Jenn Grinels grew up in Northern California before landing at UC Irvine to study musical theater. After graduating she moved to San Diego and began appearing in local stage productions, which she still does from time to time. One of her most challenging roles was in reverse-drag, playing bearded rock musician Yitzhak in the musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch at the Cygnet Theatre. More recently she portrayed Janis Joplin in the '60s musical Beehive at the Theatre in Old Town.
Jenn tours and plays locally as a solo singer-songwriter. "Many of my songs are inspired by my boyfriend, Marine Captain David T. Russell, who was recently redeployed overseas. I write about the pain of separation and how difficult that can be. Before he left, quite a few of his coworkers and guys from his platoon came out to see me play."
While touring she often performs at functions organized by KVN, the Key Volunteer Network ("basically, the military wives' club"), and she's looking into a related charity in order to donate a portion of her CD sales ("probably Operation Homefront").
BIGGEST POLITICAL CONCERN?
"The war in Iraq. Nobody likes the idea of their loved one thousands of miles away facing the near certainty of violence...the fact that I don't agree with the reasons we entered into this war only makes it harder."
MOST DANGEROUS GIG?
"I broke my ankle playing a singing, dancing mermaid on the Disney Cruise Line. I was loading into a lift that was about to rise up through the stage. I jumped in -- wearing heels, because Disney mermaids wear heels -- broke my ankle, and everyone panicked. I think we were all having visions of the smoke clearing onstage and 500 children gasping at the sight of a floundering, writhing, screaming mermaid. But they pulled me out in time, and the show went on without a hitch."
"Working for a gynecologist we called Dr. McLucifer. In around two years he had gone through something like 60 employees in a five-person office. For the few months I lasted at the front desk he only referred to me as 'hey you.' One former patient even started a website for complaints against him called 'Sex, Lies, and Uterine Fibroids.' "
WHAT'S IN YOUR CD PLAYER?
1. Fiona Apple, When the Pawn... ("My favorite CD on the planet").
2. Gill Landry, The Ballad of Lawless Soirez ("My boyfriend is obsessed with this New Orleans--based singer-songwriter that we found on Yahoo music").
3. VHS or Beta, Bring On the Comets ("My best friend gave me the album to prep for their concert at the Casbah, and now I'm just reliving the night by listening to it").
1. Arrested Development: The Complete Series ("It's brilliant.")
2. Before Sunrise ("It would be nice to have all the time in the world to go back and listen to that dialogue again.")
3. What the Bleep Do We Know!? ("No matter how many times I've seen it, there's always something new to take from this film.")
MAC OR PC?
"Both. I do all my design work and music on the Mac, but the PC is better at stealing Internet from the neighbors."
LUNCH DATE OF YOUR DREAMS?
"A good booking agent. Preferably one who would pick up the check."
"E Street Café in Encinitas has fantastic coffee, free Internet for customers, excellent live music, and open-mike nights."
BEST LOCAL BREAKFAST?
"Honey's Bistro and Bakery [in Encinitas]. I love the lobster eggs Benedict and the orange-raspberry pancakes. And they have the best açai, granola, and fruit bowl anywhere."
MOST EMBARRASSING DRUNK STORY?
"I'm so boring, though there is a certain amount of alcohol that causes me to break into the national anthem. Once was under the Eiffel Tower. Well, in Paris, Las Vegas."
MOST OFFBEAT FAN?
" 'The Todd.' That's what he calls himself. He lives in Los Angeles, but many times he shows up at San Diego shows because he says he was 'already in the car anyway.' Once, at the Belly Up, he showed up in the front row wearing a T-shirt he had made. It had a picture of me screaming some high note and a caption that said, 'I am Jenn, hear me roar!' He made one for me, too. I wear it all the time."