Jess Martin: Superfan

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Photo: Jackson Smith Photo: Jackson Smith

We all know that fan—the one who can rattle off concerts dates and set lists, detailing the lineup, the between-song banter, and even the attire of her favorite band or musician. Jess Martin is of that tribe.

The 30-year-old Charlottesville resident has more concerts under her belt than some aging rock stars, and she’s just getting started. First bitten by the live music bug when she saw Juliana Hatfield at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro in 1995, Martin estimates that she’s attended 800 shows since. Ani DiFranco is the artist she has seen perform most often, and locally, the (now-defunct) band Moneypenny tops her list. Other locals she can’t get enough of include Corsair, Sharkopath, No BS! Brass Band, Michael Coleman, and the new stuff from Blake Hunter.

The thrills come in various ways for Martin. It can be a point and wave from Dave Grohl at a Foos arena gig, or the privilege of being in a venue during the sound check—like the time she heard Brandi Carlile warming up the piano with a rendition of “Mad World” played to an audience of four people. “I really think the sound checks have been the most memorable,” said Martin, “especially considering I couldn’t even form a sentence after the Brandi Carlile one.”

Despite an avid attendance pace, Martin still regrets the ones that got away. “Shows in the past I wish I could have seen are Sting’s Bring on the Night tour featuring Branford Marsalis, and locally, Snoop at the Jefferson,” she said.

A chef by trade, Martin carves out as much time as possible for her hobby, but her dream job would land her somewhere in the realm of concert hospitality, and ultimately running her own venue some day.

She’s logged almost 30 shows so far in 2013 with Superchunk, Pearl Jam, Meat Puppets, El Ten Eleven all on the horizon, and many more to come.

Although she sometimes travels as far as New York, D.C., and even Florida for concerts, Martin feels her love for live gigs is well-served in Charlottesville. “I am always hoping to get off work in time to walk down to the Mall and see music.”

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