Jami Lynn

The Culture Trip

Jami Lynn named to 50 artists to watch in 50 states.

KRVM Radio Eugene's Tupelo Honey

Fall is a Good Time to Die makes Tupelo Honey's top albums of 2015 as #2!

The Telegraph

Fall is a Good Time to Die named to The Telegraph's top country albums of 2015:

"Great singing, interesting songs and melodies make this one a winner from South Dakota songwriter Jami Lynn. The pick of 10 strong originals is the gorgeous Red Fox, featuring the mandolin of Eddie Faris. The album exudes the landscape, the animals and the people of the American Midwest. There is some lovely dobro from Dalton Coffey, too."

TME.fm Radio

This stunner of an album is ultimately the culmination of a 6 year long project, as back in 2009 South Dakota folk songwriter Jami Lynn set out across the Great Plains of the United States to col-lect folk songs from the early settlement days in the Dakota Territory. What she discovered howev-er, was a series of stories, characters and places that emerged along the way and asked to be writ-ten about. Since then, Lynn has continued her journey with those elements, concluding in this opus that is her latest album "Fall Is A Good Time To Die". With all 10 songs original self-written compositions, this is a collection that is instantly recognisable as being deeply rooted within the American roots tradition, but where this album scores maximum marks is within the parameters of pushing those boundaries a little further whilst still retaining that authenticity. Jami Lynn has painted a musical landscape that ultimately reflects a region rich in history and tradition, and beautiful but occasionally harsh of nature. "It's not about the hardy settlers that we put on pedestals, but about everything else - the landscape, the animals and the people that lived here before it was settled," she points out, "I think the old folk songs are always present in my writing, but the stories on this album are my own stories, set up by thousands of years of stories told on the plains, by settlers, the Lakota Sioux people, and the 'old' people that preceded them in living here". Central to the themes presented is the succinctly titled "Wolf", sitting aptly in the middle of the al-bum, and one of three songs on the album that Jami refers to as the "South Dakota Predator Trilo-gy" (alongside "Red Fox" and "Coyote, Why Ya Been Lookin' So Thin"). A paean to the lone preda-tor driven by the relentless march of progress from it's ancient natural habitat to survive as best it can - but survive it does as the song tells of it's finely tuned skill, instinct and anatomy, the things that "keep me in the stories they all tell". Beautiful dobro by Dalton Coffey nestles effortlessly be-neath Jami's ethereal vocals. Yes there are echo's of Anais Mitchell in her voice, and even traces of Emmylou at times, but ultimately she is her own woman. One minute dark and forbidding, the next a heavenly tendril weaving it's way through the images conjured by startlingly vivid lyrics. The evocation of the sprit of the Dakota Territory is latent in it's authenticity throughout the album, and opening "Polywogs" gently and effortlessly introduces the listener to Jami's world. Almost nursery-rhyme esque in terms of composition, lone banjo and voice take us straight to a picture postcard old time American north mid-west summer scene, the one we all have stored in our imaginations somewhere. The simplicity of this song is also it's strength, it's brilliance. "North Wind" and "God Out On The Plains" then take the listener out of that comfort zone. The Summer is ending, Fall is on it's way. "The North wind, it rouses the desolate beast of this land, but Winter has bought us what no other mild season can" - we're heading for a harsh winter, but even in that harshness there are positives, hopes and the promise of new life on the other side, whether that be physically or spiritually. All that imagery is wrapped up in a bubble of dobro, banjo, acoustic gui-tar and Jami Lynn's radiantly pre-possessing voice. I approached this album with no preconceptions as I had neither heard of, or indeed heard Jami be-fore. What I found was an album that immediately insinuated it's way into my consciousness and has been lodged there ever since. It has taken me on a journey that I never sought, but one that now that i've taken it I am eternally grateful to Jami for. George Keith of the popular 'Empty Bottles & Broken Souls' music blog says of her, " Essential Listening. This one will turn heads worldwide. It's time the world met the new star of American roots music". And who am I to argue? This isn't just an album, it's a lovingly and painstakingly crafted piece of art that works on all levels. Walk beside Jami Lynn. Take that journey. Be the Wolf.

Rambles.net

The Dakotas repose only hazily, if that, in the national consciousness. Often, writers who have occasion to mention them are confused about which is which; thus, it's not all that unusual to learn of such heretofore-undocumented geographical destinations as Fargo, South Dakota, and Sioux Falls, North Dakota. There is some dim awareness that Mount Rushmore is somewhere in South Dakota, and many know, at least marginally, of an oil boom in North Dakota. Beyond that, if there is anything beyond that, most Americans presume the Dakotas to be something of a backwater. That last part is true. No one goes to the Dakotas to experience the 21st century, whose encroachments are fought fiercely there. "Progressive" and "Dakotas" are not words likely to be expressed in a single sentence. I speak from the accumulated wisdom of one who has spent much of his earthly existence just east of the borders of the two states. I'm a 10-minute car ride from South Dakota, and for nearly a decade I could easily walk to North Dakota. My first wife grew up in both states. If the stereotypes about a provincial, illiberal culture are empirically grounded, it is just as true that as one interacts with Dakotans, one also experiences their modesty, friendliness and hospitality. Pleasant surprises that defy cynical expectations abound. One pleasure is South Dakota folksinger Jami Lynn. (Lynn, by the way, is not her last name but her middle, thus "Jami Lynn," not "Lynn," from here on.) Unlike her previous album (Sodbusters, 2011), a good portion of which draws on her research into the traditional music of the West and Upper Midwest, Fall is a Good Time to Die is singer-songwriter fare. But in contrast to most big-city practitioners Jami Lynn sets her songs, explicitly or implicitly, in rural environments. A graduate of the University of South Dakota, Jami Lynn lives today amid the state's Black Hills. Her affection for her native place infuses her music, though never sappily. The album was recorded in Sioux Falls with local musicians who provide mandolin, dobro and guitar (Dalton Coffey) and acoustic bass (Andrew Reinartz), and later mastered in Nashville. Jami Lynn's expertly played banjo and guitar are in evidence throughout, to especially happy effect on the opening cut, "Polywogs." Overall, Fall has a crisp, straightforward sound, with Jami Lynn's commanding alto -- clearly a formally trained instrument -- celebrating the natural landscape and the cycles of birth, love, joy, loss and death. Think of her as a Gillian Welch of the plains. She's that good.

NosebleedsMagazine

Read Jami's interview with Nosebleeds at the link above.

