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Jennifer Daniels weaves stories with folk music
Jennifer Daniels performs Friday at Crimson Moon Cafe in Dahlonega.


"Stay" by Jennifer Daniels

Seeing Jennifer Daniels in concert is more than just watching an acoustic folk rock performance. It’s an experience in storytelling.

At times during her shows, she said, it feels like she is just hanging out with the audience like it’s a group of old friends.

"One of the strongest things about the live performance is we have this rapport with the audience; we’re just laughing together," she said during a phone interview from her home in Lookout Mountain. "It may not be about the next song, but it will be about something. We laugh a lot and talk a lot."

Daniels brings her storytelling and songs to the Crimson Moon Cafe on Friday. And while she said she always is appreciative of concertgoers who buy her latest CD, "Summer Filled Sky," it’s the live show that puts her music into context.

"I’m really proud of the record, but I think what endears them to us is the live show."

Daniels will be performing with her husband, Jeff Neal, who provides guitar and mandolin accompaniment. The couple have been writing songs and touring for the better part of 10 years now, she said, but have a schedule of touring the Southeast for about a month and a half, then back at home for about a week.

Growing up, Daniels said, song writing was a game before she realized it was a gift. She and her brother would make up musical games as children.

Today, that game has become a livelihood she shares with Neal.

"He’s a much better musician than me, and he’ll come up with some of the coolest things that will really challenge me," she said.

When she’s writing a song, Daniels said, the melody usually comes first. "I think the words are easiest for me, so they just kind of flow out whenever, as long as I have a melody."

That’s mainly because she just loves hearing people’s stories, she said. She also holds a master’s degree in counseling, she said, so listening to what people have to say is almost what she’s trained to do.

"I really love hearing people’s stories," she said. "I love to ask questions and hear from people and find out what’s going on with them."

Many of these stories work their way into her music, and she and Neal have a new collections of songs they are eagerly waiting to record for their next album.

"Summer Filled Sky" was released almost two years ago, Daniels said, so it’s time for some new tunes. While past records were self produced, she said she is so confident of their latest collaboration that they plan to shop the upcoming record around to record companies.

"In the beginning we just thought, we’re not going to give control to anybody. And we did a couple albums like that and it was successful enough. It paid the bills," she said.

But the new music is growing into something much bigger, she said.

"I’m really excited about it. I’ve already got this big concept album (in my head) and Jeff keeps reeling me back in," she said. "I always start doing that. I was an art minor and I’m drawn to colors and shapes. ... It’s just natural for me to try to add shapes and pictures with the songs. It’s a little bit bigger than me when I start thinking about it."

Until then, fans can hear some of the new songs in Dahlonega on Friday.

"I love driving up there," she said of Dahlonega. "It seems like no matter where we’re coming from, whatever road we take to get there’s beautiful and it helps you just slow down and get you in the mood for music."