Joined by Toronto’s Chris Brown and Kate Fenner as special guests, this thoughtful and brilliant artist not only has deep musical family roots but her own music goes deeper, into a soulful folk sound supported by intuitive lyrics and sophisticated vocals.
Jen Chapin (on lead vocals and guitar) will be accompanied by her virtuosic Grammy-nominated acoustic bassist/husband Stephan Crump, and the “unflappable melodist” (New York Times) Jamie Fox on guitar. They will play tunes from Jen’s catalogue, including her internationally acclaimed “lush” (Los Angeles Times) new album Reckoning produced by 5 Time Grammy Winner Kevin Killen. Chapin’s Reckoning is receiving international praise from fans and critics alike, drawing comparisons to Ani DiFranco, Joni Mitchell and Paul Simon. Robert Myers, Elmore Magazine raved Jen’s new release is “the most mature and satisfying album of her career…stunningly brilliant…Reckoning is a subtle, sophisticated recording that grows in stature with each listening and is well worth your consideration.”
Jen Chapin and Chris Brown met onstage at a November 2012 benefit for NYC communities devastated by Hurricane Sandy, where he played Hammond organ in an impromptu and unrehearsed performance on her social movements anthem “Gospel”. The following spring, in the midst of recording Reckoning, Jen called Chris on a whim to record on that song, and soon requested that he contribute his talents to the rest of the album. “I’ve been inspired by Chris’ brilliant musicianship and passion for justice since our first meeting in NYC at a benefit for NYC communities devastated by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and I’m truly excited to share the stage with he and Kate (whom I’ve admired from afar) back in their hometown at Hugh’s Room.”
Jen Chapin has been celebrated for writing “brilliant soulfully poetic urban folk music” (NPR) for over a decade, beginning with her debut, Open Wide, in 2002. Nurtured in and around NYC by a large family of artists, writers, and musicians, Jen’s “observant, lyrically deft, politically aware and emotionally intuitive” (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel) songwriting features both her “extraordinary voice” (De krenten uit de pop, The Netherlands) and “astonishing jazz band” (popmatters), the combination of which has garnered her well-deserved praise, solidified by appearances on Late Nite with Conan O’Brien, NPR’s Mountain Stage, WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour, WFUV’s Sunday Breakfast with John Platt, Mary Sue Twohy’s Folk Village and the Bob Edwards Show on Sirius Satellite. She has performed on stage with Bruce Springsteen, on bills with Aimee Mann, Bruce Hornsby, and The Neville Brothers, her rendition of Van Morrison’s “Into The Mystic” was recently featured in an episode of the SyFy TV series “Defiance” and her song, “Go Away” honored by the USA Songwriting Competition.
As much as an artistic legacy, the roots of Jen’s upbringing have inspired her “potent, jazzy, layered folk” (Newsday) songs and a lifetime of passionate activism, through ongoing work with WhyHunger (founded by her late father Harry Chapin), and other food justice groups. Jen’s music reflects a diversity of experience. She is mother to 8 year old Maceo and 4 year old Van Crump, who often accompany their parents on tour. She is also an educator, leading workshops and presentations to college, community and church groups, with a background teaching full-time in Brooklyn classrooms. And she is a student, with a BA in International Relations from Brown University, additional studies at Berklee College of Music, extensive travels and studies in Zimbabwe and Mexico, and an ongoing passion to learn more about the world, and its emerging pathways to greater social justice.
Born and bred in Toronto, and calling NYC home, before recently setting up his studio in the old post office on Wolfe Island, multi-instrumentalist and music producer Hugh Christopher “Chris” Brown has “a real talent for writing thought-provoking political songs that somehow manage to keep the feet tapping and the mind racing at the same time” (All Music Guide). Beyond his own music, Chris has performed and recorded (usually organ, piano and clavinet – but sometimes trombone, tuba or other instruments) for many stellar artists including Ani DiFranco, Joan As Police Woman, Tony Scherr, Barenaked Ladies, Ashley MacIsaac, Crash Test Dummies and Jen Chapin, among others. Brown was one of the primary singers and songwriters for the alternative rock band Bourbon Tabernacle Choir in the 1980s and 1990s and when that band broke up, he continued performing as a duo with his Bourbon bandmate Kate Fenner, his music partner since they were teenagers in Toronto.
After relocating to NYC, Brown and Fenner continued to tour and record as a duo, releasing Other People’s Heavens (1997), Geronimo (1998), O Witness (2000), Great Lakes Bootleg (2000), Resist War (2001), Burden of Belief (2002), Horses and Burning Cars (2002) , Go On (2004). Magnet (2007), and Oblivion (2007). In 2005, they were commissioned to write Chansons du Salamandre, a Symphonic song cycle to accompany the Merriweather-Post architectural installation in New York City, and joined B.B. King for a U.S. tour.
Critics regularly compare Kate’s “highly distinguished and professionally rustic voice” (Exclaim) to Roberta Flack and Joni Mitchell” and CBC Radio calls her “a national treasure”. Kate’s poetic temperament, both as a writer, and interpreter of other people’s songs, demonstrates a pure artistry, inspiring performers as varied as B.B. King, Ani DiFranco, The Tragically Hip, among others, to request her presence in the studio and on tour. Kate now calls New York City her home, where she collaborates with many heroes of the downtown music scene.
Chris currently divides his time between Brooklyn, NY, and Wolfe Island, Ontario, producing albums, touring and performing solo or with many of his musical colleagues including Kate Fenner and Open Hearts Society. Chris is also a passionate and committed social justice activist and founded the Pros and Cons program volunteering at Pittsburgh Institution where he continues to run music workshops. He recently completed albums with Suzanne Jarvie and David Corley slated for release this fall/winter, and is currently working on a solo album as well as projects with OHS and Kate Fenner.