Fervor Coulee

As I’ve written before, one of the great benefits about writing about roots music is the opportunity to discover new, exciting talent that speaks directly to my heart. Such does South Dakota’s Jami Lynn that I am downloading her previous recording Sodbusters as I type and without previewing a single track. With nature and exploration winding its way through most of Fall is a Good Time to Die’s ten songs, Lynn has creating a pure, genuine collection of music. Inspired by her travels across the Great Plains of the American mid-west, Lynn has woven herself into her subjects, crafting gentle songs that capture the wild instincts of the animals and people who inhabit the less-populated landscapes of her world. Singing and writing about her South Dakota environ, Lynn breathes life and connections to areas we may not have yet experienced, much like John Wort Hannam does with Alberta, Jason Tyler Burton has with Utah and Wyoming, and Jay Clark has done with eastern Tennessee. Jami Lynn, youthful in her mid-twenties, perhaps…safe to say, she’s a talented youngster…. handles banjo and guitar throughout the recording. Dalton Coffey takes care of the Dobro and mandolin as well as the guitar parts Lynn doesn’t, while Andew Reinartz lays things out on the upright bass. A tangential bluegrass connection is made through Eddie Faris’ editing and mixing at the Skaggs Place; he also adds mandolin to one track, creating a mysterious little atmosphere within “Red Fox.” A trilogy of canine troubadours provide Lynn with three of her strongest songs. “Red Fox,” “Wolf,” and “Coyote, Why Ya Been Lookin So Thin?” are bound together by subject manner, but Lynn takes differing approaches and perspectives within their individual explorations. “Wolf” opens with a soothing vocal imitation of howls, augmented by (I believe) bowed bass before giving way to more substantive, icy Dobro flourishes. Lynn reveals her jazz background here, playing with her voice while sharing the inner thoughts of her lupine hero. Frailing punctuates “Coyote,” a song that takes me back to when Michelle Shocked seemed to have more fun. The melding of concise, personal imagery with gentle instrumentation gives “The North Wind” an appealing if slightly chilling atmosphere. “Sturm and Drang” is suitably titled as the guitar-based song exudes anxious intensity. Things are more freewheeling within “God Out on the Plains,” as Lynn captures the majesty of the familiar. The title track is stunning, a beauty of an elegy for my favourite season. Jami Lynn had something special to start with—a great sense of herself and from where she comes, songs that capture the nuance of experience—but she found a way to make these songs even more impressive through the contributions of Coffey and Reinartz. The Dobro has to be a challenging instrument to duet with as a vocalist, but Fall is a Good Time to Die is a stronger album because of this brave choice. She and Coffey might have had a different album without the Dobro, and it may have been just as good (depending on where they went) but there is no doubt that this recording is made that much more impressive because of the manner in which it has been included. (And there is a sentence I never thought I would right about the hub-cap guitar!) It took me a while to find Jami Lynn. I’m going to be paying attention from now on. This is the type of album, and the type of talent, that makes me long to book a folk festival. Yeah, I’m selfish, but the folk world needs to hear Jami Lynn.

Folk Words

There’s something about the Great Plains of eastern South Dakota - the trek, the hardship, the space, the myths – everywhere there’s a sense of new and old combined. The latest album from Jami Lynn ‘Fall is a Good Time to Die’ takes its influence and heritage from that environment it also mixes tradition and innovation in equal parts to deliver a consummate whole. Some albums have a ‘growing time’ – the minutes or hours needed to work their way into your mind, no such delay with ‘Fall is a Good Time to Die’, the appeal is immediate. The fascination begins with banjo-inspired vitality and old time impression through ‘Polywags’ continues through the dobro-driven lyrical splendour of ‘Red Fox’ and the emotionally rich and quietly impressive ‘The North Wind’. Jami has one of those voices that manage to get close to you – even through the distance of a recording. You have to keep looking to see she isn’t there in the room with you. There’s a hauntingly magical edge to the imagined narrative of ‘Wolf’ that pulls you unerringly into its story, while songs like ‘Texas’ with its keenly portrayed longing and the sumptuous title track ‘Fall is a Good Time to Die’ have an accuracy that feels so right. Musicians adding their talents to the album are Jami Lynn (vocals, banjo, guitar) Dalton Coffey (dobro, mandolin, guitar) Andrew Reinartz (upright bass) with Eddie Faris )mandolin ‘Red Fox’). Find out more here: www.jamilynnmusic.com

FATEA

This stunner of an album is ultimately the culmination of a 6 year long project, as back in 2009 South Dakota folk songwriter Jami Lynn set out across the Great Plains of the United States to col-lect folk songs from the early settlement days in the Dakota Territory. What she discovered howev-er, was a series of stories, characters and places that emerged along the way and asked to be writ-ten about. Since then, Lynn has continued her journey with those elements, concluding in this opus that is her latest album "Fall Is A Good Time To Die". With all 10 songs original self-written compositions, this is a collection that is instantly recognisable as being deeply rooted within the American roots tradition, but where this album scores maximum marks is within the parameters of pushing those boundaries a little further whilst still retaining that authenticity. Jami Lynn has painted a musical landscape that ultimately reflects a region rich in history and tradition, and beautiful but occasionally harsh of nature. "It's not about the hardy settlers that we put on pedestals, but about everything else - the landscape, the animals and the people that lived here before it was settled," she points out, "I think the old folk songs are always present in my writing, but the stories on this album are my own stories, set up by thousands of years of stories told on the plains, by settlers, the Lakota Sioux people, and the 'old' people that preceded them in living here". Central to the themes presented is the succinctly titled "Wolf", sitting aptly in the middle of the al-bum, and one of three songs on the album that Jami refers to as the "South Dakota Predator Trilo-gy" (alongside "Red Fox" and "Coyote, Why Ya Been Lookin' So Thin"). A paean to the lone preda-tor driven by the relentless march of progress from it's ancient natural habitat to survive as best it can - but survive it does as the song tells of it's finely tuned skill, instinct and anatomy, the things that "keep me in the stories they all tell". Beautiful dobro by Dalton Coffey nestles effortlessly be-neath Jami's ethereal vocals. Yes there are echo's of Anais Mitchell in her voice, and even traces of Emmylou at times, but ultimately she is her own woman. One minute dark and forbidding, the next a heavenly tendril weaving it's way through the images conjured by startlingly vivid lyrics. The evocation of the sprit of the Dakota Territory is latent in it's authenticity throughout the album, and opening "Polywogs" gently and effortlessly introduces the listener to Jami's world. Almost nursery-rhyme esque in terms of composition, lone banjo and voice take us straight to a picture postcard old time American north mid-west summer scene, the one we all have stored in our imaginations somewhere. The simplicity of this song is also it's strength, it's brilliance. "North Wind" and "God Out On The Plains" then take the listener out of that comfort zone. The Summer is ending, Fall is on it's way. "The North wind, it rouses the desolate beast of this land, but Winter has bought us what no other mild season can" - we're heading for a harsh winter, but even in that harshness there are positives, hopes and the promise of new life on the other side, whether that be physically or spiritually. All that imagery is wrapped up in a bubble of dobro, banjo, acoustic gui-tar and Jami Lynn's radiantly pre-possessing voice. I approached this album with no preconceptions as I had neither heard of, or indeed heard Jami be-fore. What I found was an album that immediately insinuated it's way into my consciousness and has been lodged there ever since. It has taken me on a journey that I never sought, but one that now that i've taken it I am eternally grateful to Jami for. George Keith of the popular 'Empty Bottles & Broken Souls' music blog says of her, " Essential Listening. This one will turn heads worldwide. It's time the world met the new star of American roots music". And who am I to argue? This isn't just an album, it's a lovingly and painstakingly crafted piece of art that works on all levels. Walk beside Jami Lynn. Take that journey. Be the Wolf.

