Nov 02, 2010 04:46AM, Published by Style, Categories: In Print
Photo by Dante Fontana
A wise person once said, “A family that plays together stays together.”
Janel Drewis is a budding artist from a musical family who really does play together. They even have their own band. Drewis and her older siblings Dane and Deena, along with their parents Janet and Dale, are the five talented members of the Drewis Family Band. They are as comfortable playing together on a stage as they are in their own living room, and they do a lot of both. The family has grown and flown the nest, but they continue to stick together, supporting one another in their passion for writing, singing and performing.
Lately, Drewis has ventured out and found her own spotlight. This past summer, the striking young songstress was proud and excited to play her first real solo gig as the opening act for the Sun Kings at David Girard Vineyards. The scenic winery in the Sierra Foothills was an idyllic backdrop for the raven-haired vocalist, guitar and keyboard player. With a musical style that she describes as “laid back and a little folky,” she wowed the crowd and officially became a performing artist in her own right.
Playing her unique brand of music comes naturally for Drewis. She picked up the guitar at a young age and was always encouraged to spread her wings musically. Growing up in Folsom, her parents filled the house with music by the Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Ella Fitzgerald and Carole King. In addition to these influences, she declares herself a Bob Dylan fan – “I think his lyrics are some of the simplest and most beautiful ever written” – and listens to current artists such as Neko Case, Adele, Jason Mraz, and Kings of Leon.
With a childhood rich in music, Drewis also cherishes memories of family time around the dinner table. “My mom is a great cook. My dad would light a candle at the table and usually put Stan Getz or the Beatles on the stereo,” she recalls. “We would talk about music and eat delicious food and just have a good time. When my siblings and I had friends over they would always be amazed that we would sit down every night with music and candlelight and eat together. Apparently not many families do it anymore,” she says wistfully.
Now at age 19, Drewis is a student at UC Berkeley pursuing a major in art. She dreams of becoming an animator for Pixar, using her artistic talents to make the animated movies she has always loved to watch. After getting her art degree, she plans to enroll in an animation program in San Francisco. In the meantime, she will continue to spend her summers and school breaks working at the family’s busy Sacramento restaurant, Strings Pizzeria, where they all take turns serving tables, hosting and performing on Tuesday open mic nights.
“I know that I will always play music,” Drewis says confidently. “It’s such an important part of my life, and if the opportunity arises to play professionally – I would gladly take it. But I’m also okay just playing for myself. I definitely have other dreams too.”