If your memory of the Calgary music scene goes back more than five years, you probably saw Jessie Robertson play, likely more than once. The blonde bassist was – along with singer-guitarist-didgeridoo prodigy Tristin Chanel Ward – at the core of key local bands Parker’s Lime and later Five Star Affair, playing hundreds of shows from 2003 to 2008.
Robertson, born and raised in Calgary, has fond memories of the local scene she left in 2008 to move west.
“I was 19 in 2003 when I joined Parker’s Lime, and it taught me a lot about playing live. I was so nervous to be on stage back then … it really forced me to loosen up and connect with my band – as well as getting me hooked on the energy of a receptive audience,” Robertson says. Parker’s Lime played “a ton of shows,” including opening for Metric, before disbanding.
Then came the ska-influenced Five Star Affair, which made plenty of waves over the next four years, including playing Vans Warped Tour and a couple of Juno Awards events as well as opening for Rancid and the Aquabats at Macewan Hall.
“We played over 300 shows. Calgary treated us really, really well.” Five Star Affair finally came to an end in 2008 when a couple of band members moved away, and Robertson decided to try her luck in Vancouver. It wasn’t long before her talents found her playing with Jen Foster and Rene Botha in what became Low Spin.
The band, whose sound has elements of dark electro-pop reminiscent of The Cure with a Metric-like edge, has toured extensively and is soon to release new music.
As a musician, Robertson has an impressive bond with the bass. Though she’s not tall and rangy like the stereotypical bassist, she makes playing look effortless, and fun, thanks to her strength, instinctive command of the fretboard and innate musicality. It’s a family thing, she says.
“My dad, Bob Robertson, is an amazing bass player. He really was my inaugural influence and my first teacher. Because he would write and practice at home, it became such a familiar sound and made me realize how important a good bass line is.
“That low end, creating the backbone and steady pulse with the drums…it really was my first love.”