Twangville

With the title track, The North Wind, Wolf, and Sturm & Drang among the tracks on this album, you’d be tempted to think this was music for the suicidal. Not much could be further from the truth. That’s because the instrumentation keeps the melancholy at bay, especially the dobro and mandolin playing of co-producer Dalton Coffey. Lynn herself steps from the guitar and takes a couple of nice turns on banjo, particularly on Polywags where she bends the strings like an old Delta bluesman. This is modern folk music at its best.

Elmore Magazine

For a song about a cold breeze, Jami Lynn’s “The North Wind” is a surprisingly warm tune, with Lynn’s inviting vocals and her band’s pleasant folk backing providing a comforting environment. Indeed, Lynn herself says, of the song, “For me, this song is less about the little story it contains and more about the feeling of comfort and warmth it conveys in the empty spaces between the guitar and vocals.” More than just a folk singer, Lynn is a folklorist herself, having left her classical voice studies to “dig around in museums, archives, churches, and personal collections around South Dakota,” her home state, in order to collect the songs that made up her previous album, Sodbusters. Her new album, Fall is a Good Time to Die, follows in that same Great Plains spirit while containing songs that she penned herself, including “The North Wind.” Fall is a Good Time to Die is available now and Lynn and her band—Dalton Coffey (dobro, mandolin) and Andrew Reinartz (bass)—will be touring throughout the Dakotas and Upper Midwest this summer. Further information can by found at Jami Lynn’s website and Facebook page.

Pop Matters

South Dakota singer/songwriter Jami Lynn's "Texas" is spartan in arrangement but big in simple beauty. About a month ago, South Dakota’s own Jami Lynn released her sophomore LP, Fall Is a Good Time to Die. Six years in the making, the record is both a tribute to her home state and a fine collection of folk tunes in the vein of the best Americana. Below you can stream the pastoral “Texas”, whose spare arrangement—voice, banjo, and mandolin—puts Lynn front and center. Lynn tells PopMatters about the story behind the song’s title, “In the spring of 2012, members of my family rented an RV and stole my grandmother from hospice in southern Texas and brought her home to her farm in South Dakota. It took me two years to finally capture how magical it was spending the last few months of her life together.”

For the Country Record

In 2009, Jami Lynn was an undergraduate student studying classical voice while she played with her folk band on the weekends. However, coming to the realization that opera was not where her heart lay, she set out across the plains of South Dakota, the state she calls her home, to collect folk songs from the early settlement days of the Dakota Territory. She recorded and released an album titled ‘Sodbusters’ full of the obscure songs she found, but it was a visit to her family in Texas that inspired her beyond covering long-forgotten material. She played these songs she had found to her grandparents, and they began sharing similar stories of her ancestors – so much so that these characters began floating around Jami’s head, enough to form new, original songs about the people, the animals, and the landscapes that were around many years before. Thus ‘Fall Is A Good Time To Die’ was born, a concept album of songs dedicated to South Dakota and a view of the state long before those heralded early settlers arrived. Officially out today, the album includes the track ‘God Out On The Plain’, our featured track and one we are lucky enough to be premiering. “The Lakota Sioux still hold that the Black Hills in western South Dakota are holy land,” Jami says of the song. “I suppose that this song is in a way, a humble apology, and also an ode to the beauty I’ve found here.” A humble apology, and a very beautiful one at that. Beginning in the midst of simple guitar-strumming to a fast-paced chord progression, this is soon joined by exquisite dobro that slowly takes over the track with much intricate playing for a full solo. However, perhaps the most wonderfully distinct aspect about ‘God Out On The Plains’ is the way that Jami’s unique, twangy vocals float humbly over a particularly beautiful melody. The song is kept deceptively simple (just two verses and a refrain following a pilgrim’s journey) despite plenty of impressive musicality present, and is a glowing transcient moment of peace and clarity in a cluttered world. You can take a listen to ‘God Out On The Plains’ below, and don’t forget to go buy ‘Fall Is A Good Time To Die’!

South Dakota Public Broadcasting

Sometimes South Dakota singer-songwriter Jami Lynn's new album FALL IS A GOOD TIME TO DIE can feel like one of those idyllic Black Hills hollows. And sometimes, like the mountains, something animal lurks beneath the scene. Species of the Canis genus — fox , coyote, wolf — stalk the album’s aural game trails like a London novel. The sound “is not only rooted in the mystery and the wonder of Dakota mythical landscape,” says Empty Bottle and Broken Souls, “it sprinkles the feel of the land and the magic of her distinct Midwestern sound like gold dust in an old miner's pan.” Lynn’s banjo ranges from stoic to laden to buoyant, complemented by Dalton Coffey’s dobro and the acoustic bass of Andrew Reinartz. But where the music takes flight over the Plains it grows from is in her vocals. Her voice is the rare kind with the power and versatility to carry notes from every hue of the human/animal pilgrimage, notes tracked by wolves and rutted by wagon wheels. With “Polywogs,” the album starts off at an easy saunter, changing pace with the plaintive “Red Fox.” The ride gains momentum seeking “God Out On the Plains.” “I am a pilgrim on my way / I look for God out on the Plains / Though I cannot find him still / I think He’s closer in the hills.” The road ahead eludes like a shadow on “Wolf,” then “Coyote, Why Ya Been Lookin’ So Thin?” brings the hike back to a casually sunny stroll before setting off on the barnstorming eponymous romp. “I think that fall is a good time to die / all the leaves on the trees couldn’t agree more / brown and dry / though all the world dreads the winter / I just smile / cause fall is a good time…” No brooding discourse on the knowledge that things end, “Fall” encompasses all the reverie, blues and ebullience we experience with Lynn heretofore along the way, like memories poised at the cusp of something new. Here, as in the line, “I don’t wanna forget how the light starts to change,” all the exquisite loss and promise only our best songwriters can give us shows its colors, like orange on the leaves of an aspen grove. Jami Lynn celebrates the release of FALL IS A GOOD TIME TO DIE with shows at the Matthews Opera House in Spearfish (April 10) and The Orpheum in Sioux Falls (April 11). She’ll play songs from the album live from South Dakota Public Broadcasting’s Rapid City studio on the April 9 edition of Dakota Midday. You can also catch a broadcast of her recent performance at the SDPB studios in Vermillion on NO COVER, NO MINIMUM, Saturday night (April 4) at 10pm CT, 9 MT.

