Still not fully awake in her Seattle abode, Star Anna answers the phone as her dog barks in the background.
It’s 11 a.m. on a recent Friday. For Star, sleeping in late is apparently part of her rock-and-roll world, one that has taken the singer/guitarist from her sleepy hometown of Ellensburg to Seattle, where she’s befriended and received glowing feedback from folks like Mike McCready of Pearl Jam and country star Brandi Carlile.
NPR named her tune “Through the Winter” its song of the day two years back.Star has made a name for herself after trading in her drum kit for a guitar nine years ago as a 16-year-old in high school.
“I picked up my grandfather’s guitar, and the strings were so far off the fret and were so thick. They killed my fingers,” said Star, who will perform with her band, The Laughing Dogs, from 7-9 p.m. July 21 at the Kirkland Summer Concert Series at Marina Park.
She’s rocking a Guild acoustic and an Epiphone hollow body electric these days and recently released her third album, “Alone in This Together.” On Sept. 3-4, Star and her band will perform at the Pearl Jam 20 Destination Weekend at the Alpine Valley Music Theatre in East Troy, Wis.
“We put it all out there — we put our heart and soul into it. And when the audience goes with us, it sort of pulls everything together,” said Star, who is looking forward to the outdoor Kirkland gig because she can “wear sunglasses and look cooler.”
Star said the band plays rock and roll and proudly carries its Tom Petty influences. She noted that when recording the new album, they used Petty’s “Wildflowers” as a template (“We look to it as perfection,” she said of the 1994 hit album).
On “Alone in This Together,” Star added that the band opened up its sound and played from the gut in the studio: “I feel that every note is intentional. It’s got a live feel, a band feel — it’s not just, ‘I’m the lead singer.'”
The Laughing Dogs are: Justin Davis, lead guitar, backup vocals; Travis Yost, drums; Keith Ash, bass; and Ty Bailie, keys and organ.
Star’s voice has caught the attention of many music fans, including McCready, who contributed this quote on Star’s Web site: “She sings from a place of beauty that takes me to a higher place.”
Writing lyrics has been a cathartic experience for Star, who said she struggles with depressing and dark thoughts (like the end of the world in “Five Minutes to Midnight”) and “I get them out of me and put them into a song. It makes it easier for me to be a happy person.”
At age 25, Star is comfortable where she’s at in life, on stage, in the studio, performing with her bandmates and sharing her songs with listeners coming along for the ride.
“It’s been amazing every step of the way,” she said. “It feels good — it feels right.”