Woman At Work: Jennifer Hartswick

Grace Beehler on July 16, 2012

Van Ghost

“It seems like no one wants to feel good anymore,” says singer/songwriter/trumpeter Jennifer Hartswick. “People are putting out angry or dark music and there is a big chunk missing where it’s OK to feel good and smile.”

For a woman who has her hands full with a multitude of endeavors, it could be easy for Hartswick to let her busy schedule stress her out – she will be home for only seven days during the next three months. However, she has many things to feel good and smile about these days: a new solo album, Ocean Floor, released in November 2011; solo tours as well as tours with the Trey Anastasio Band, the New York Hustler Ensemble, and Van Ghost; and now, a new record with Van Ghost, The Domino Effect.

Van Ghost, which features Hartswick, singer/guitarist Michael Harrison Berg, guitarist Grant Tye, drummer Greg Marsh and bassist Klem Hayes, is a band with a more pop-rock mentality than Hartswick’s other projects. And even though the sound might be different than the sound of TAB or the NY Hustlers, “It’s all music that we believe in,” Hartswick says. “As long as I’m surrounded by great musicians and wonderful people, that’s all that I care about, really. I can be singing soul music or R&B music or country music – it doesn’t matter to me – it’s all the same thing.”

It is a mentality that began when she was 17 when she first recorded with Phish and Trey Anastasio. “Trey has this really amazing way of letting everyone be themselves,” she says. “It’s a testament to a secure human being when you can hire people and the only thing you ask of them is to be themselves. Being so young and having everyone around me saying, ‘whoever you are is exactly what you should be,’ I grew up thinking that’s the truth. That was invaluable shaping in terms of who I’ve become as a woman and as a musician.”