Empty Bottle and Broken Souls

South Dakota. Call it a libertarian’s paradise or a progressive’s purgatory- the land has been described as a place where heaven and hell are neighbors…and polite ones at that. Vast prairies stretch out to the painted desert badlands where rust and rabble eventually wind up culminated in the knotty pine cone trails of the majestic Black hills. South Dakotan siren Jami Lynn's brand new album “Fall is a Good Time to Die” is not only rooted in the mystery and the wonder of Dakota mythical landscape - it sprinkles the feel of the land and the magic of her distinct Midwestern sound like gold dust in an old miner's pan. In other words. It’s Damn good. DAMNED GOOD!!! The opening pop and crackle of Lynn’s banjo on the opening track “Polywags” glows with old timey presence that bridges seamlessly with the dobro heavy “Red Fox” and the lovely “The North Wind”…I do believe Ms. Lynn has indeed turned the corner here with this album in comparison with her impressive past releases. Her recorded works have always impressed me, from her debut “Dreamer” and the indie folk gem “Sodbusters” -however this line-up of musicians and the maturity of the writing not to mention the stellar performances here really bring her beautiful voice and talents into the limelight. Lynn is backed by some damn fine musicians Dalton Coffey and Andrew Reinartz that kicks her jazzy, American roots and bluegrass to expert level…You here stuff of this caliber coming out of Nashville - not an indie studio out on the plains…this folk masterpiece (yes, MASTERPIECE) was recorded in the boondocks…that concrete jungle of Sioux Falls - which indeed has produced some wonderful original artists in the past few years, but dare I say no one till now has released an album near as good as this one. “Fall is a Good Time to Die” may indeed be the best folk album from a South Dakota songstress woman since Shawn Colvin’s groundbreaking “Sunny Came Home” back in 1996. Favorite songs include those mentioned above as well as “Wolf” and the gently brooding title track - Hell, This is music that demands the attention of the listener, inspires the human heart and keeps your toes tapping throughout. I feel blessed to be one of the first people to hear this - and I feel this may be one the finest albums I’ll hear in 2015. This is Album of the Year material for sure. Jami- I’ve always been impressed by what you do…but this one takes the cake and will live permanently in my collection of one of the great acoustic gems I’ll cherish for years to come. Your talents and music are a gift to this old world and we are lucky to have you. 5 out of 5 stars. Essential Listening. I predict this one will turn heads world wide. It’s time the world met the new star of American Roots music. That bright, bright star is indeed Jami Lynn. Shine on…

The Black Hills Pioneer

SPEARFISH — Jami Lynn fans will have reason to celebrate once again as she kicks off a tour April 10 in Spearfish with the release of her fourth album. Lynn’s album, “Fall is a Good Time to Die,” features 10 original tracks. “(The title), sounds a little morbid, but its not,” Lynn said during a sit-down with the Pioneer. “The title track of the album is about different philosophies. I have two grandparents, one on both sides, who have different philosophies on living. My grandmother, who passed away a couple years ago, was out shingling her roof in her 80s. She would spend winters in Texas always going and dancing four nights a week. And then I have a grandparent who retired and moved off the farm to town to die when he was 60. He had a different mentality: ‘Well, I’m ready to go now.’ And he’s 86 now.” Many of the new songs feature the talents of Sioux Falls musicians, Andrew Reinartz, Dalton Coffey, and Rapid City guitarist, Dylan James. All three will perform with Lynn at the Matthews Opera House concert. “I write more about, on this album, places and animals than people, which hasn’t been the case in the past. My other albums have focused more on my own life or people in history,” Lynn said. “This album has more of a sense of place.” The album features what she feels is her best work, and she said it is nice to finally have an album she wrote in its entirety. “It’s silly it took this long because first and foremost I consider myself a songwriter,” she said. Her folk and Americana music comes to her a little at a time. “Little bits of songs will come when I’m driving or when playing banjo or guitar,” she said. “I don’t really sit down and write. I’ve tried that and I’m not that kind of writer.” Sometimes it takes a couple hours to write a song. Sometimes it takes years, she said. “There are songs on this album that I didn’t finish or have inspiration to finish for a few years.” Lynn plays guitar and banjo on the album and she is accompanied by Andrew Reinartz who plays bass and Dalton Coffey who plays dobro and mandolin. Lynn began playing folk and bluegrass music when she was 13 in northeast South Dakota. She began playing seriously during her first year of college and has been a full-time musician for the past four years. “Not very many people are able to make it a career,” she said. “I realize how lucky I am here in South Dakota because I found a niche. My first solo album, Sodbusters, was about South Dakota history. Through my album I really found my audience and they are incredibly supportive. Her tour opens on April 10 in Spearfish at the Matthews Opera House. The following night she performs in Sioux Falls. On April 24 she plays in Madison and on April 25 in Watertown. “Jami is a born and bred South Dakota musician,” said Sian Young, executive director of the Matthews Opera House. “Her music draws on her deep connection with the landscape and culture of the Dakotas. Our audience will not be disappointed.” Advance ticket sales are $15 all seats, and “at the door” $20 all seats. Tickets are available at the Matthews’ art gallery during business hours, Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., or by phone at 642-7973. Buy tickets online anytime at www.matthewsopera.com.

The Rapid City Journal

As she wrapped up a set playing banjo and singing at a recent live show, Jami Lynn flashed a look that only a performer can fully understand: a big smile fueled by the applause of a happy audience. And yet, there was a bashfulness to Lynn's response to the ovation she received after a gig at the Minneluzahan Senior Center earlier this month. Though among the busiest performers in the Black Hills, Lynn had never played at the venue before, so she said it was a real thrill for her to get that sort of reaction from the crowd. "I think my favorite part of being a musician is playing in front of new crowds, it's just such a thrill," Lynn said in a backstage interview. Lynn, 27, whose full name is Jami Lynn Buttke but whose stage name is Jami Lynn, said her first experience with music started when she was forced into taking piano lessons in second grade. She kept taking them up until eighth grade although it wasn't an ideal fit for her. "I hated every minute of it," said Lynn, a native of Corona, S.D., a town of about 100 people north of Watertown who now lives in Spearfish. However, she felt right at home when she picked up a guitar and starting singing the blues. With a little bit of prodding from her grandfather, Lynn took the plunge and started singing in public, and she began to really enjoy herself. Lynn is now an experienced singer and songwriter who will release her second full-length solo album featuring a mix of folk and Americana songs next month. A release event is set for 7:30 p.m on Friday, April 10 at the Matthews Opera House in Spearfish. The album, “Fall is a Good Time to Die,” is her fourth album overall and her second as a solo artist. The new album will feature 10 original tracks. Advance ticket sales are $15 all seats, and $20 at the door. Tickets are available at the Matthews during business hours or by phone at 605-642-7973 or online at matthewsopera.com. Lynn has said her music features story lines rooted in her Great Plains heritage. On her website, she describes songs from her album "sodbusters" like this" "Inspired by stories of her ancestors trek from the East coast to the Dakota Territory, the title track of Sodbusters offers the perspective of Jami Lynn’s great-great grandmother, Lydia Huff. In addition to six original songs, the album features five folk songs from the South Dakota area. A lumbering ballad from the forests of Minnesota, a Norwegian lullaby, an Irish folk tune, and a cowboy ballad from the open range compliment her own artfully crafted folk songs." Sian Young, executive director of the Matthews, said Jami brings a decidedly cultural approach to her songwriting. "Jami is a born and bred South Dakota musician," said Young. "Her music draws on her deep connection with the landscape and culture of the Dakotas. Our audience will not be disappointed." Although the inspiration for her lyrics comes from her experience growing up in South Dakota, Lynn's style is fairly unique for the region. She plays a fusion of jazz, country and what she described as "Appalachian style," which is folk style that is popular in parts of the country around the Appalachian Mountains, but which doesn't get much of an airing in South Dakota, she said. Lynn attended the University of South Dakota where she majored in vocal performance and recorded her first album, "Dreamer," as Jami Lynn & The Aquila Band. Almost immediately after her first album was released, Lynn spent a semester at Tennessee State University in Nashville to study commercial music, which is where she picked up and honed her clawhammer style, in which the thumb does not pick on the downbeat. She returned to USD to finish up her degree, and began to produce more albums. During the release tour, Lynn will be performing alongside bassist Andrew Reinartz, who has performed with the South Dakota Symphony since 2001; dobro player and Sioux Falls native Dalton Coffey; and flat-picker Dylan James, who collaborated with Lynn on their 2013 album “Cluck & Croon.” "I'm so excited to bring Andrew and Dalton to the Black Hills" Lynn said. "Playing alongside them in such an acoustically impressive space as the Matthews Opera House will definitely be a highlight of the release tour."

