‘Brit’ Jesca Hoop returns to US 

It was a bold idea, and whimsical West Coast chanteuse Jesca Hoop still remembers the moment it hit her.

In 2008, she was tooling around Ireland on the tour bus of Mancunian prog-rockers Elbow, for whom she was opening, with vocalist Guy Garvey seated on her right and the band’s manager on her left.

“They were seriously talking me into moving,” Hoop says. “Guy was saying, ‘We’ll take good care of you. You should just move to Manchester, Jess!’ And that just tore the last string from my attachment to L.A., and to the United States in general.”

On Sunday, Hoop returns to the Bay Area, where she once worked as a nanny for Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan — the first musicians to encourage her to pursue songwriting.

She’s backing her ethereal new “Hunting My Dress” set, issued on her own Last Laugh imprint abroad but licensed to Vanguard stateside.

Hoop can’t help but chuckle at her tour billing as a “U.K. sensation.”

“People are probably going, ‘Wait a minute, what are they talking about? She’s from California!’” Hoop says.

The vagabond did indeed heed Elbow’s advice. Freed from her contract with Columbia, which released her critically acclaimed 2007 debut “Kismet,” she returned to L.A. and finished tracking “Dress” (featuring a lute-delicate duet with Garvey, “Murder of Birds”).

Hoop’s mother had passed away after a lengthy battle with cancer (documented in the elegiac “Whispering Light” and “Angel Mom”), so a one-way ticket to Manchester, England, proved inevitable.

“I didn’t have anything holding me back,” says Hoop, who now writes and records in a giant converted shipping crate adjacent to her English flat. “So I sold and gave away 90 percent of my possessions. Basically got rid of everything I couldn’t fit into four suitcases.”

She set up her company and applied the survival skills she’d acquired in her “raccooning days” of wilderness living.
England was a relatively small place, Hoop figured. “And it’s very press-driven,” she says. “So if you have a good press agent, you can reach the entire country. And if you put together a good indie team, like I did, then you have a good chance of reaching your audience.”

It worked. “Dress” was soon garnering rave reviews overseas.



Jesca Hoop

Where: Hotel Utah, 500 Fourth St., San Francisco

When: 8 p.m. Sunday

Tickets: $7

Contact: (415) 546-6300, www.ticketweb.com

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Staff Report

Staff Report

A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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