MONTCLAIR, NJ - Montclair’s The Art Garage on Glenridge Avenue hosted the original I Kissed a Girl singer.
Jill Sobule, Denver-born, Los Angeles based singer-writer, storyteller, activist, and amazing performer, came to Montclair to celebrate her 50th birthday. Alex Nolan was her lead guitar and backing vocals in a sold out venue.
Sobule and Nolan circled the room, singing, up close and personal with die-hard fans. The space was filled with positive energy. The audience broke out laughing when Sobule said, “Can you imagine me on stimulants? That’s just redundant.”
Her song lyrics tackle anything from adolescence, to psychotropic drugs, to the Christian right. Her fans soaked it all in.
The litany of songs performed included Bobbie Gentry, The Girl in the Affair, Strawberry Gloss, Margaret, Dottie’s Charm Bracelet, Lucy at the Gym, and more. She also sang three songs from her adaptation of Yentl, the play about a Polish-Jewish girl who dresses like a boy so she is able to study in a Yeshiva. Identifying with the character helped Sobule pen the lyrics for the show which ran through October 5th last year in Washington DC.
One of her fans, Bill King, the first one in line at the door said, “I saw her live at least 30 times. Jill and I share a sense of humor. I even saw her last night in New York. She gave an amazing performance at Lincoln Center.”
The song “Big Shoes” was written as a response the embarrassment she felt as a child for not being able to wear regular shoes, due to needing braces. She called her mother on the phone while she sang the song. Literally. A member of the audience used their cell phone to call Sobule’s mother who answered the phone and wished her daughter a happy birthday. With the cell phone on speaker, plastered to the microphone, Sobule’s mother rebutted the song by singing her own refrain,
“ If it wasn’t for me and those big shoes
You’d never be on MTV news
You’d have crooked ugly twisted toes
And still be wearing Dr. Scholls”
Her mother then asked, “Are they being nice to you? I love you! Bye honey.” to which pretty much everyone in the room replied, “Bye mom.”
The last song performed that evening was When They Say We Want Our America Back, What The F… Do They Mean? which had the audience roaring and applauding. Sobule is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post, where back in 2011 she referenced this song in a blog post, saying, " I wrote this at the Netroots shindig for The Freedom From Fear Awards, a national award that honors 15 ordinary people who have committed extraordinary acts of courage on behalf of immigrants and refugees..."
The fans were aware that it was Sobule’s birthday; many came bearing gifts. As the show ended, Suzanne, owner of The Art Garage, carried in a birthday cake and everyone sang happy birthday. Not surprisingly, even after she bid the audience farewell, Sobule stayed among the crowd and shared hugs and autographs freely.