Jacquie B was studying to become a queer theory professor until one fateful open mike in Alberta.
She got up on the stage for fun and sang a tune.
Then Jesse Dee took the stage.
“He was there because he was practising to be a touring musician,” said Jacquie.
A year later, Jacquie was no longer pursuing the life of a university professor.
Instead, she was on the road singing everything from folk and roots, to jazz, rock and balladry with Jesse.
“I got into it by accident,” she said. “And it’s changed the course of my life.”
Another chance meeting, this time at a music festival, saw Jacquie and Jesse team up with drummer Matt Blackie.
They’ve been playing as a trio for the last few years, but continued to call themselves Jacquie B and Jesse Dee.
But when they come north this month, that’s finally going to change.
“Over the past month, we’ve just decided to change our name because we’re no longer a duo,” said Jacquie from Alberta where the band was recently on tour.
Their new moniker: Picture the Ocean.
“We’ve kept it secret for over a month,” she said. “We needed a month to get used to it in our heads.”
To help avoid confusion, the new tour posters sport both names.
The group also plays with a bassist, but on the road, to cut costs, they just travel as a trio, with Jacquie holding down the bass parts on keyboard.
Jesse plays electric guitar and all three sing.
When they started off, Jesse and Jacquie played a lot of bars.
“And it’s hard to be emotional in a bar,” said Jacquie. The jazzy roots and folk didn’t always go over well.
But the band persisted.
“We’re still playing bars,” said Jacquie. “But now when we play original music, people appreciate it.”
The band spends most of the year on tour.
“We’re on the road more often than we’re not,” said Jacquie, who has a house with Jesse in B.C.‘s interior.
But this tour marks the band’s first visit to the Yukon and Alaska, thanks to yet another chance meeting.
Playing at a music festival in northern B.C., the trio ran into touring Yukon alt-country musician Gordie Tentrees.
“We were chatting and he said, ‘You guys got to come to the Yukon and Alaska,’” said Jacquie.
They decided to take him up on it before heading on to Europe and Australia later this year.
“We want to reach a larger audience,” said Jesse.
“Our goal is to achieve some form of success by our own definition, not necessarily rock stardom,” he said. “We’ve been writing songs and putting our heart on our sleeve for 10 years.
“That is what art is.”
Picture the Ocean is playing at the Gold Pan Saloon in Whitehorse on March 9 and 10.
On March 11 the band is at Bombay Peggy’s in Dawson City.
On the way back from Alaska, Picture the Ocean is playing a house concert in Haines Junction, March 20. The trio plays another Whitehorse show with Tentrees
and Sarah MacDougall at the Old Fire Hall on March 22.
On March 23, Picture the Ocean is playing The Bakery at Crag Lake with Tentrees.
And on March 24, the band’s playing a house concert in Mount Lorne, also with Tentrees.
Contact Genesee Keevil at firstname.lastname@example.org