Folk artist Jan Bell will perform a solo set of live music at 4:30 p.m. June 30 in People’s Park. The show will be free and open to the public as part of the People’s Park concert series.
Bell first got in contact with the organizers of the concert series after she played on “Saturday’s Child,” a WFHB radio show hosted by Dan Grundmann. She said the concert series organizers reached out to her after hearing her on the show and asked her to apply for the series.
Her most recent album, “Goodbye View,” was released on May 31. A brief seven tracks, the album was recorded a number of years ago with Bell’s band, the Maybelles. Bell said they had plans to release and tour the album when it was recorded, but other members of the band became pregnant.
A native of Yorkshire, England, Bell currently splits her time between Brooklyn, New York, and Brown County, Indiana. She got her start as a songwriter in New York City and still plays there often, even founding and directing a biannual folk music festival called Brooklyn Americana, which is entering its eighth year.
Since the summer edition of the festival falls during Pride Month, Bell said her stage aims to highlight artists of the LGBTQ community as well as artists of color. Although the festival primarily features folk music, Bell said her definition of “Americana” is farther reaching than that.
“I say it’s Americana because Americana is such a big umbrella. It can incorporate jazz and folk and country and blues, et cetera,” Bell said.
Bell has lived and played all over the country, including in New Orleans, Nashville, Indiana, Eureka Springs, Arizona, and the Ozark Mountains. She spoke about Opal Fly, a Brown County saxophonist with whom Bell plays now, and their time playing in Eureka Springs.
“Opal and I lived in Eureka Springs at the same time. In fact, when I was the snare drummer in her band, we opened for Ray Charles and his orchestra there,” Bell said. “It’s a population of 2,000 people but they have a 1,000-seat theater.”
Bell said her show in People’s Park will be mostly original music, but she typically plays a tune or two by one of her inspirations, such as Woody Guthrie. She emphasized, though, that most of her set will likely be new to the audience.
“If you’re the kind of person who goes to live music to hear someone play something you know, I’m not for you,” Bell said. “Live music is what makes life colorful and interesting and I feel like it’s a privilege for me to have the microphone and be the amplified voice.”