Sarah Jarosz has had one heck of a year. Not long after we spoke with the young multi-instrumentalist last April, she graduated from the New England Conservatory of Music.
In September, her third album Build Me Up From Bones was released, and it raced to No. 1 on the Americana chart ... where it remained for six weeks.
“I was surprised every week that it kept going on,” says the 22-year-old native of Waverly, Texas. “But it felt great. Especially that list, because I’m such an admirer and fan of so many people that are on that chart, specifically. It just seems to be a lot of my favorite musicians, so that made it even more special to have that happen.”
Jarosz has played with, and/or toured with, most of her favorite musicians. Adept at mandolin, banjo, guitar and pretty much everything else with strings, she is also a gifted vocalist who can harmonize with anyone. And make them sound even better.
Oh, yeah. Build Me Up From Bones was nominated for two Grammys.
Did I mention that Sarah Jarosz is just 22 years old?
Having played (several times) at the Savannah Music Festival, she’s back in our area this week, for a March 15 show at Randy Wood Guitars in Bloomingdale. As always, Jarosz will be accompanied by Nathaniel Smith (cello) and Alex Hargreaves (violin).
A restless musician who’s always looking to learn and better herself, Jarosz chose to cut down on her live shows so she could attend music school.
“I’m incredibly proud to be able to finish it,” she explains, “but I’m also excited to have that part of my life behind me and be able to focus on these shows and my music even more now. I’m super, super thankful for that time and that experience.”
So far, nobody’s offered her a movie role. “I wouldn’t turn that down, necessarily, depending on what it was,” she says, laughing at the very suggestion. “But for right now I’m just focusing on being out on the road as much as possible. Playing as many live shows as I can. This year, that’s really the focus, because I wasn’t able to do that before full-time, being in school.”
The last six months have been exceptionally fruitful. “A lot has happened, graduating being a big one,” Jarosz explains. “This past August, I moved to New York City. I’m living in New York and loving it. The record came out in September, and I did a three-month tour to wrap up the year. I got to tape an Austin City Limits with the Milk Carton Kids, which was pretty special.
“And this year has been off to a crazy start as well. I got to do the Conan O’Brien show, and the Craig Ferguson show, went out to the Grammys. That was big.
“And then I got to do this thing called The Transatlantic Sessions Tour. I had done the TV show once, a few years ago, and this time I got to go and tour with Shawn Colvin, Tim O’Brien and Darrell Scott and Jerry Douglas. A really great group of folks to get to make music with.”
In June, Jarosz and company will perform at Bonnaroo. In August, their tour will take them to England’s Cambridge Folk Festival.
It seems pretty obvious that future generations, when discussing the great acoustic music artists of the 21st century, will talk about Sarah Jarosz alongside people named Fleck, Krauss, Skaggs, Thile and Gill.
That sort of thing embarrasses Jarosz. She considers herself just another working —and evolving—musician.
“The musicians that I’ve always looked up to, since I was a little kid, are the kind of exploratory musicians who never seem to stop learning,” she says. “Early on, when I had the chance to go to David Grisman and Mike Marshall’s mandolin camp, with Chris Thile, all of them are constantly pushing the envelope and constantly trying to discover new music. Even heroes like people that I don’t know, someone like Paul Simon or Joni Mitchell, these are artists that are constantly re-inventing themselves. And I think I’ve always been really attracted to that, and inspired by that.
“Ultimately, for me I feel like the way that happens is getting to collaborate with other musicians. Getting to play with musicians that are better than you. And just be pushed, you know?
“And I think that’s a big part of why I decided to move to New York, for the scene here. Yes, there’s a great acoustic scene, but there’s also everything else you could ever think of. To be surrounded by that, it’s very exciting. And I’m the kind of person who’s always going to want to put myself in those positions. To just hear something new, and try to create something from that.”