Best Country/Americana Band - 2005
Valerie Jay & the Americanos
Real country music in San Francisco? Sounded like "jumbo shrimp" until we heard this British chanteuse and her Americana band. Hailing from Yorkshire, England, the 5-foot-11-inch songbird landed on Bay Area shores in 2001, with her red Gretsch guitar and a hearty American dream. We first caught wind of her at an open mike night at Nickie's on Haight, when we were struck by the triple-threat factor: looks like a model, speaks like Princess Diana, and sounds eerily like the ghost of Patsy Cline. Now she's gone and found herself a country band of authentic pickers and grinners, including musical director/bassist Rob McKloskey, pedal steel man Gary Chaippetta, drummer Ken Owens, guitarist K.C., and piano player David Kaffinetti, who (billed as "David Kaff") portrayed Viv Savage in This Is Spinal Tap. (We couldn't make this up.) Catch Jay's original mix of traditional and contemporary country songs along with covers of Patsy Cline, Elvis, Bob Dylan, and, yes, even Cher (you've got to hear her rendition of "Believe") at clubs all around the Bay Area, and grab a copy of her new album, Pacific Time, while you're at it.