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When I first saw Jackie Bristow at the Continental Club last year, she was opening for a popular local group and nobody had heard her before. When I caught a recent show at Momo’s however, she had quite a few fans of her own.

One of my top ten albums of 2007 was Ms. Bristow’s Crazy Love. I was head over heels to learn this New Zealand born artist was moving to Austin and chatted her up after the show.

Daisy: What brings you to Austin?

Jackie Bristow: Music, my love of music. I love Austin. The very first time I came here was during SXSW, which probably happens to a lot of people. I want to be inspired and be part of the musical community here.

DR: How did you get started in music?

JB: In primary school I used to sing in the church choir, and everyone had to learn the guitar and ukulele in school. Then I started singing country music when I was about 11, performing live with my sister Katrina. We used to tour in New Zealand going to festivals, our parents would drive us around. About that time I was 13 and Katrina was 10. We sang all over New Zealand. Then I went to music school, starting singing in a band when I was 15 and never looked back. Never done anything else! (laughs)

DR: You have lived in a lot of different places, including Sydney and Los Angeles. Are the scenes different wherever you go?

JB: Yeah, very different. When I was in New Zealand, I was in cover bands. I never did my own stuff, even though I wrote my own music. I didn’t know I could be a recording artist and do my thing. Then I moved to Sydney and within the first two weeks I got asked to be in this documentary, so that kind of got me into my own songwriting. I was in Sydney for about 10 years and I had a really great record deal. I worked around for 10 years, so I got to know all the musicians, play good venues and had built my profile up there a lot more. Then I moved to LA, and I had to go back to being an absolute zero, nobody. (laughs) But I fell on my feet. I met this woman from New Zealand whose husband is a brilliant keyboard player who played with Steely Dan. She helped me put a band together, so I would up playing with primo guys from Jackson Browne’s band and Melissa Etheridge’s band. So I had a really great band. But still, it’s really, really hard to get people to come to gigs in LA. Unless you’ve got big money behind you and are on the radio, people don’t go out to see music. So, I found that really hard. Then I went back to New Zealand and Australia and got some good gigs again opening up for Jimmy Webb and Phoebe Snow. So that was nice. Now, I’m in Austin. Starting at the ground again! But I can tell already from being here it’s very supportive of music and has a musical community.

DR: You played some new songs tonight. How do you approach songwriting?

JB: Most of my stuff is from my own experience. Something will happen and trigger something in me. I’ll start playing guitar, and the line will pop out and then a song will kind of evolve from that. I do play in lots of open tunings; I love playing around in open tunings. They sound really nice and helps to bring the melody.

DR: Are there certain tunings you prefer? Do you create your own?

JB: I am really lucky. On my first album, Larry Klein taught me some Joni Mitchell tunings. One of them is D-A-F#-E-A-D (high to low). It’s a beautiful tuning and I’ve written a lot of songs in that tuning. So, thanks to our hero, Joni Mitchell paving the way for all of us songwriters.

DR: What do you plan to do now in Austin?

JB: I’d like to establish myself, build a live following, make a new album. I need to find a new label, someone to work with me to put the recording out and build my profile. Play music, live a simple life.

Take a listen to Ms. Bristow and find out when her next show is at www.myspace.com/JackieBristow

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