Singer Justine Vandergrift continues to introduce audiences to her heartfelt, insightful tunes with a spot at next month’s Central Music Festival.
The family-oriented event, which runs Aug. 17-19, takes place in a natural outdoor amphitheatre located minutes north of the City – attendees can head north on Taylor Dr., cross Hwy. 11A and continue on the C&E Trail. Continue onto Township Rd. 392, turn left and the site is located just up the road.
Things kick off on the Friday at 6 p.m. The music runs Saturday from noon to midnight and on Sunday from noon until 5:30 p.m. Pretty much any genre can be heard, from blues, rock, country, folk, reggae, funk and jazz to Tex-Mex, Cajun, and bluegrass.
It’s the ideal venue for Vandergrift, with its comparatively intimate and up-close set up. She’s been singing and creating music her entire life, and today her tunes fall into a number of categories from country-folk, jazz, blues and pop. Vandergrift has certainly carved out her own stylistic niche – the compelling simplicity of songs like Rubble and The Time Has Come, and her lovely cover of Gillian Welch’s Orphan Girl reveal an undeniable gift to make each song uniquely her own.
Vandergrift has been delving into music since she was a child; she recalls growing up in a musical home and being encouraged to sing along with her two sisters when they were kids. She later took voice and guitar lessons for a time as well.
“When I was really young I wanted a guitar, but I was too little so my mom bought me a ukulele. In Grade 8 I started playing guitar and things went from there.
“I learned how to cover other people’s songs, but I mostly wanted to create my own stuff.” Inspiration springs from a range of sources – from conversations to everyday experiences.
Next up, a gift for songwriting began to surface. And eventually an opportunity to record a CD came along as well. Vandergrift said at the time, she looked at it as more of a personal kind of project. But word started spreading and she ultimately found herself sharing more and more of her artistry.
“A lot of people really affirm what I was doing, so I decided to keep going,” she says.
For Vandergrift, music provides not just an ideal career but a very personal means of sharing her perspectives and views on the world.
“Sometimes the only way for me to deal with these things is to sing it or to express it musically,” she explains. “In a way it’s a therapeutic process, and that’s something I’m very interested in as well. I’d like to deal more with music therapy because I think that it’s such an incredible avenue for expression, for figuring out what’s going on inside and for being able to communicate in a way that words can’t.”
Last year she released Yes Alright OK to strong reviews and solid airplay support, thanks in part to lively, bold cuts like Waiting for Nothing. She is currently on the road to introduce folks to the newest material from the just-released So Far.
She has certainly found the genres that suit her voice perfectly.
“I think I knew even back as a teen; I gravitated towards folk and blues. Some of my role models included Patty Griffin, Paul Simon and Sarah Harmer – incredible songwriters that inspired me to write kind of like them while putting my own ideas forward in those kinds of melodies.”
Other artists slated to perform at Central Music Festival include Sista Monica, Heartbroke Heroes, the Steve Arsenault Band, Dick Damron, George Hamilton IV, the Amy Bishop Band, Morgan Davis, Steve Palmer and Scott Cook & the Long Weekends.
Meanwhile, Vandergrift has found the perfect path to travel.
“You have people who say you were able to speak to them in a really powerful way, and that they’ve been provided with some sort of healing or a new understanding of something. It’s a really powerful way to connect and the whole mystery of how that happens is really intriguing.”
For complete details including ticket information, check out www.centralmusicfest.com.