When: Sat., May 19, 9 p.m. 2012
Though as a child, Durham native Jessica Long began penning "little musicals and compositions" that drew as much inspiration from Simon & Garfunkel and The Beatles as from Les Misérables and Phantom of the Opera, she never considered music as a career option. Indeed, she set out for Los Angeles her last semester of college with hopes of becoming an actress. "The glamour of Hollywood faded on me," Long says, so she soon moved back east and returned to songwriting. "I spent about six months almost literally locked in my room, writing songs, playing guitar, piano, and figuring out who I was and what I was going to do after LA left me with so much uncertainty."
Pulling from her early influences, as well as Radiohead, Ryan Adams and '90s alt- rock ("I used to steal my brother's Red Hot Chili Peppers, Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana albums"), the results find the young songstress hanging out in Grace Potter's neck of the woods, plying an accessible brand of pop-rock that's tinged with roots but highlighted by Long's soulful pipes.
A chance meeting in Nashville with Grammy-nominated producer Billy Smiley led to Long's 2011 solo debut, Painted. She soon found backing when bassist Mike Bare emailed to ask if she'd play with his band. Together they crafted the Geography EP, released last month. With River Whyless and Chris Pickering. (Long & The New Kind also play at Nightlight on Thursday and James Joyce on Friday.) —Spencer Griffith