Happy Birthday Jennifer Hartswick | TAB Kicks It Root Down

The JamBase Team would like to wish a very happy birthday to one of our favorite musicians - Jennifer Hartswick. Jennifer first came to our attention as a guest on Phish's studio version of "Birds Of A Feather" on the 1998 studio album The Story Of The Ghost. Phish front man Trey Anastasio hit it off with Hartswick and invited her to join the Trey Anastasio Band in 2001 and she's been a core member of nearly all of Trey's solo projects since.

[Photo by Rex-O-Vision]

Yet Hartswick's abilities go far beyond her Phish/TAB connection. Whether it's her severely underrated Jennifer Hartswick Band, the instrumental role she played in putting The Nth Power together or the many sit-ins and collaborations she's taken part in over the years, Jennifer's incredible voice and trumpet skills are among the best in the live music community today.

To celebrate JHa's birthday, let's take a look at the Trey Anastasio Band's cover of "Root Down" by the Beastie Boys from June 8, 2003 in Burlington, VT:

The story of how the band decided to cover "Root Down" is a hysterical one that she told in an interview with Phantasy Tour. Here is an excerpt:

PT: Did you grow up listening to Led Zeppelin? How soon before the tour did you hear "Black Dog?"

JHa: It’s really embarrassing, but I literally learned it the day before we performed it. "Dazed & Confused" we were going to do last tour so that one I already knew. Singing it at the Hammerstein was one of the few times I actually was nervous about performing because every single person in the crowd probably knew that song better than I did.

Same thing with "Root Down," this is hysterical. That was the most challenging one for me, I finally learned it well for Burlington. We were in the airport flying to San Francisco, and it’s 7 o’clock in the morning, and I happen to pass Trey in the airport and he goes, 'Jen, Root Down, Beastie Boys' and starts laughing. And I didn’t laugh, ‘cause I didn’t know the song, and didn’t know it was funny. He was shocked I didn’t know the song I covered it up and said, 'Well I don’t know it well,' I can’t be 22 and not know anything by the Beastie Boys. So he grabs my hand and we walk into the nearest record store, one of those little tiny things in the airport that just has the Top 40 stuff. So he finds the Anthology, 2-disc set, gets that, and walks up to the counter,

Trey: I need this and a discman??
(and the people were just laughing at him from the start)
Record Store: Ok. Would you like headphones?
Trey: Yes, I would like some headphones?
Record Store: Batteries?
Trey: Yeah, I need batteries.
Record Store: Which discman do you want? Red, Silver
Trey: (cutting them off) Red, totally Red.
Record Store: Would you like a splitter so you can both listen to it?
Trey: Yeah!
Record Store: And another set of headphones?
Trey: Yeah!

Five minutes go by and we are so set for life. And after all that, they say “These CDs are 2 for $20” and he says “No Way!” and grabs some Curtis Mayfield. Being with him is like a constant train-wreck that never quite wrecks, it’s just like “What are you doing?”, I love it, every moment is an adventure with him.

So they start opening everything for us, the discman, hooking up the splitter…

PT: Did they know who he was?

JHa: No. It wasn’t until we started singing along to the music playing in the store, it was so obnoxious that some flight attendant commented, 'Y’all must be musicians.' And we said yeah. 'What’s the name of your band?' so Trey says that he was in Phish and the record store people say, 'No way, we carry your CD!' and they grab Round Room off of the wall and have him sign it.

It was a big scene, but the final result was like something out of a movie, we’re both grooving down the airport at seven in the morning, listening to this red discman with a splitter both grooving and laughing, and it’s so early and everyone thinks we’re all messed up, but we just thought it was funny. And we got those notecards and performed it at the Warfield. But I really knew it by the Burlington version.

[Published on: 8/18/14]

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