For more than a decade, Kristine Jackson has been a fixture at northeast Ohio's clubs and bars, playing to patrons whose attention normally rest anywhere but to the musician onstage.
Because of that, she welcomes the opportunity of performing in front of an entirely different type of audience next week at Warren-Trumbull County Public Library.
"I enjoy it because it's such an intimate scene," she said during a recent phone interview from her Lakewood home. She'll appear with Matt Miller, the bassist in her band, KJBlues.
The acclaimed singer-songwriter contributed trumpet at various jam sessions and guest spots before learning the guitar and pursuing a solo career.
"I've been performing my own project for nine years now and I've never once had a game plan," she said. "I just go by the seat of my pants and who's in the audience. If I'm not feeling that they want a lot of dialogue, I'll just play more, but if there are people who have something to say and something to ask then I'll engage in that, too."
Having done previous library shows, Jackson looks forward to interacting with listeners. "There can be a storytelling portion to it. I don't get to do that too much in my live shows.
WHO: Kristine Jackson
WHEN: 6:30 p.m. May 9
WHERE: Warren-Trumbull County Public Library, 444 Mahoning Ave. N.W., Warren
COST: Admission is free. For more information, call 330-399-8807, Ext. 128
"It turns into a more personal side as to why I choose certain songs, artists that influenced a certain song or style. It is a musical hodgepodge because I don't like just one kind of music."
Jackson may be categorized as a blues artist due to her association with legendary Cleveland bluesmen Robert Lockwood Jr. and Austin "Walkin'" Cane as well as opening spots for Buddy Guy, B.B. King and Robert Cray but her originals, covers and influences show a range that makes her compatible with the blossoming Americana roots movement.
"I have that problem with the name. I don't really like it. I know it's generic but it's something that's been with me from the beginning because it was available online when I was making my website all those years ago. So, I stuck with it because marketing-wise it's already out there."
Taking part in the International Blues Competition as "something fun to do," Jackson realized that she was more of a music purist than a blues purist. She's performed in solo, duo and band formats in acoustic and electric lineups as well as a recent project that featured Jackson, a bassist and a deejay adding beats and scratches during the song.
The current version of KJBlues finds her on acoustic guitar, Miller on electric upright bass and Jack Charlton on harmonica.
She credits her time studying classical trumpet at University of Akron for providing a foundation that allows her to communicate better with other musicians. "What it gave me is perspective on every angle of a band situation. As far as creating music, I can listen as a frontman and know what I want around me because I've been on the other side."
Her time in college also reinforced what Jackson instinctually knew - she needed to be playing in front of people rather than grasping music theory and graduating with a degree.
"I knew that wasn't my place and I took that leap of faith and never looked back. When I was leaving I said, 'I'm gonna play for a living in these kind of situations.' I didn't know how I was going to do it but I was gonna do it."