The Argus Leader

There are certain questions a music writer must ask an artist who is promoting a new album. One obviously has to ask about the songs and the recording, but there also must be inquiries about previous releases. The easiest question of this sort is to have the artist compare the new project to earlier output, but rarely does one get an honest answer. A record is a songwriter's baby, after all. With this in mind, I was taken aback by folk singer/songwriter Jami Lynn's response. Her entire face lit up as she proclaimed her new album, "Fall Is a Good Time to Die," as "my best album yet. I honestly do. This has been an amazing experience making this album. I'm really excited to be getting it out there." She's also quick to point out that this is not a criticism of her earlier work. She looks at 2013's collaboration with Black Hills flat-picker Dylan James, "Cluck & Croon," as "as an experiment, because it was a meshing of two different styles, jazz and folk. It was my first official collaboration with another musician, but it was a fun experiment." The secret to this album, says Lynn, is the cohesiveness of the material that organically meshed together. "Some of these songs are six years old, but they just didn't fit with anything else. I maintain that even though they're older, the songs on this record are my best. They all fit together, like they finally found each other and filled a record up." That's not to say that there wasn't adversity in the creation of "Fall Is a Good Time to Die," as the album was actually recorded twice. After recording last November in Colorado, Lynn explains that she brought the tapes to Dalton Coffey's home studio for touchups. "I thought we were just going to record some extra parts that I hadn't recorded in Colorado. When we sat down and started recording the acoustic instruments, the difference was amazing. He's so talented, especially for acoustic instruments. He plays the dobro, which is a hard instrument to mic, and I play the banjo, which is the same case. When he recorded the banjo, it was clear that we needed to start over." Lynn points to "Red Fox," which she describes as her "personal highlight," as an example of not only Coffey's skills but also bassist Andrew Reinartz. "(It's) probably the oldest song on the whole record. When Andrew and Dalton got their hands on it, it just turned into this completely different creature. It's really, really changed a lot for the better. Both of them bring out different elements to the song that I never knew existed." There's one particular section in that song that conjures up one more giant grin from Lynn as she describes it. "There's a great moment in the song where Andrew drops the bass, and the guitar enters. From an acoustic standpoint, it's not as dramatic as like a hip-hop song, but it almost is because it's unexpected. It just opens up the song in a really cool way. It gives me chills every time, and my own music doesn't usually give me chills." "Fall Is a Good Time to Die" will be available at Jami Lynn's release party at the Orpheum Theater at 7:30 p.m. April 11.

www.searchingthroughthedrivel.tumblr.com

Nothing of My Heart by Jami Lynn. Even if this weren’t an excellent song with harmonica that actually suits, her voice would alone would merit a listen. As it is, this is a real, pure track, the kind of song that doesn’t need seventeen musicians playing tubas and xylaphones to make it stand out, the kind of song that you could have heard 100 years ago played exactly the same way, music made for the sheer joy of music and nothing more. If it wasn’t already clear, I really, really love this.

No Depression

Traditional music has gained quite a following here in the Midwest. Traditional being a very loose term these days. Just about every old punk, hipster and indie rocker is going folk. Goatees turn to handle bar moustaches and civil war era beards, mohawked rebels turn die-hard dapper-Dans complete with vintage vests and clip on bow-ties. People are trading their amplifiers for mandolins, their snare drums for banjos and jumping on the Americana bandwagon with little better than mixed results. Maybe it's just me, but It seems like all these groups get thrown together, they record an album and it ends up sounding like Coldplay gone bluegrass. A hard reality I find sickening.

Thankfully, this is not the case with the Black Hills South Dakota duo Jami Lynn and Dylan James’s new album Cluck and Croon, my first introduction to Mr. James’s recorded works, though I am well familiar with Jami Lynn and her fantastic independent releases with the Aquilla Band (2008's Dreamer) as well as her more recent solo album "Sodbusters" - thankfully this release follows suit and does not disapoint.

First off, this album sounds pure. A purity that feels authentic as the songs our grandparents listened to on the radio as children with sometimes wild, sometimes sultry grooves well suited for any turn of the century basement jazz club, work farm picnic or rural speakeasy. Equal parts Carter Family, Billie Holiday and Tin Pan Alley with enough modern twists to thrill fans of old time Americana without alienating more discerning acoustic audiences. That's the charm of Cluck and Croon in it's entirety, which consists of Lynn and James on banjo and acoustic guitar with an occasional fiddle and upright bass thrown in here and there to round things out, though the album I feel would have been executed just as well with the two of them as they are. There's some strong talent at play here...impressive stuff.

In the proper old time stylings, this is not a "perfect" album, it is a rather a very natural one, which is indeed where all of it's strengths and weaknesses lay. Jami Lynn is a formidable and talented singer, her performances here far outshine Dylan James reedy and bucolic vocal stylings, but his energetic guitar work and adequate harmonies more than make up for his lackluster singing ability. I would dare say that anyone would be encouraged not to sing at all with Jami Lynn at the vocal helm - her voice is sweet enough to melt the hardest heart of stone one moment and powerful enough to cut down a circus strong man the next, so my hat is off to Mr. James for for having the guts to throw his hat into the ring here and being true to himself. That criticism aside, I feel they've put their fingers on the pulse of old timey music, defined it as they see fit while remaining true to themselves while doing it justice. No small feat in and of itself.

