Jodeen Wink is a guitarist and a street musician. She has an MA in English from Winona State University and has taught at Rochester Community and Technical College and Riverland Community College. She plays at the Rochester Downtown Farmers Market and often on 3rd Street in downtown Rochester.
1. Why street music?
I started as a street musician over the summer to fund an amplifier and a microphone so that I can do house concerts. I want to feature myself, other poets, and other musicians. More than that, I play on the street so I can come and go as I like. I am unbound there, and I like that. I am like one of the wild animals around town. Like a raccoon or a crow, I am feral.
2. What sparked your interest in music?
My mom gave me a guitar when I was 9 years old and taught me three chords. I never stopped after that. Every time someone would come around and play music I would watch them like a hawk, figure out what they were doing, and then go to my bedroom and play it. I certainly paid my dues. All through my 20s and 30s I played out a lot. After graduating from college, it just dried up. I got busy and interested in other things. And now, music has returned. It’s like an angel to me, like a neglected friend.
3. Best show you’ve ever seen?
Gogol Bordello. I saw them in St. Paul. They put on a great show with a huge amount of energy and spirit. The people who turn out to see that band are always very colorful, so it’s fun to people watch.
4. What makes you stand out as a musician?
I play music from the 40s, even a song from Mae West. I like to play songs about taking a stand. Songs about loss. Timeless songs.
5. What is your musical philosophy?
Music runs our lives. We are a collection of molecules, and the only thing that holds us together is sound. And that sound is music.
6. Most memorable Rochester gig experience?
At the Rochester Downtown Farmers Market, there was this grandpa who was listening to me from afar. Then he pulled out his lawn chair, planted it right in front of me, sat down,
and kept listening.
7. If you could run sound for one artist no longer among the living, who would it be? Why?
Louis Armstrong. I would have loved to be alive in the 40s when swing music was happening. It just belts out the spirit of America. We had just come out of a terrible war, and music was keeping everybody alive.
8. Top two artists at the moment?
Bob Dylan. It’s like having my brother singing to me – or the guy next door. John Fahey. He is the soundtrack of my life. I listen to him, and then I start playing a little tune, and all of sudden I realize I am playing a John Fahey song. He’s running through my veins.
9. One book you think everyone should read?
“The World Without Us” by Alan Weisman. It’s an environmental book about what would happen if we disappeared. In answering that question, he confronts what we have done to the earth. People just cannot read this book and be same. People cannot unknow this book.
10. Strangest thing you’ve ever seen an audience member do?
I had a lady from Kansas who was so moved by my singing that she started belting out these Gospel songs. She had this huge voice, and it was impressive. I did want her to get her own corner, though.