With her red hair and attention-getting slide guitar, Jodi Siegel regularly attracts comparisons to Bonnie Raitt. But the Chicago-raised Siegel, who visits Brad Colerick’s Wine & Song series Wednesday, brings her own sly style and finesse to music, even as she similarly melds blues, soul and pop.
Raised in a musical family (her father, Sid Siegel, was a composer for industrial musicals), Siegel often incorporates mellow jazz into her playing too, perhaps as a result of years paying the bills playing three-hour cover gigs at restaurants and lounges. The performance chops she has developed as a result of that professional dues paying have earned her serious respect from peers, as has her songwriting. It’s undergirded by the bluesy soul that has defined her style since she first found her footing in the Southern California blues community in the late 1980s. Marcia Ball recorded Siegel’s “So Many Rivers to Cross” for her 2003 album “So Many Rivers”; Teresa James, Maria Muldaur and Corey Stevens, among others, have also incorporated her emotionally intelligent songs into their repertoires.
Scroll through the photo galleries on Siegel’s website and Facebook page, and you’ll find collegial shots of her smiling with friends like David Lindley, Steve Lukather and Leland Sklar — and hero Albert King, who looked on approvingly back when Siegel’s hair was shorter and more tightly curled, and she looked barely big enough to handle the archtopped Gibson she stared down at so intently. The rhythmically sophisticated style she has developed over the ensuing years is similarly focused on her guitar playing, which does the heavy emotional lifting.
Onstage, Siegel is soft–spoken, but her lyrical wordplay is sharp. She’s inclined to slip “alternative political song” “More to Love” between audience-pleasing tunes from her 2007 album “Stepping Stone” like the slide-greased “Feels Like Home” or the Otis Redding-referencing “No Truer Words Were Ever Spoken,” letting understatement drive home her points. “Some folks ride the fence playing hard to get/ Indecisively politically correct/ Dodging confrontation ’bout race or religion/ Backing out from any head-on collision,” she sings conversationally during “If You Don’t Stand for Something You’ll Fall for Anything,” a midtempo groover that insightfully singles out principles uniting lovers and politicians — and artists. “But it’s all the same in love and war/ You’ve got to be present to be accounted for.”
Jodi Siegel and Ernest Troost each play two short sets as featured artists at Wine & Song at Arroyo Seco Golf Course, 1055 Lohman Lane, South Pasadena, 7-10 p.m. Wednesday, July 25; $15. jodisiegel.com, wineandsong.com