Something that struck me as I was listening to Cluck and Croon is that nothing on this album sounds manufactured or put-on. It's honest...and honesty is something sorely lacking in a often misunderstood and thriving musical genre. Lynn and James have injected a healthy dose of talent and romantiscm into their album, an album that is a must have for fans of primitive Americana, hot country jazz and old time string bands. Favorite tracks include "6 Black Bulls" and "Pride of the Prairie" - two songs that not only impressed the hell out of me but can be included as genre defining in our time. That said, pretty much every song on this release possess all of the necessary ingredients that make for repeated spins. I suspect we will hear more from this talented duo in the future and I for one am looking forward to it. I’m also pleased to hear they are currently on tour at this very moment, putting asses in the seats and spreading their infectious old time Black Hills sound- Let’s face it…We need them to. For the goodness sakes someone has to keep this music pure in this day and age...Thankfully Jami Lynn and Dylan James are doing just that.

-Md

The Argus Leader

When it came time for Jami Lynn to pick a topic for her senior thesis, “Early American Folk Music of the Upper Midwest” seemed to be a perfect fit for a woman who had been penning tunes since the sixth grade.

There was one problem, though, and it was a major one: Nobody had previously bothered to document South Dakota’s folk music history.

“I had expected to compile other people’s work,” the 25-year-old folk/jazz/blues songwriter says, “and I wasn’t able to do that. I was going to compile songs from South Dakota, put them together, and maybe work some of them up and record them. That was my plan for the thesis, but it’s not what it turned into.”

Instead, Lynn had to start from scratch, “digging around in museums and archives and personal collections.” She had some help from Sioux Falls historian Dave Kemp, too. “We went digging for people who could tell me something or show me something like collections and old books that had little snippets of songs that were usable from that time period.”

In hindsight, Lynn now says that the extra work was beneficial to her growth as a songwriter.

“I’ve always had a pretty strong sense of place in my songwriting, and South Dakota has been my backdrop for most of my songs,” she says. “Slowly, all of the songs I was writing sounded like they fit right into the folk songs I was researching.”

Many of these new songs ended up forming the basis of 2011’s critically-acclaimed “Sodbusters,” surrounded by a handful of old tunes she had uncovered in her research. Mathew DeRiso from No Depression described the material as “equal parts Carter Family, Billie Holiday and Tin Pan Alley,” and critics from all over the world chimed in with similar compliments.

Two years later, Lynn is back with “Cluck and Croon,” her first collaboration with self-taught fingerpicking guitarist Dylan James. They’ll celebrate the album’s release with a show at Latitude 44 on Friday.

“We both have our strengths. Mine are vocals, and his are picking, and they’re both very prominent on this album on just about every song,” she says. “We both really push the other to improve, which is really awesome and something that you look for in a partnership.Question: You reportedly started writing songs at the age of 12. Did songwriting come easy?

Answer: It was just something that I always did for fun. I had friends that would do it with me. I wouldn’t say it was something that was really easy and would just come to me, but it wasn’t something that I had to work very hard at doing.

Q: Years later, songwriting is a major part of your profession. With that kind of pressure, is it still relatively easy to write songs?

A: It’s harder because there are so many other parts of music that I’m also doing. Being a small artist in South Dakota, I don’t have someone to do my booking or any of that. I’ve kind of been doing both sides of the business, so I don’t always make time to let there be space in my mind to do it. I’m not one of those people who sits down with the intention of writing. It’s usually just something that comes around when I’m doing something else, and I think over time I’ve left less space in my mind to do that.

Q: How did you meet Dylan James?

A: We met last June on the street in Rapid City. A mutual friend of ours had invited us both downtown to busk. I had never done that before. I went down, and Dylan was the only other person who showed up. I had heard his name from a lot of people, and was told I should check him out because he was an incredible picker. Dylan just really wowed me, and I invited him to play at my show that night. He came along, and just played the whole show with me without having heard any of it before. A week and a half later, we both messaged each other via different media. I think I Facebook-messaged him, and he emailed me at some odd hour of the morning, not knowing that the other was doing the same. We started playing together almost immediately after that.

Q: Talk about the recording of “Cluck and Croon” at the Historic Homestake Opera House in Lead.

A: We needed it to be quiet, so the hours we spent there tended to be either very early or very late. It was a great space, because an opera house has some cool vibes going on anyways.

Q: Was the entire album recorded there?

A: The last three songs were not recorded there. It was crunch time, and we really needed to finish it up. A good way to make you finish up an album is to plan a tour. We were stuck in Colorado for a week because we had a show on Monday and a show on Friday, so we ended up recording those last three songs live around one mic in my sister’s walk-in closet. It was so much fun, and those ended up being my favorite songs on the album.

Q: Who needs a studio when you have a walk-in closet?

A: Absolutely. It serves the same purpose. The walls are padded with all of the clothes, and it’s pretty small. It did the job for us.

South Dakota Magazine

Glacial Lakes folk singer Jami Lynn was in Rapid City for a performance when she met musician Dylan James on a street corner. She invited the Black Hills native to sit in on that evening's concert. Their styles meshed so well that by evening's end they had decided to collaborate on an album.

Cluck and Croon was recorded at the Homestake opera House in Lead, James' hometown. Its tracks are a mix of originals (featuring Jami's clawhammer banjo technique), traditional folk songs and jazz standards. The duo also included a tune called Pride of the Prairie, written in 1907 by George Botsford, a Sioux Falls native who became a successful ragtime composer in New York City's Tin Pan Alley.

The Rapid City Journal

Jami Lynn likes slower, emotional songs. Dylan James likes to play fast, exciting tunes.

When the two met last June on St. Joseph Street in Rapid City, they started playing together almost immediately, finding in each other a perfect musical complement. Now they have released “Cluck & Croon,” a new album of folk and jazz. They will celebrate with two album release shows on Friday and Saturday at the Dahl Arts Center.

“It is a fusion of traditional folk music and gypsy jazz, which came out of Paris in the 1920s,” said Lynn in a phone interview from North Carolina, where the two were on tour.

The album contains traditional folk tunes that have been “jazzed out,” including “In the Pines,” first made famous by Huddie Ledbetter, known as Lead Belly.

“We kind of added a jazz element to it and sped up the end and Dylan does his thing on guitar and I do a little bit of scatting. I’m proud of that one,” she said. “We did record one song by Fats Waller that people will recognize (“Ain’t Misbehavin’”). It’s a jazz tune and I play it on banjo. That was fun.”

The album also contains original songs written by Lynn and James. The two recorded much of it at the Historic Homestake Opera House in Lead.

“It didn’t turn out exactly like we imagined,” she said, noting that the opera house was still being remodeled and the acoustics were affected by the tin roof. “But we really like the sound that we got.”

Lynn, a native of Corona in northeastern South Dakota, and James, who grew up in Lead, met last summer when a friend invited them to busk on St. Joseph Street.

“We were the only two that showed up,” Lynn said. “So we met that night and he played my gig with me at Tally’s.”

They found that their styles meshed, and have been performing as a duo ever since.

“We both have the same interests in folk music and jazz, and Dylan’s strong point is guitar and I’m more of a vocalist,” Lynn said. “Our taste in songs is kind of opposite. I tend to pick out songs that are slower, and have more emotion in them. And Dylan likes to play really fast songs.”

