Joan Osborne

5:45 p.m. Joan Osborne Sound Check

She starts in with a few howls and whooos while she warms up the higher octaves of her vocal range, the "head voice," first. She sips some hot tea and is wearing a casual outfit of a white t-shirt, under an untucked white long sleeve shirt, with some loose fitting jeans. Her hair hangs freely from side to side in those beautiful long brown curls that are as well known as her songs.

The band starts as Rainy Orteca plays some heavy bass grooves, and man, I was ready to dance... Then Erik Della Penna's guitar pops in with some syncopated almost ska like scratchy rhythms to the beat of the drums. Just three musicians jamming while Joan checks out the surroundings and prepares to soundcheck for tonight's performance.

After a couple of more minutes of checking all the instruments, Joan busts into that new Coolio single:

"1,2,3,4 - get yo' booty on the floor
Gotta get up to get down, gotta gotta get up to get down...

She stands there, very cool, very solid, warming-up slowly in a blues like vamp. When she sings low she holds her heart and exudes an earthly warmth. Joan has an almost conservative presence and seems to be saving up her energy for tonight's performance. But after a bit the power of the sound is enough to get her swinging her arms like a song-bird taking flight.

The instrumentation is sparse but her voice fits in perfectly with the sound. The guitar has a fair amount of distortion on it but works with the heavy bass and solid drumming.

They take a break as the keyboard player sets up. While he was plugs in, Joan asks for a little less kick and snare in the monitors, otherwise known as "traps." The soundboard adjusted and then the drummer took off! Joan responded with "You guys fucking rock!"

Then Joan grabs a guitar, starts a rhythm groove, and the band takes off. She enters a Zen-like and centered quality as she strums away. I smile wide at her and she smiles back and I feel good.

Soon the instrumentalists head off in separate directions, pandemonium breaks loose, and then one mandolin comes through. The band listens to the cue, become cohesive and started "St. Teresa" for a few bars while most of the club's staff enter the Warfield on their way to work for the night.

That's it. Joan puts some shades on, and it's time to relax. Everything sounds fine. Time to rest for the real show. What a lucky gal.

Article by Laura Belzer of JetPack