Hulaween & Bear Creek Festival Artist Spotlight

Jennifer Hartswick

interview by Kaylee Zielinski


Hulaween Festival is taking place THIS WEEKEND October 31-November 2, at Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, Florida.  It is headlined each night by The String Cheese Incident.  Bear Creek Music Festival is taking place November 14-17, also at Suwannee, and is headlined by The Roots, Bootsy Collins and The Funk Unity Band, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, and more.  

Jennifer Hartswick will be at both festivals, contributing her vocals and trumpet skills as Artist at Large at Bear Creek, and headlining with Nick Cassarino at Hulaween.  As a rising star in live music, and familiar face at festivals, we couldn’t wait to ask her a few questions about her life and upcoming performances.  


1. You play trumpet like no other and have the voice of an angel. You are clearly gifted musically. Where did music start for you?

 I grew up in a musical family. My parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents are all musicians. So, genetically I never stood a chance to do something different.


2. You rocked the stage with so many talented musicians at Camp Barefoot. What was your favorite set that you sat in on?

 I really loved playing with The Motet. They are brilliant musicians, and some of the nicest human beings I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing.


 3. Who are some of your favorite artists to play alongside?

 Quite honestly, my favorite artists to play alongside are the members of my own band. That’s why I chose them! Nikki Glaspie, Nick Cassarino, Dezron Douglas and Rob Marscher are some of the baddest musicians out there.

I’ve been really blessed to play next to Trey for 15 years too. He’s definitely at the top of my list.


4. I know you listened to mostly classical and jazz growing up and stayed away from radio too. Had you heard of Phish before you met Trey? What is it like to work with Trey Anastasio?

 I grew up in Vermont, which is where Phish is from, so I definitely knew about them. All of my friends loved them.

Every moment I work with Trey is inspiring. He sees the world in a very unique and beautiful way.


 5. If you could be doing anything else career-wise what would you be doing?

If I wasn’t a musician I would most definitely be a chef.


 6. You are an inspiration to so many women out there, especially myself. You are proof that women can play with the big boys and sometimes even better! Do you have any words of advice or encouragement for getting involved in the music industry?

 I was lucky enough to grow up with parents who wholeheartedly believed that I could do anything at all.

I never knew it was different for a girl to play a brass instrument. I didn’t care. Everyone else seemed to care, but it really never phased me.

I’m a believer that we are all blessed with a gift. You have to take that gift and run with it, and understand that you may struggle sometimes, and you may leave others in the dust. Both are a little scary. But believing that you are a unique, beautiful soul on a mission is, in my opinion the only way to live.

And you may get to the finish line in a way that doesn’t jive with the way others have gotten to the finish line. Carving your own path makes the world a more beautiful place.


7. What bands are you really digging at the moment, whats on your ipod or in your cd player?

Honestly, I alternate between Snarky Puppy and Justin Timberlake.


8. Are you still teaching? If not, would you go back and what was the most rewarding thing about teaching?

I’m not teaching anymore. I’m lucky to spend 3 nights a month in my own bed, so it’s hard for me to keep a schedule.

I love teaching. I love kids. I love watching the light bulb go off when they understand something and feel proud of themselves.


9. Tell us a bit about Van Ghost?

Van Ghost began several years back when I moved to Chicago. It is led by Michael Berg, who is a singer-songwriter from the area. If I had to categorize it I would probably say it’s Americana Rock. Poignant lyrics, great grooves, great harmonies….

We’re excited to play Hulaween. We have the incredible Nick Cassarino playing the whole set with us, which always takes it to another planet.


10. What is something special that’s in store for Hulaween attendee’s?

If I told you I’d have to kill you….


11. What are you working on in the next year?

The Jennifer Hartswick Band will be doing some touring and recording. Van Ghost and Trey always keep me busy as well.