Bridget Kearney didn’t intend to keep playing bass. As a 10-year-old living in Iowa City, she selected the instrument so she could play in the orchestra.

“I was really anxious to play music,” she said. “I’m glad looking back that I picked the bass because one of the great things about it is it’s present in so many different kinds of music. ... You can play rock music, different types of world music, folk music. It really opened a lot of doors for me, as a bass player, being involved in different kinds of bands.”

Twenty-one years later, Kearney will return Aug. 22 to Iowa City to perform at the Englert Theatre with her band Lake Street Dive. The show is sold out.

“Lake Street Dive is unique in today’s world of popular/jazz music,” said Jerry Zinn, Kearney’s jazz band director when she attended Northwest Junior High School in Coralville, to Hoopla via email. “The original music which they compose and perform is not like anything else that I hear ... outstanding vocals, interesting lyrics, and above all — or below it all, is the ever-present rhythmic foundation of Bridget’s bass.”  Playing the downtown venue again — Kearney and company staged a sold-out performance there in 2014 — still is exciting for the 2003 West High School graduate.

“I have very fond memories of the Englert. That’s probably the first place I went to the movies growing up. I saw “The Little Mermaid there.” It’s fun to have that history with a venue,” Kearney said. “It’s a great-sounding room and really comfortable. I’m super stoked. Great staff, too. Everyone who works there is super nice.”

Zinn said her success is no surprise to those who know her.

“Even then she possessed skills far beyond her years,” he said. “She is certainly one of the best bass players I have heard because her sense of ‘time’ is so advanced.  Pretty much like a human metronome ... she never misses.”

Kearney “really took over the rhythm section with her impeccable sense of time and rhythm,” Zinn said of his former student’s time in Northwest’s jazz band.

Kearney, whose parents still live in the area, has affection for a few places in Iowa City — some of which she said are staples when she gets back there a few times each year.

“The Java House just defines my adolescence,” Kearney said. “Revival was not there when I was growing up but me and my sisters go there. I think Iowa City has one of the best vintage secondhand clothing scenes I’ve ever experienced.”

Lake Street Dive, which formed in Boston at the New England Conservatory, is touring in support of “Side Pony,” the album the band released earlier this year.

“The songs really come to life when we’ve been touring them for awhile,” Kearney said. “You get to know them super well and sometimes we’ll change the arrangements a little bit or at the very least focus in on what the dynamic of the songs should be and try to hit that together.”


WHAT: Lake Street Dive
WHERE: Englert Theatre, 221 E. Washington St., Iowa City
WHEN: 7 p.m., Monday, Aug. 22
COST: Show is sold out