Jen Clapp is a singer, songwriter and guitar player living and working in New York's Hudson Valley. Although she has been singing all of her life, moving to New York City and forming a band there in the early 1990s proved to be a defining moment for her. Along with Star Drooker and JR Getches she formed the alternative folk-punk-soul band Native Tongue. The band quickly became a fixture in the downtown New York acoustic scene, with a weekly gig at the now-famous Café Sin-é on St. Mark's Place. There they enjoyed the camaraderie of many talented musicians and songwriters, including Jeff Buckley, Susan McKeown and the Chanting House, and Dorothy Scott. Singing "Black Boys on Mopeds" with Sinead O'Connor during one of her visits and playing a late night set with Bono, the Edge and Little Steven in the crowd were two highlights of their tenure at Sin-é.
Native Tongue split up when Jen fell in love with Mommyheads drummer Dan Fisherman and the two moved out to San Francisco, along with the rest of Dan's band. Thus began a long hiatus from music for Jen, as she pursued a completely different life-path as a homebirth midwife, followed a few years later by motherhood. It was in this period that she began to rediscover music. Jen began writing her own songs in 1996. A second child was born in the summer of 2001, and the family moved back East, to their home state of New York, where Jen continued to write and perform.
January 2009 saw the release of her long-awaited debut CD, Lonesome Sunbeam. Recorded at home in her basement studio, the record contains 10 tracks and features Jen on vocals and acoustic guitar, alongside several other musicians: Dan Fisherman (Mommyheads) on drums and keyboards; Sara Milonovich (Cathie Ryan, Richard Shindell) on violin; Jason Crigler (Linda Thompson, Marshall Crenshaw), Adam Elk (Mommyheads) & Mark Dziuba share guitar credits; Simon Walsh & Jason Sarubbi (The Trapps) share bass credits. The songs on the cd range from alt-country (Might Have Moved On, Believe In Me) to pop rock (Lonesome Sunbeam, On Seven Stones, Voodoo Baby) and other interesting places in between. Of the record, Jen notes:
“I wanted to hear these songs with full arrangements and instrumentation, which is why I chose to record with a full band. But I also wanted the songs to keep the warm intimacy that a voice and guitar can convey. This record is, to me, a beautiful expression of both intentions.”
Center, Beacon NY 10/05