'The Voice' contestant Charlotte Sometimes brings 'Brilliant, Broke and Beautiful Tour' to Pittsburgh


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It's the end of a monthlong tour and Charlotte Sometimes got up at 5 a.m. in Indiana to get to the last stop -- Pittsburgh. Packed in a PT Cruiser with two musicians and their instruments, she is making pretty good time on Interstate 70.

But during a cell phone interview, she admits she's a bit punchy.

"We're nice and cozy," she says. "We're having fun, but we're all tired and we're all sickly. And by 'we,' I mean just me."

Suddenly, the driver -- guitarist Tanner Walle -- has to swerve to avoid a truck.

"The trucks are being so aggressive. They're almost hitting us!" she says. "And we got a speeding ticket. A speeding ticket in a PT Cruiser with butterfly seat covers! It's sad altogether."

The question is: Is it worth it?

"Is it worth it?" she says. "Probably not, so we just drink a lot. And we're OK."

And then she laughs.

The interview is going to be a wild ride.

Charlotte Sometimes, 25, always wanted to be a singer-songwriter. Born Jessica Charlotte Poland in New York, she grew up in New Jersey.

"I think that when I came out of the womb I was just ready to go, ready to entertain," she said. "Here I am!"

Seriously, she was playing guitar and writing songs at the age of 14. She's been a singer with bands, but they were always bands that she put together.

"I have a vision and I just like to be able to see that out," she said. "I just like being in charge. I don't know why, but I think I'm a solo-artist kind of gal.

"I think being an artist is not a choice. It's who you are. And if it's a choice, then it's not what you should do. And it's not a choice for me. So it's what I'll do."

Her music has been labeled "indie-pop," and she's perfectly comfortable with that. She has recorded five EPs and an album, and won praise for her performance on NBC's "The Voice."

"The moment she starts singing, you remember her slinky voice and why all four judges turned around during her audition," was how a writer with Rolling Stone described hearing her.

On her records, she often plays with a full band. On this tour -- the "Brilliant, Broke, and Beautiful Tour" -- it's just her and her drummer, Kevin Grossman.

Mr. Walle, the driver, is a fellow solo artist who is opening for her.

"It's not that different," Ms. Sometimes said, comparing the studio version of the songs to those you might hear tonight. "It just depends which song you're listening to. It's just more acoustic-y, and sometimes I like that better. It allows me to have my banter. I can really connect with the audience or annoy the hell out of them."

She calls it "story time."

"I would hope that it adds to the song," she said. "But I've never actually asked an audience member, 'Does this do anything for you?' I guess it's kind of self-serving in that way. But, personally, I would like to know more about a song when I see an artist.

"I don't try to send a message out. I think I just am myself and that's who I am. I am as much deep and thoughtful as I am goofy and fun. And that comes out in my music."

So what can the audience at Garfield Artworks on Penn Avenue tonight expect?

"Oh, I'll play a mixture of all my albums," she said. "And I do some fun covers. I might do a little tap dancing. You never know."

It's hard to tell when she's kidding.

"No one ever can, my friend," she said. "No one ever can."

The "Brilliant, Broke, and Beautiful Tour" is Ms. Sometimes' ninth tour. She's been to Pittsburgh a few times.

"Every city is different and I like the characteristics of all different kinds of places. I like Pittsburgh," she said. "I think everyone responds differently. Some crowds are more quiet and some are rowdy. Indiana was respectful. Chicago was loud."

What will she find in Pittsburgh?

"I guess I'll find out today," she said.

Ms. Sometimes and Mr. Walle are joined on the bill tonight by Caroline Smith, Nameless in August, and Mike Calli. The show at 4931 Penn Ave. begins at 7 p.m. and there is a $10 cover.

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This story originally appeared in The Pittsburgh Press. To log in or subscribe, go to: http://press.post-gazette.com/ First Published October 8, 2013 12:34 PM


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