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Sonoma Valley’s Jaleh to perform at BottleRock

A conversation with Springs songtress Lauren Bjelde, front person of the very popular Royal Jelly Jive (RJJ), is like a step into unexplored tropical waters full of brightly colored fish and buried treasure, with the occasional dark mysterious underwater cave to explore. The woman has a lot to say.

The telephone conversation was prompted by the news of Bjelde being included as a performer in the just announced BottleRock Napa Valley festival. She performs Sunday, May 29, just a few hours before megastars Pitbull and Pink take the stage. But don’t look for Royal Jelly Jive or Lauren Bjelde on the bill. It is time for the world to see “Jaleh.”

Jaleh is the performance name Bjelde has chosen for herself. It is the Persian word for “morning dew.” Bjelde adds, “Mostly, I love the sound of it, the French J buzzes, followed by melodic vowels. It feels like a mantra.”

Bjelde has been a busy woman all her adult life. She graduated from San Francisco State University, where she garnered two BA degrees. One is in anthropology, one in fine arts. Here is where it gets impressively complicated; the fine arts degree has an emphasis on “conceptional information art and metal fabrication and metal sculpture.” Her intellect not quite sated, she also earned a minor in Middle Eastern Islamic studies. She had begun the pursuit of a master’s degree in applied anthropology at San Jose State when, as she said, “my band started touring, so I quit that. I was going to be an underwater archaeologist, shipwreck reconnaissance work.”

Bjelde’s life is still a blur of activity. While the pandemic has slowed many people’s lives down to a syrupy crawl, hers has been quite the opposite. She and her musical and life partner, Royal Jelly Jive keyboardist Jesse Adams, were recently engaged to be married. They have been incredibly busy with creating new music, both for RJJ and Jaleh projects, but also for videos and film.

The film aspect of Bjelde’s experience is something that helped get her through the tough times caused by the COVID shutdown. Long a fan of costumes and styling, Bjelde has recently joined Local 44 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States. Colloquially known as the Art Department union, that membership has allowed her to work in the L.A. area on some big budget projects.

Bjelde proudly said, “I’ve been doing set dressing and property work for CBS.” This new stream of income, so lacking in the music world these days, has opened a door that Bjelde and Adams are very likely to step though. They are seriously eyeing a move to the Southland.

Adams has been firing on all cylinders writing music scores and screenplays. Bjelde has an overactive imagination and relishes the idea of using her academic training and passion in the movie biz.

This all points away from Sonoma, unfortunately. Bjelde said, “There are muses to mind elsewhere, and there is not so much going on around here. We are not being pushed to grow out of our comfort zone here, so we need to go get busy and keep making art and music.”

Before they pack up their guitars, keyboards, amps and makeup kit for a big move, Bjelde will don her “Jaleh” persona and play to a few thousand music lovers at BottleRock. Jaleh will perform her special brand of music, one she describes as “lovely and sweet, but it’s still badass and rockin,’ relentless and honest.”

Bjelde spoke of her collaboration with Adams regarding this new act. She said, “We have had the new kind of music just brewing…it’s mystic and it’s soulful, it’s a little bit rocking, and it’s feminine and it not afraid.” Looking to front a large performance group for her shows, Bjelde said, “I just wanted something bigger than me, because the message is bigger than me.”

Jaleh’s message is simple, “I’m just trying to put love into the world and bring people into the moment. I want to live in the positive.”

That message can be delivered on stages large and small. “Jaleh has no boundaries and belongs to the world, is a person of the world. I want to create a new universal role that I can step into. I want to bring the message into intimate spaces, and healing spaces, retreats and sacred meadows, and big festivals like Coachella and BottleRock. I want to rock out with 20 dancers onstage.”

Bjelde’s muse keeps her very busy and remarkably upbeat. The music Jaleh creates under her guidance will warm the souls of all who witness the show. Sonoma County will feel her loss, and we will always call Jaleh one of our own.

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