. Heller tours the country with her husband, Dave, who accompanies her on acoustic guitar, playing an impressive average of about 90 shows a year.A musician friend who used to live in Grand County, Nate Allman, connected the couple with Ali Grayson, who puts the talent together for the Roastery and invited them to the area for a show. That was the last time the Hellers played in the Fraser Valley and they acquired many admiring fans, including Grayson. My jaw definitely dropped the first time I heard J.J. sing, Grayson said.Heller, who is known for her soul-searching lyrics, said becoming a musician was a gradual process. She started writing songs while she was a sophomore in college (majoring in music and Bible/theology), later playing with a band that featured her future husband. The band started out at open-mic nights before landing their first real gig.The musician said she was a nervous wreck leading up to that first big performance. But the more gigs they played, the more she fell in love with it. I realized that when Im sharing my heart and my thoughts through songs, Im doing exactly what I was created to do, she said. I feel so at home doing what I love.Heller said she and Dave make aneffort to expand their musical horizons. Her favorite songwriter is Patty Griffin, but shes also been enjoying Allison Krauss and Robert Plants Raising Sand. Its different than any music Ive heard before, and it already has influenced the way I approach songwriting, she said. Heller also loves being exposed to the independent artists that she and Dave have met in Nashville since their move there from Phoenix, Ariz.Heller describes her sound as acoustic, lyrically-driven, folk-ish music and estimates she has probably written more than 100 original songs. She hopes tonights audience is encouraged to hear that someone else has been through similar experiences and that theyre not alone.The musicians most recent CD, The Pretty & The Plain, was released this past October and is the second project she has created with producer Mitch Dane (of Jars of Clay) at Nashvilles Sputnik Sound. Heller describes the album, her fourth studio release, as nostalgic with hints of modern quirkiness.We wanted it to be something that would insight curiosity, she said of the album title. Were hoping that people will search for the meaning a little bit, and find it in the songs. Its main theme, she said, is freedom and redemption. One of the songs on the CD, Have Mercy, Heller said is hands down the most vulnerable song Ive ever written and is about her occasional panic attacks.During the following months (once the road tours die down), J.J. and Dave Heller expect theyll be writing songs for the next record.Grayson is also a musician and is scheduled to be the feature for the last show of the winter. So far, talents joining her on stage for the April 11 performance include Suzi and Gary Morrow and her husband, Bryan. I just have too much fun playing with lots of different people, she said.Each Friday night during the ski season, the Fraser Roastery hosts a wide selection of musical talent from across the country. The venue is proud to offer a drug-free musical environment which allows all ages to enjoy the shows. This years sponsors were Changes Thrift Store (for the third year in a row), Grand Mountain Bank, Grand County Counseling and Grand Futures.