But those differences have helped both of them grow, said James, a guitarist known for his flat picking.

“I feel like I’ve grown as a player,” he said. “I’ve learned to play quiet and slow, and I push her to play fast, more exciting music,” he said. “We meld really well. We both play instruments, we both sing, we both write. We can back each other up.”

Lynn and James, who has performed with Fancy Creek Jumpers and the Six Mile Road Band, have become known for their diverse instrumentation and their unique arrangements of traditional American folk songs and jazz numbers.

Besides the shared love of folk, bluegrass and jazz, they also have that South Dakota connection.

“For me, there’s a huge sense of place in my songwriting, always,” Lynn said. “The prairie, especially, and the history and the clash of white people moving in and the Indians being pushed farther and farther west; that’s always in my head.”

Lynn said she has seen another resurgence in folk music in the last 10 years.

“It seems to be an ebb and flow,” she said. “It’s exciting to me, because it’s always been my favorite kind of music.”

The duo’s album is available at iTunes and at cdbaby.com. They have been on tour in Ohio, North Carolina and Tennessee.

South Dakota Public Broadcasting's Dakota Midday

Rapid City based musicians Jami Lynn and Dylan James performed live in SDPB's Vermillion studio and discussed their new cd, "Cluck & Croon."  Their concert schedule is keeping them busy into October. Listen here.

605 Magazine

Being stuck on a deserted island with Jami Lynn might actually be enjoyable. Not like "Castaway." No personified sports equipment or killing fish with a spear. Not like "Lord of the Flies," either. No social struggles or jerks like Roger running around. No, a typical night may invoke something more like the "Pirates of the Caribbean." Rum and dancing would fill the air as well as loughter and an unrestrained sense of love and freedom. Lynn would be as bright as the fire on the beach, strumming her banjo and singing any number of folk tunes: stirring the array of good vibes on the sand.

I played the guitar for 10 years, but it was only an accompaniment instruemtn and I was so bad about practicing it," said Lynn. "If I had only one thing to take with me while I was stranded on an island, it would be my banjo for sure."

Since her "Sodbusters" release, Lynn feels she has developed insurmountably as an artist. The banjo has assisted her growth and is especially evident in her new persona, both on and off the stage. Lynn details her new found fascination adn constant study of teh clawhammer style; considered rhythmic and melodic because it follows a different picking style than traditional methods. It's one of the biggest elements of folk cluture in the Appalachian Mountains, and that's probably why it conjures up an image of an old dude with a white beard in a rocking chair.

Well, that's not quite Lynn... nor has it ever been.

"I'm kind of glad I don't fit that image," jokedLynn. "Although, now that I am beginning to play it more and learn more about the history I really just want to bring the banjo to other people."

Lynn attended school at the University of South Dakota and believes her music career took a natural progression there. She found herself thinking it was plausible to make a living as a musician, and captured that intuation gy following her own advice of "just go and do it." When Lynn left her day job and embraced music full time, she discovered a sense of accomplishment and apprehension at the same time.

"I always get ahead of myself, becuase trying to figure out what to do next isn't always clear

South Dakota Public Broadcasting "Dakota Digest"

South Dakota duo Jami Lynn and Dylan James are about to release their first CD together.  “Cluck and Croon” is a mix of old bluegrass and folk with a strong undercurrent of jazz. 

The album combines original songs and old standards.   SDPB’s Charles Michael Ray has today’s Dakota Digest with a review of the new CD.

The first CD Release Party for “Cluck and Croon” is at the Goss Opera House in Watertown on Friday, April 5th.  Tracks from the new CD are being featured on this weekend’s “On Record” on SDPB Radio.   The duo are also featured guests on an upcoming edition of SDPB’s Dakota Midday.

Listen here.

South Dakota Public Broadcasting's No Cover, No Minimum

Three Rapid City singer/songwriters on this week's No Cover, No Minimum radio. Recorded September, 21st at the Dahl Arts Center in Rapid City, Jami Lynn, Dylan James, and Ryan Kickland took turns entertaining the Americana Music Festival Crowd in a warm up slot for Caroline Smith & the Good Night Sleeps. Enjoy the powerful singing of Jami Lynn, the flat-picking skills of Dylan James, and the "wrong-side-of-the-tracks" guitar and singing of Ryan Kickland. Listen here.

Black Hills Faces Magazine

Gabbing over a hot cup of tea surrounded by the smell of drying herbs and the sight of vintage décor, you might guess that one of Jami Lynn Buttke’s favorite places is the kitchen, and indeed, one of her favorite things to do is cook. However, the old fashioned upright radio in the living room hints at another of her passions: her ultimate dream of someday performing for Garrison Keilor. “I would love to be on Prairie Home Companion,” the bluegrass, folk, and acoustic musician, known as Jami Lynn, says. “I grew up listening to it.” Her music stand, along with her guitar and banjo, sit casually in the living room in front of an armchair with a cushion larger than the singer/songwriter herself. At age 24, with two full-length albums and gigs all across the Midwest, there’s nothing casual about Jami’s vocal and musical talents. Her music stand sits casually in the living room in front of an armchair with a cushion larger than the musician herself who plays the guitar and banjo. With two full-length albums and gigs around the Midwest already at age 24, there’s nothing casual about Jami’s vocal and musical talents. Although she fears that Keilor’s announcement of his coming retirement limits the amount of time she has to reach her goal of performing live on the popular NPR radio show, Jami continues to play as often as she can where she is.

Since moving to Rapid City in the spring, the young musician has become a regular on the list of “who’s who” in the area’s performance schedules. The petite young woman grew up with two older sisters on a farm in Corona, S.D. Though she says her family “knows good music when they hear it,” she didn’t grow up listening to a lot of music in her house. It was her grandfather who exposed her to the old-time country, folk and bluegrass music that Jami continues to perform today. Her grandfather would bring his young granddaughter to monthly jamborees around the area, and as she listened to the music and stories of those in attendance, a lifelong love of learning the history behind the songs was born. “A unique thing about me is that I’m very interested in the history and folklore of the music I play,” she said.

She started writing songs as a teenager, since she had always enjoyed writing poetry. She taught herself how to play the guitar in high school, as well, but it wasn’t until college that she considered trying to make it on her own as a musician. Jami calls her move into full-time performing a “slow progression.” As a freshman at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, she originally planned to double major in biology and music, but when the registrar asked which major she would like to list first, Jami said “music” without much thought. “There wasn’t room for anything else after that!” she said. She studied classical voice for the first two years of college, which taught her about breath support and music technique that she continues to use, though her singing style has changed. Jami also taught herself how to play the banjo during college. She holds and plucks it the same way she plays a guitar and describes it as her own style when seasoned banjo players ask her about it.

