Letitia VanSant - "Circadian" Album Release Show w/ Jasmine Gillison - 4.2.20Thursday, April 02 2020 6pm Doors / 7:30pm Start
Letitia VanSant - "Circadian" Album Release Show w/ Jasmine Gillison - 4.2.20
at The Wine Garden
$15.00 in Advance / $18.00 Day of Show
" a fascinating new artist." - BBC Radio
"...a consummate reflection of a rising Americana star." - PopMatters
Singer-songwriter Letitia VanSant’s lyrics are as personal as they are political, tracing questions of power into the human heart. With sparse indie folk arrangements fortifying her distinctly intimate vocal style, her down-to-earth stage presence has been described as “vibrant and approachable.” VanSant’s debut album Gut It to the Studs established her as an emerging talent on the Americana scene and propelled her on her first UK/European tour. PopMatter describes her as “a consummate reflection of a rising Americana star” and BBC Radio calls her “a fascinating new artist.” Her songwriting has earned several awards, including the Kerrville New Folk Songwriting Competition, an honor shared among the likes of Lucinda Williams and Lyle Lovett. Her follow-up album Circadian is due out in February of 2020.
With Jasmine Gillison:
“My friends have pushed me into the pool several times over the years,” says Jasmine Gillison.
Sporting tortoise-shell glasses and a pinstriped scarf on a recent Monday night at Spider Kelly’s,
the Arlington-based artist attributes many of her musical accomplishments—from recording her
debut EP to attempting bass guitar in a Flashband—to a combination of friendly prodding and
Born in upstate New York, Gillison moved to Fairfax County as a child, attending middle school
in Chantilly and picking up the piano, guitar and clarinet (an instrument she continues to play in
the Herndon Regional Wind Ensemble) along the way. At the University of Virginia, she
sometimes found herself holed up in her bedroom strumming Jason Mraz and Nelly Furtado
covers. But it wasn’t until 2010, two years after she graduated, that she stepped into the glare of
her first spotlight during an open mic night.
“I remember shaking,” Gillison says of her performance at The Old Firestation No. 3 in Fairfax.
A lot has happened since then. After relocating to Arlington in 2013, Gillison sought out an open
mic venue near her job at Artisphere. She found herself at IOTA, a now-defunct music house on
Wilson Boulevard, legendary for its warm community vibe.
There, she connected with several of her current collaborators, including regular stage mate
Matthew James Scott—one half of Matthew and Jasmine—and drummer Ben Tufts, whom she
had previously met while both were working at a local music camp. Tufts ultimately would
become the co-producer of her recently released EP, called Little Light.
On that record, which Gillison began recording after winning a raffle for free studio time at a Ben
Tufts and Friends benefit show, the artist sings mostly ballads backed by a full band. She
doesn’t mince words. “I’ve been knocked down / I don’t like myself like this,” she sings on “In My
Chest,” a song she wrote not long after the demise of a relationship.
Many songwriters begin new tunes by constructing a melody and then adding dummy lyrics until
they’ve settled on the real ones. Gillison works in reverse.
“The story comes to me first,” she says. “Then I’ll pick up the guitar and just start messing
around, and wait until something sounds right or feels right.”
The EP’s most powerful song is also its most stripped-down: On “Last Page,” we hear only
Gillison, who holds down vocals, guitar and clarinet. The tune begins with a tender guitar
arpeggio, leading into an all-too-relatable lyric: “Here we are again / Last page of a chapter I
don’t want to end.”
During a recent performance, Gillison says she forgot the words to the latter half of the song. In
a way, it was a relief, a friend later told her. Some audience members had been near tears up
until that moment.
Now 32, Gillison is earnest in both her music and in person—a quality she says she admires in
other artists. At a December Women Who Rock show at Pearl Street Warehouse—sponsored
by projectHERA, which promotes the work of female musicians in the D.C. area—musicians
were asked to pay tribute to ’90s icons. Gillison chose singer-songwriter and Righteous Babe
Records founder Ani DiFranco.
“I saw her perform for the first time last year at 9:30 Club, and it just felt like this beam of light
was coming from the ceiling through her down to the floor,” Gillison says. “She is so strong in
her convictions and her ethics and how she feels about how people should treat other people.
And there’s so much strength and honesty in her music.”
Indeed, light and honesty are themes that also run through Gillison’s own narratives. In her EP
cover art, she sits on a hardwood floor facing away from the camera, wrapped in vines of
When asked what she’d one day title her memoir, she says she’d stick with Little Light.
“Often, there’s a cloudiness around my brain and just a feeling of unsettledness, and I still feel
like I’m trying to figure out who I am and what I’m supposed to be doing in this life,” she says.
“But I do feel that there’s this little light of hope and motivation that always comes up and is