By Elizabeth Wang
Fans of all ages crowded the aisles of new and used records to watch Star Anna give a free concert at Sonic Boom Records in Ballard on April 21, National Record Store Day.
Singing songs including one of the band’s hit singles, “Alone in This Together,” Star Anna silenced the audience in awe with her emotionally powered, raspy alto.
Star Anna, which is also the name of the band, consists of bassist Keith Ash, drummer Travis Yost, guitarist Justin Davis and lead vocalist/rhythm guitarist Star Anna, who was sporting her new short, blond haircut. Davis backed up Star Anna for most of the 40-minute set before Pearl Jam’s lead-guitarist Mike McCready joined them on stage to perform together a song he wrote, “The Devil Don’t Remember My Name.”
The members of Star Anna came together as a band six years ago. But with each year, Star Anna said the style of music they play has changed over time.
“I guess it has its roots in country, alt-country, twang,” she said. “It’s veered away from that. It’s still there, but I think it’s got a little bit more rock and roll…It’s really hard to explain; every record is different.”
Davis has been part of the band for five of the six years. Like Star Anna, he thinks the sound of the band hasn’t remained consistent.
“I think our style is a constant flow,” Davis said. “Like if we get sick of the way we record it, we do it totally different live. Just live it. Just do it whatever.”
Star Anna was born and raised in Ellensburg, Wash. She has come a long way since she first learned to play drums at the age of 11. At 16, she picked up the guitar, started writing songs and performed at local cafes.
Now 26, Anna has turned her musical talent into three recorded albums with a fourth one on the way, including a recently released darker, acoustic cover of Robyn’s upbeat pop song, “Call Your Girlfriend.”
“It just feels right,” she said. “Out of everything I’ve done and do in life, it’s the one thing I feel like I’m good at that just feels like I should be doing it.”
With musical influences like Cat Power, Patti Smith, and The Pretenders, Star Anna writes her songs about her experiences. Her lyrics reflect what she sees and what she lives.
“As silly as it sounds, it sort of helps me process things I’m going through or things I’ve gone through,” Star Anna said. “It helps me stay sane…-ish.”
Since starting the band, Star Anna has really grown close to her band-mates, saying they are almost like family.
“Or it’s like being married to three other people,” she said. “There are moments when we all want to kill each other, but I think we all love each other and are fighting for the same goal.”
While Star Anna has performed in many West coast cities from Portland down to Los Angeles, they hope to gain more national attention as the group tries to sweep across to achieve awareness in the East.
But for the time being, Star Anna is keeping busy with her day job at a doggy day-care center Downtown.
“That’s about it,” she said. “I play music and I play with dogs.”