It was during her time at the University of South Dakota that Jami started playing at coffee shops, and eventually she did a semester exchange program at Tennessee State University in Nashville. There, she took commercial music courses and recorded her first album, “Dreamer,” released in 2008 under the name of Jami Lynn and the Aquila Band. She completed the semester shortly after the release of the album, and while she was grateful for the musical knowledge that she obtained in her time in Tennessee, she knew that there was another place she wanted to be. “I loved Nashville,” she said. “It was a really great experience, but it made me realize that I wanted to be home. I love the Midwest.” And the first person she lists as an influence is a musician who is able to play music and stay where he wants to live. “He made it work here in the Midwest,” Jami said of Dave Moore, a musician from Iowa. She described him as having a really easy acoustic blues style and played with him at a folk festival once. Though she doesn’t keep in constant contact, she considers him a mentor in her journey as a musician.

This theme of being aware of place is continual throughout Jami’s music. She wrote her undergraduate thesis, "Early American Folk Music of the Upper Midwest," about the folklore of music in South Dakota. The act of researching and compiling the music allowed her into a world where few people have traversed. “A lot of the songs I’m looking for, people still have,” she said, adding that the music isn’t written in books or stored in museums. Family members still have the songs written on the inside cover of books, or in journals, or simply imprinted in their memories from hearing their grandparents and parents pass the music along through the generations. “It’s opened a lot of doors for me,” she said of her interest in compiling music history. This academic side to her music has allowed Jami to play at various academic conferences and museum venues, including the National Music Museum in Vermillion, the Adams Museum in Deadwood and the Courthouse Museum in Sioux Falls, among others. While she hopes to go to graduate school someday, Jami decided that she wanted to try performing on her own before heading back to school. After graduating with a degree in music, she spent a year in Vermillion performing, enjoying the community and working on a second album. Jami loved getting to know the jewels around the southeast corner of the state, including the Missouri River and Clay County Park, but when her boyfriend, Ryan Griffith, a guitar major whom she met at USD, was moving to Rapid City for the completion of medical school, Jami also headed west. But changing the part of the state in which she lives hasn’t changed her music.

She recently released “Sodbusters” with Josh Rieck, of Sioux Falls, and much of the music comes from Northwestern South Dakota. The title track tells the story of her great-great-grandmother coming to the Midwest in a prairie schooner. The duo recorded the album themselves, passing sound equipment back and forth between their living rooms. “Folk music is one of those genres where you can cut corners and have it sound good,” she said. The album combines traditional ballads and Jami’s original works. “I write about characters and people I invent and places,” Jami said. “I think my music really gives you a strong sense of place rather than an emotional journey,” though emotion is certainly a part of the stories in the music. The title track begins, “My mind’s in a bucket, my book’s in a box, and not three months later, they both would be lost.”

Jami said she wrote the song from the perspective of her great-great grandmother, and what it might have been like for her as a pioneer to South Dakota. Jami was staying with her grandparents in Texas during her senior year spring break, and as she told them about her research into the stories behind the songs of South Dakota, they revealed some of her own family stories. Her great-great-grandmother Lydia married very young and moved from Illinois to Summit, S.D., with her husband. The couple had a number of children, and her husband decided to go farther West, taking two of the children with him to Lemmon, S.D. The plan was to establish a home there and have the rest of the family join him, but after two years and the loss of both children, Jami says that he threw up his hands and returned to Summit. “I decided to write that song from her point of view,” she says of thinking about what her great-great-grandmother must have experienced. The result of her musings is “Sodbusters.”

Jami said that one of the most interesting connections she made after a performance involved a gentleman who had the same story of relatives traveling to the same part of South Dakota at the time her family members were. The stories were eerily similar, and though they found they aren’t related, Jami said the ability to share the story with an audience member in attendance at one of her performances was powerful. Having a lot of her music set in this part of the country allows for the chance that audience members have similar stories in their histories, but it doesn’t mean that the music can’t translate outside of the area. Jami takes her music out to share, like when she toured the Greater Midwest earlier in the spring and more recently this fall. Her first tour took her from Rapid City to Portland, Oregon, and she said that luckily, the chains she bought for her Monte Carlo never had to be utilized while driving over the mountain passes. She entertained audiences in Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, Montana, Idaho, and one stop in Portland, Oregon.

“The stars were aligning,” she said of how well the tour went. She traveled with a good friend from childhood, who coincidently was the person with whom Jami wrote her first song. They never had to stay in a hotel, as the people they met along the way insisted that they enjoy their hospitality. “We couch-surfed a couple of nights and stayed up all night playing Bananagrams!” she said of the experience. Each such assembly made her all the more excited for the next day, to see just what kind of interesting folks she would meet along the way.  “I kept thinking that if I lived here, these people would be my friends,” she added. Jami enjoyed these connections, and she said that all musicians strive to find a link with listeners when they are playing. “You can feel it when it happens,” she said of the connection. “If you can make someone who’s digging into a steak turn around and listen to you, you’re doing pretty well.” And Jami seems to be doing pretty well. She already has a following of all ages that she consistently sees when she performs.

“There’s a market for what I’m doing here,” she said, adding that she is impressed with the Black Hills for how quickly the locale has embraced her. Her favorite part of performing is meeting the people and listening to what they have to say once they hear her perform. “I love it when people come up to me afterwards…who correct me on something…or when they bring up another song,” she said. “I’m always learning. The feedback afterwards is awesome.” While she’s playing, however, the musician isn’t thinking of anything in particular. She more often loses herself in the vocals. “It’s kind of like therapy,” she described it. She usually introduces the songs with the history behind them during a performance, in the hopes that each audience member will leave with a better understanding of themselves through those stories. “I don’t think people know that we have such a cool history,” she said.

Jami has also learned that change is inevitable. She said that she gets into a certain style of music as she continues to add to her repertoire, but she may find something else within a few months that catches her attention. Though this type of change may not work for an album, Jami has learned to embrace it. She gets excited when learning new music and says her favorite song is always the newest that she’s learned. She calls herself the “stereotypical unorganized artist” who usually forgets something and stresses about it before a performance, though it is usually nothing too important. “I’m getting better,” she said, laughing as she added that she’s never forgotten something like her guitar.       

She also enjoys playing with other musicians and has had the chance to sit in or jam out with talent including Hank Harris, James Van Nuys, Kenny Putnam and others, and she has plans for other up and coming collaborations with area musicians. She recently performed for the first time with her boyfriend, Ryan, whom she described as a better guitar player than she and a “really great support in music.” The two put on a “pretty good show together,” and Jami said that she hopes to see more of that in the future. She can also see the addition of more jazz to her repertoire. One of her current goals is to learn jazz chords. She has a few residencies in the artist in schools program this year as well, where she will be working on music with students in schools around the area. “This next year will be very interesting—but I’m so excited,” she said.

And who knows what other excitements the year could bring? For South Dakota Public Broadcasting fans, they’ve recently heard different interviews of Jami coming over the waves, and there’s still hope that before he retires, Garrison Keilor will also discover the talent of one of the newest Black Hills faces that so many of her listeners already know. Whether Jami can pick up that performance on her upright radio in her living room is another story. But if you find yourself lucky enough to be there to hear it, make sure to request the mint tea.