By Bailey Faulkner
Jazz fans of the High Country: clear your calendars for a special night in Boone this Sunday, May 28. Local jazz singer Maureen Renihan will take the stage with guitarist Troy Conn and bassist Mike Holstein at The Local for her debut album release show from 7-10 p.m.
Renihan’s recently-released debut, Softly, marks the beginning of a new chapter in the established jazz musician’s five-year career. Recorded at Old House Recording Studio in Charlotte with sound engineer Chris Garges, Softly features Renihan’s “deeply personal angle” on ten jazz standards and a Beatles tune paired with minimal but tasteful instrumentation from Conn and Holstein.
Renihan got her start in jazz music after meeting musicians in the area through her background in theater. Eventually crossing paths with a jazz trumpeter, Renihan was surprised both that the High Country had a jazz scene to offer and that the genre could be something she would enjoy exploring. Like with any skill, Renihan honed her jazz musicianship through practice and hard work.
“I went out to my first gig not knowing much, but I figured things out after messing up a lot,” Renihan said.
Since that first show, Renihan has made a name for herself both in the High Country and regionally. Having reached the five-year mark as a vocalist this May, Renihan performs both with other local and regional jazz musicians every Wednesday at The Local and at venues throughout North Carolina and Tennessee.
During her time as a jazz musician, Renihan has grown especially fond of Conn and Holstein, both highly sought-after jazz instrumentalists throughout North Carolina.
“It’s kind of ridiculous to be working with Mike Holstein and Troy Conn. I went from not knowing much to working with them,” said Renihan.
Preferring the stripped and intimate sound of a trio with guitar, bass and vocals only, Renihan specifically chose Conn and Holstein for their unique style and sound when recording her debut album.
“I wanted to do something that had different layers of dark and light and these guys were perfect,” Renihan reflected.
Conn and Holstein’s support for her album release show at The Local will hold a special place in Renihan’s heart.
“Mike and Troy are very impressive together, and for a jazz enthusiast, they are excellent. This particular trio is my favorite.”
The musician will come off a stretch of notable performances for her album release show on Sunday, having played at the Johnson City Jazz Festival and Grandfather Vineyard & Winery last week. Renihan is also scheduled to headline a show with Holstein at the 5 Walnut Wine Bar in Asheville this Saturday.
Renihan’s album release show will be free to the public, and CDs will be available for purchase at the event. If you can’t wait until Sunday to hear her new release, you can purchase Softly on cdbaby.com or stream the “intimate, sometimes playful, sometimes dark” release on Spotify.
With a plethora of classic jazz tunes from which to choose for her debut release, Renihan selected ten standards that explore the highs and lows of everyday life.
“Softly basically covers all the stages of love. I chose songs that I relate to and that reflect the ups and downs of it all,” Renihan said.
More than an opportunity to sell records, Softly marks an accomplishment that Renihan could not have imagined five years ago.
“I thought making an album was out of reach and expensive, but last year I decided to go for it. I was able to do this thing that I thought I would not be able to do.”
The Local is located at 179 Howard Street in Boone. Renihan’s performance will be free to the public and is scheduled for 7-10 p.m. If you have any questions or would like to make reservations for the event, call The Local at (828) 266-2179.