Cleveland’s Anne E. DeChant to play Fat Jimmy’s

Andrew Hampp

Anne E. DeChant has performed with the likes of Melissa Etheridge, Norah Jones, Stevie Nicks and RuPaul. Which do you think had the best makeup tips?!

Credit: Andrew Hampp

After 15 years as a successful fixture on the Northeastern Ohio music scene, Cleveland-based singer-songwriter Anne E. DeChant is one star who’s ready to be popped.

As her fourth and latest album, Pop the Star, proclaims, DeChant is finally poised for national recognition. Having branched out on her own after comprising a third of the successful Cleveland female folk/rock trio Odd Girl Out in the early ‘90s, DeChant is thriving as a solo artist yet craving a little bit more.

“That line,” DeChant said of her latest album’s title, “is just about people who tell you they’re gonna make it happen for you, you’ll blow up and be a big star. When I had first gone solo, I had to learn how to deal with thinking management was gonna take care of everything for you and finding out that’s not true.”

DeChant instead put herself in the reliable hands of producer Don Dixon, and the results are at often times driving, consistently melodic folk-pop record that dabbles in gospel and dance. The album is so sonically solid, you wouldn’t even know it was recorded in the most non-traditional of recording locations.

“(Don) doesn’t work in the studio,” said DeChant of the man who produced the early REM albums Murmur and Reckoning. “He brings everything with him in (his) van, and we sort of pick a spot.”

Among the spots they picked to record at were a bar in Cleveland, a Presbyterian church in Canton and DeChant’s backup singer’s dining room.

“He brings what he needs to create the sound,” DeChant said. “(The recording process) is not as arduous as it could be. You’re in great hands, and it’s nice to work with someone like that.”

DeChant will be in the great hands of Kent when she performs at Fat Jimmy’s this Saturday.

If all goes well this weekend, the Kent show could add to a string of memorable gigs for DeChant, who has opened area shows for Stevie Nicks, Norah Jones, Melissa Etheridge and, in its final year, Lilith Fair.

“Lilith Fair was a good day,” DeChant recalled, “but at the same time, it was kinda tough. We had 20 minutes, and they were strict about it: ‘Be done in 20 minutes.’ We didn’t have a CD at the time, so I made a two-song tape to sell and we sold 42 of them in 20 minutes.”

The successful gig led to a glowing write-up in The Plain Dealer and some first-hand contact with the Lilith founder herself, Sarah McLachlan.

“She was very gracious,” DeChant said of the Lilith luminary. “She was really welcoming and included me in everything, like the press conference. I met Liz Phair, who taught me the final song we did. It was great.”

DeChant’s Lilith jam session would prove to serve as a precursor to the monthly musician gatherings she hosts at Cleveland’s Winchester Tavern. The eclectic evenings, called The Round, have brought in musicians from all over the country including Randy Horvath, Chris Allen and even Pop the Star producer Dixon.

“It’s just like a songwriter’s round,” DeChant said. “There’s four of us onstage, and we take turns talking about our songs then just play with guitar and vocals. It’s a very intimate, real music lovers’ kinda night.”

The Round has become a bit of a local draw, bringing in 50 to 100 people on most nights, a number DeChant is quite pleased with.

“It’s starting to stabilize, so I’m not freaking out so much every time. I think word’s starting to spread.”

Word is indeed spreading about the hard-working, effortlessly talented DeChant, and she, for one, would certainly like it to spread even further. But if not, she said, that’s OK, too.

“I know how to do it at a grassroots level,” DeChant said, but “I think nationally it would be nice to have some other people taking care of me. It would just be nice to play more places.

“I’ve learned to make CDs ‘cause I want to make them. I don’t really count on them. I try to make other things happen. I don’t sort of count on (making it big), although I do think if we ever had a chance at it, this is the CD.”

Contact pop arts editor Andrew Hampp at [email protected].