After high school, Jewel came to San Diego to stay with her mom. After a brief sojourn to Colorado, she returned to San Diego, which she now calls home. She worked a variety of jobs including waitressing, but generally lost them when her interest in chatting with the customers surpassed her desire to do the actual job. Eventually she decided that working unfulfilling dead-end jobs was an unbearable way to live. She moved into her VW van, and with lots of peanut butter, carrot sticks, and a guitar, settled down to write songs. She soon started performing to sparse crowds at a coffeehouse in Pacific Beach called the Inner Change. (This was probably early 1993 by now.) Word started to spread, and soon she had a regular Thursday night spot and an ever growing audience. Her name began to show up in the local press and she nabbed a few choice opening spots. She took an extended trip back to Homer at the end of the year, and things really took off when she returned in early 1994.
At the start of the year, the coffeehouse was roughly 60% full, and a mere $3 got you a 3-4 hour set of original material, with the only exception being an occasional cover of Tracy Chapman's "Behind the Wall". Always a prolific, versatile songwriter, Jewel regularly debuted a handful of new songs at each show. These shows were a hotbed of local acoustic talent, and Jewel was regularly joined by frequent collaborator Steve Poltz (lead singer of the Rugburns). Fellow Rugburns Rob Driscoll and Gregory Page also joined them, as well as other local musicians including Joy Eden Harrison and Byron Nash. Everyone who saw her must have told five friends, since each week the crowd continued to grow. Soon, people were being turned away, while a few hardy souls could be seen staring through the large windows at the packed house inside.
Around this time, the news of the young (19!) singer had gotten to L.A., and record executives started driving down to sleepy San Diego to catch the shows. They immediately recognized the quality of what they were seeing, and soon the limos were directed towards Jewel's van/home. After a brief courtship, she was signed to Atlantic Records, and started making the trek up to L.A. looking for producers and musicians to record with. The advance on the record enabled Jewel to rent a house with her mother, a new car (a used Volvo) and a new guitar (a steal due to an imperfection in the finish).
All this added exposure continued to draw crowds to the Inner Change, which first added a second show, and then upped the admission price to $5. By this time, Jewel had written over a hundred songs. On July 28 and 29, 1994, a sound crew descended on the Inner Change to record 4 sets of Jewel on her home stomping grounds. All the live recordings on Pieces of You come from those two sessions. (Notably absent is a brilliant bongo accompanied version of Sometimes It Be That Way. Maybe someone can steal that tape from Atlantic's archives?)
By this time, Jewel had outgrown the tiny Inner Change and began looking for larger venues to play in. She ended up doing two shows at the Wikiup Cafe in Hillcrest. A whirlwind of activity followed in preperation for the release of Jewel's first album. This included a series of residency tours where she would play four different coffee shops in four different cities for four weeks, building up a fan base much like she did in San Diego.
Jewel's first album, Pieces of You, was released February 28, 1995. A CD Release Party was held at the Hahn Cosmopolitan Theater in her adopted hometown of San Diego. It consisted of two sold out performances. A review of the performance is available on Jewel's Unofficial Home page at: http://www.cs.mun.ca/~colins/jewel.html
System Requirements: A 2x CD-ROM drive and...
WWSYS is the usual album version. This was apparently released in early 1995 -- with the warning "Licensed for promotion only - sale is prohibited". The disc comes in a cardboard sleeve with an insert describing all of the artists on the disc.Here's what the liner notes say about Jewel:
Newcomer Jewel Kilcher's startling debut, "Pieces Of You", is full of shining contradictions. Innocent, yet full of knowing experience. Definitely one to watch.