Local Spotlight on Jared Feinman

Born and raised in the western suburbs of Philadelphia (hence the name of his independent label, West of Philly Records), singer, pianist and songsmith, Jared Feinman will be performing his original jazz infused songs – affectionately known as “murder ballads” — at The Locks in Manayunk on February 15th.

Jared will be joined onstage by the fast rising trumpet player, Arnetta Johnson (who’s played with everyone including Beyonce – and just so happens to be a friend of mine and an amazing human being) and by a small string group comprised of graduates of the Curtis Institute of Music.  And just this week, Jared released his latest track, “The Sinner’s Last Song.” Jared took time out of his busy rehearsal schedule to sit down with us ahead of his show this Saturday.

[ Photos by Clay Patrick McBride ]

[ Interview by Jen Strogatz ]


Independent Philly:

Jared, you dropped out of college where you were working towards a business degree to pursue music and studied at the world-renowned Berklee College of Music in Boston.  How did that experience impact and influence your songwriting?

Jared Feinman:

They called my name at graduation but I never showed up. I was given the option to walk at commencement and then finish my remaining credits later that fall. However, I was at a crossroads in my life. I had been failing classes the past few semesters due to my lack of interest in academia. I decided to cut my losses and move on. School was not for me. To be honest, after dropping out, or “withdrawing,” as they call it, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I somehow obtained a marketing internship for the summer in North Carolina. On a whim one weekend, with my $10/hour pay, I booked a flight to Boston to audition in-person at Berklee College of Music. I was not prepared by any means, but I was eager and drew upon what I learned from my years of experience as an accomplished classical and jazz pianist. Thankfully, I was later accepted that October and enrolled in January. This transition and attending Berklee carved a new path for me. It was at Berklee I started to write my first songs, taking lyric writing classes with acclaimed professor, Pat Pattison, who taught John Mayer

Independent Philly:

Having grown up in Philadelphia and as a current resident, how does the city influence you as an artist?

Jared Feinman:

I was born and raised outside of Philadelphia, and my entire family is from the Philadelphia-area. I had a great experience studying at Berklee in Boston, but I was excited to return home to my city. Philly once was the world’s mecca for soul music. Music is back in Philly; just take a look at what The Met, City Winery, and The Locks are doing to promote both national and local music.

Independent Philly:

You have a brand new song called “The Sinner’s Last Song” that was released this week.  Tell us about the inspiration behind the song and the line, “Now you found another lover who looks just like my brother…” Is this song drawn from a true to life experience?

Jared Feinman:

It’s a song pleading for atonement, almost a confessional if you will, of a past relationship ending poorly with a now ex-girlfriend. Our breakup coincided with my transition to Berklee College of Music, so I what I was feeling at the time naturally seeped into some of my songs. I wrote “The Sinner’s Last Song,” while at Berklee. The line, “Now you found another lover who looks just like my brother,” is truthful, so truthful it’s comical. You can laugh and cry about it at the same time. So I found a way to weave it into the song. Not every line is true, though. It would be hard to write in that vein. Frankly, it doesn’t need to be.

My background in early popular jazz influenced “The Sinner’s Last Song.” I was going for a recording that a tortured Frank Sinatra would sing on, and likely was listening to some of his lonelier, sadder albums at the time. We recorded with all live instruments and I arranged the horn section. The mixing engineer, 7x Grammy Winner Frank Filipetti, made the track warm and fuzzy sounding with a dry and intimate lead vocal. I wanted to create something reminiscent of the past, but still fresh and contemporary resonating at the end of the day.

Independent Philly:

How did you connect with Arnetta Johnson? Have you two performed together before?

Jared Feinman:

Arnetta and I went to Berklee College of Music together, although ironically we didn’t meet until after we left. Last fall, we performed together for the first time. It was great to reconnect and I enjoy performing alongside her. This is what’s special about Berklee; there’s a connection amongst the alumni.

Independent Philly:

You studied under the famous Philadelphia-based jazz pianist and composer, Jimmy Amadie. What was that experience like and how did it shape you as a musician?

Jared Feinman:

Jimmy was the toughest teacher I ever had. He had a few important sayings and teachings I cherish, one of which will stick with me forever: “play for yourself, first.” To me, this means to create music that feeds the muse first and foremost. I don’t write songs thinking about what people may want to hear. I write what moves me at a particular time in my life. This does not mean the audience does not play a role; they play a crucial role because without them I’d be working in a cubicle.

Independent Philly:

Your songs have been called “murder ballads.” What does that term mean to you and how does it apply to your music?

Jared Feinman:

To me, murder ballads are songs that are so emotional and vulnerable; they murder you to your core. My songs often tell a deep, personal story. This is what resonates with my audience. I want to communicate a story people can relate to or finding meaning in. My latest single, “The Sinner’s Last Song,” is certainly one of my murder ballads.

Independent Philly:

What can audiences expect from your show at The Locks on 2/15?

Jared Feinman:

The audience on Saturday night at The Locks will experience a unique and intimate performance of my original music. I arranged my songs to incorporate three of the top string players in the Philadelphia-area, in addition to Arnetta Johnson on trumpet and flugelhorn. If you want to be moved and hear something different, you want to be in Manayunk at The Locks on Saturday night at 7:30 pm (doors open at 6:30 pm and there are a limited number of tickets remaining). I am incredibly grateful to have an audience who is moved by my songs and willing to spend their evenings coming out to see me — I do not take this for granted.

Independent Philly:

What are some of your favorite rooms to play in Philadelphia? Which venue would be a dream to play in Philadelphia?

Jared Feinman:

I really like the sound and people at The Locks in Manayunk. I’m looking forward to playing the City Winery sometime this year and by the end of 2021, I will be playing at the Met and within the next 5-10 years, at venues all over the world.

Independent Philly:

What’s Next for Jared Feinman? 

Jared Feinman:

Once my show is over this Saturday night, I go back into my home studio to put the finishing touches on a very important and timely song, “(Let’s Sing For) Love and Be Free.” I wrote this song to be an anthem for my generation. For those who will be at the show Saturday night, they will get to hear what this song is all about. 

Don’t miss Jared Feinman at The Locks on February 15th.  Tickets are $20 for GA and $25 for cabaret seating — Tickets are available for purchase here

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