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Jewel has been in the music business long enough now to have witnessed firsthand the cycles and changes that, as a rule, continuously redefine the industry.

Some of those recent changes (namely, the focus on young, beautiful, overly produced pop divas and such) have forced the Alaskan-born singer-songwriter to reevaluate her professional relationships, and to make changes accordingly. For example, when her contract with her longtime label, Atlantic Records, expired recently, Jewel decided not to resign, but to trudge onward as a free agent.

“Atlantic’s been a great label for me,” Jewel said in a recent phone interview. “I don’t think any other label would have done such a great job with me.”

But there are new projects that Jewel has her eye on (specifically, three new albums—a country album, an album of lullabies, and a set of Cole Porter-inspired tunes) that she says aren’t necessarily records that would be good for Atlantic.

“I think it’s an interesting time to be an independent artist,” she says, “and to see how everything shakes out a little bit.”

Her most recent release on Atlantic, called Goodbye Alice in Wonderland, has had a slow start on the album charts, which Jewel attributes to the fact that she hasn’t had great success on the radio with Alice singles.

“That definitely affects record sales, for sure,” she says. “I just don’t think that being a singer-songwriter is a really popular thing to be right now. The industry has kind of swung into sort of the fashionista-pop world.”

“Because the industry has changed so much,” she continues, “getting your songs on the radio is more difficult—[radio stations] want to have the songs be familiar already to their audiences somehow, which can be puzzling, because if you can’t get your song on the radio, how are you going to get your song familiar to people?”

So, in terms of rolling with the industry’s ebb-and-flow, Jewel has been looking for new ways to promote her songs, and a major outlet she’s been taking advantage of lately is television. She’s had guest spots on popular TV shows like 7th Heaven, Men in Trees and Las Vegas. She performed her single, “Good Day,” on a recent episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, and she just signed on to host Nashville Star, the country version of the pop-music reality TV show American Idol (an episode of which she’ll also guest judge this season).

“I think a lot of us in the industry are looking to new ways to try and give our songs exposure,” Jewel says. “Especially songs that are a bit unusual, like the song I’m promoting, ‘Good Day.’ It’s a waltz, it’s in three-quarter time, it doesn’t sound like anything else that’s happening.”

If you haven’t heard it yet, you’ll have a chance to hear “Good Day” live when Jewel stops at the Palace tomorrow night on her Goodbye Alice in Wonderland tour.

“I enjoy being live, I think it’s fun,” Jewel says, “especially the solo show I’ll do for you all—you know, solo, acoustic, no band. It’s fun and it’s informal.”

Jewel will perform at the Palace Theater (19 Clinton Ave., Albany) tomorrow (Friday, Nov. 10) at 8 PM. Tickets are $39.50 and $49.50. For more information or to order tickets, call the Palace box office at 465-3334 or visit

—Kathryn Lurie

Vanaver Caravan

Woody Guthrie is everywhere. Chronicler of the Dust Bowl refugees, champion of working people, writer of more than a thousand plainspoken songs (new ones are still being found), Guthrie was the template for Bob Dylan and the spark for Bruce Springsteen’s newest recording.

Only last month, the Klezmatics made the Egg ring with a concert of Guthrie’s Jewish-touched songs drawn from when he lived on Coney Island with his wife Marjorie Mazia, who was a Martha Graham dancer.

Their meeting—more about which a little later—is a tale of folkloric wonder that leads, finally, to Pastures of Plenty, a dance concert of Guthrie’s songs by the multigenerational Vanaver Caravan this Sunday at the Egg.

“The songs are in all the different styles Woody wrote in and the dances are in different styles, too,” says Livia Vanaver, choreographer and co-founder of the Caravan with her husband Bill. “We’ll do stomp-rock, Lindy Hop, clogging, squares, even a Romanian gypsy dance, and percussive dances with body percussion. The ballads—‘Deportees,’ ‘Goin’Down This Road,’ and more—are narrative, with dancy theatrical movement.”

The show of dancing, singing, live music and shared narrative, taken from Guthrie’s own talking blues lyrics, premiered in 1999 at an international folk festival in Germany and has since “been all around this world,” as Guthrie might say. Like his music, it changes a little every time.

“We just added the Klezmatics’ “I’m Gonna Get Through this World the Best I Can,’ “ Vanaver says. The ballad, newly recovered from Guthrie’s archives, was set to music by the Klezmatics’ violinist.

Guthrie anthems include “Hard Travelin’,” “Union Maid,” and “Hobo’s Lullabye.” Powerful, if lesser-known songs are “Vigilante Man” and the outlaw-hero ballad “Pretty Boy Floyd.” Just for fun, there’s a jumping Lindy Hop called “Peace Pin Boogie” that gets the full swing-dance treatment. “We got bitten by the Lindy bug at the Dance Flurry (held every February in Saratoga Springs), and we wanted to put that into the show,” Vanaver says.

There are 30 dancers, including a dozen in the main company, plus teens from Vanaver’s Youth Company and a lively bunch of under-12-year-olds from the Caravan Kids. The musicians and singers include several well-known in the region: vocalist Amy Fradon from Woodstock, Adirondack fiddler John Kirk, and all-round percussionist Sam Zucchini, plus banjo players and horns. Bill Vanaver, well on the mend from a heart attack last March, will play the drums and may do a short dance—his first concert appearance in seven months. “He feels almost like he’s got a new life. Every day is a gift. He loves people and life in a new way,” his wife says.

Now, about Woody Guthrie, the singer, and Marjorie Mazia, the dancer. They met in 1942 when choreographer Sophie Maslow called on Guthrie to play his guitar for her new dance, Folksay, set to the his dust-bowl ballads. “Rehearsals were a disaster because Woody never played anything the same way twice,” Vanaver says. “The dancers couldn’t keep the counts. They kept bumping into each other. So, Sophie assigned Marjorie to make cue cards for Woody to keep him on a steady beat. During those rehearsals, they fell in love.”

The Vanaver Caravan will perform Pastures of Plenty at 3 PM Sunday (Nov. 12) at the Egg (Empire State Plaza, Albany). Tickets are $18 general, $14 for seniors and $9 for kids. Call 473-1845 for more info.

—Mae G. Banner

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