Anna Laube returns to Iowa City

BY NINA EARNEST | JULY 14, 2011 7:20 AM

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Anna Laube went into the 105.5 Project M songwriting competition as a virtual unknown in Madison’s music scene. But after she reached the finals, Wisconsin disc jockey Pat Gallagher said, everything changed.

“She turned out to be a really good performer, good personality as well,” Gallagher said. “And she’s fun to be around.”

Laube will perform 9 p.m. today at the Mill, 120 E. Burlington St. Admission is $6.

An Iowa City native, 31-year-old Laube said she was a “late bloomer” on the music industry. Though she had been playing music since she was 3, she only started to pursue her musical dreams once she moved away from the Midwest to San Francisco.

“I think it helped being so far from everyone I knew,” she said. “I was able to redefine myself.”

Her decision to live as a full-time musician brought her back to the Midwest, where she now makes her home in Madison.

The Project M contest, Gallagher said, highlighted her well-rounded work as a musician.

“To make it through, you have to stick out as an all-around performer. It’s more than just being a good singer, a good guitarist, a good songwriter,” Gallagher said. “You need to be able to do all those things and do them well.”

Her Midwest upbringing and current home provide inspiration for her work as a folk musician.

“I don’t think you can get around your surroundings,” Laube said. “And I don’t think you should try.”

Mark Whitcomb, who engineered Laube’s first two records, said working with folk music is only slightly different from other genres.

“Because she’s a folk artist, there’s a vibe to each song that has to let the story be told or has to have the feeling,” Whitcomb said.

And Whitcomb said he and Laube “struck it off at a cosmic level.”

At age 18, Whitcomb said he went to a football game at the University of Iowa. That night, he and his friends went to a concert featuring High and Lonesome — and the artist Dave Zollo.

Soon, Whitcomb learned Zollo gave music lessons to Laube when she still lived in Iowa City.

“When I met her, I just had good vibes in the same way I did from that show,” Whitcomb said.

Zollo said he is “very proud” of his one-time pupil.

“She was just a child, and I was just kind of a child, too,” Zollo said. “Some would say I still am.”
Yet Laube attributed Zollo with leading her to her future as a songwriter.

“He’s one of the first people who taught me about songwriting and told me, ‘You should write a song,’ ” Laube said.

And when she told Zollo she had left her job to pursue a music career, he said he was pleased to find she was talented and a hard worker.

“She knew what she wanted to do and went after it,” Zollo said. “I have nothing but admiration for that.”

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