Niko Red Star was driving one day and saw an accordion player on the side of the street.
“She had her case out and she had a little forlorn look in here eye,” Niko Red Star says. “I was like you know what? I’ll see if she’ll play with my band.”
Niko Red Star starts packing away his double-bass as he looks over at her.
“Jenny’s been a musician around the area for quite a while. That’s Jenny’s buddy-friend Kent,” he says as he points to the young man standing next to her. “They come together as a package deal and he plays guitar.”
Niko Red Star walks out of City Tavern to finish packing the instruments. Kent stands behind Jenny, texting as she leans against a post, still swinging with half-closed eyes.
“We’re more or less a package deal on a personal level, I mean we’re dating,” she says.
Jenny and Kent freelance for The Southland Swing Band and tonight is his first show with them. She has played the accordion for a few gigs. Kent, a jazz student at UNT, performs in rock groups and fusion groups.
“He is incredibly talented and has his own groups and performs a lot around the area,” she says.
Jenny started taking accordion lessons when she was seven. Eventually she started taking piano and voice. Jenny, from Fort Worth, started playing on streets, stages and festival stages since she was 11 or 12.
“I got a business degree in college. I didn’t study music,” she says. “I’ve just been taking lessons and performing all my life so. This is what I do.”
She’ll teach private lessons every so often, but is primarily a performer.
“I’m a songwriter,” she says. “There are a lot of different ways I get out there and do my thing, you know?”
Jenny has been on many tours and in countless instances where she did not have a place to stay the night. People at the venue will offer her to stay with them. The coolest place she has stayed was with a friend in the Los Angeles area.
“We stayed at his place one time on tour and he has this incredibly interesting house and a yacht and took us out on the water, it was really neat,” she says. “The whole band was just having a great time and he took us to some neat places in town it was a great, bizarre experience, like we’re sitting on a yacht tonight, okay!”
There have been other times when she hasn’t felt welcome at various gigs. One time, someone even shorted her money.
“That was maybe one of the worst things just because I typically have I do just have a lot of faith in people and humanity and venues,” she says.
It doesn’t happen often, but one time it did and it really hurt her personally, as an artist and someone working with the venue. There wasn’t anything she could do except brush it off and say “okay that happened but I’m not going to let it get me down next gig.”
“And maybe you just choose not to play there again,” she says. “That’s really the way it goes.”