Mosser Mesmerizes Hometown

By Karen Le Van

Jonell Mosser, with the help of Enough Rope, had the audience tied around her little finger by the second song. And the back-to-belly crowd at Air Devils Inn on March first and second loved every minute of it.

I first became aware of Jonell at Summer Lights in Nashville in 1989 when I ran into Will Perryman and he told me he was there to hear an old friend from Louisville, Jonell Mosser. In 1989 she was singing backup vocals for other performers at Summer Lights. At the 1990 Summer Lights, she was the featured performer on that same stage and at the same time as New Grass Revival had been the previous year. That's what I call making progress.

Marjie McGraw wrote in the Nashville magazine in July"of '89, "Mosser can't be described in words. She's a feeling, a color, good vibrations as uninhibited as Janis Joplin and with the same willingness to spill her guts on stage. The effect is mesmerizing."

At Air Devils she mesmerized and had the record-breaking crowd on tiptoes to catch a glimpse of where that fantastic voice was coming from. Jonell is no stranger to standing-room-only audiences. Her shows at the Bluebird in Nashville are legendary. It's hard to believe such a big voice can come from such a petite gal, but when she sings she gives the audience 110%. She dances and jumps and throws her strawberry blonde locks in all directions. A fan once said of Jonell, "When she's dancing onstage with that microphone, she makes every man in the audience wish he were a microphone."

Mosser and Enough Rope appeared on FarmAid last summer and she has been featured as a singer-songwriter on the Lonesome Pine Special series the past two years in the "Women in Music" segment. Last year she was joined by Pam Tillis and Maura O'Connell.

Mosser is not just a great "rock 'n' soul" singer (as she refers to her style) and performer, she is also a fantastic songwriter. Some of the best songs she sings are her originals, songs that grab at your heartstrings, like "Mama's Dream," "Let's Talk" or the "1940 Big-Band Splendor," to the fun songs, "I Like That In A Man," or to her gospel-flavored Irish "Blessings" song. Another song I heard at the Bluebird that made me an instant fan was "Oh What You Did to Me Last Night" written by Betty Crutcher. It's a great song and Jonell feels every word as she sings it.

As the crowd gathered at ADI Friday and Saturday, I overheard several people talking about where they had first heard her. One patron said he used to hear her in Bowling Green when she sang with a band called Yo' Mama. Another had become a fan at Picasso's, also in Bowling Green.

Or at the Ace of Clubs, Bluebird or Douglas Corner in Nashville. Some had the Jonell experience the past year when she opened for Shaking Family and showed them up at Uncle P's or at Snagilwet. Once you see her you have to come back for more.

Her band, Enough Rope, consists of Tom Britt on guitar, Victor Wooten on bass (when he isn't playing with Bela Fleck), Bob Britt on guitar, Jim Greasy on sax (he missed the ADI show previous commitments) and Dale Armstrong on drums.

While she's been waiting for her big break, Jonell has been doing backup vocals on albums with Etta James, Lacy J. Dalton, Gail Davies, Patti Smyth and Cheryl Wheeler, among others.

Jonell's main goal is almost within reach. She is in the process of putting together her first record deal. She's been in the studio putting the finishing touches on the album. It's being produced by Fred Foster with Norbert Putman engineering and Billy Sherill helping on the mix. She had Barry Beckett playing piano and Dan Huff playing guitar on some of the cuts.

Not a bad lineup! Once that all comes together and the rest of the world gets to experience Jonell Mosser, there won't be enough rope to hold her down from becoming a megastar.

Jonell Mosser and Enough Rope are scheduled to appear Derby Day at the Highland Post Hall of the American Legion at 2919 Bardstown Road. They will be sharing a bill with Steve Ferguson-led Brother Stephen and the Midwest Creole Ensemble. The event is being sponsored by Air Devils Inn.