• Abigail Hall

Local band Spinster to plant new roots in Colorado, reimagines musical project with Annie Oakley

Full headline: Local band Spinster to plant new roots in Colorado, reimagines musical project with Annie Oakley members

Originally published by OU Daily, Sept. 15, 2019.

Spinster is packing its bags.

Jo Babb, the frontwoman of the indie-rock band, said after five years of performing in one group or another in the OKC metro area — it’s time for her to move on.

Babb plans to move to Fort Collins, Colorado, in November to re-imagine the musical project and continue to create music with her twin sister Sophia. 

The Babbs have been performing together since their early adolescent years when they formed Americana-folk band Annie Oakley with violinist Nia Personette in 2013. Starting in bars and coffee shops in Downtown Norman, the group rose to headlining Norman Music Fest and touring across the Midwest. 

While Jo has always loved creating music with her sister, in 2018 she found a freeing outlet in creating her own band, Spinster, when Sophia studied abroad in Germany for a semester. 

“It’s definitely been freeing musically,” Jo said. “There’s just songs I can’t play in Annie Oakley — it just doesn’t make sense.”

When Sophia returned to Oklahoma, the group continued to perform as Annie Oakley, but Jo didn’t give up on Spinster. 

In April, Jo performed with headliner Annie Oakley at Norman Music Fest, but she also played as Spinster on the Opolis outdoor stage, singing to a crowd comprised of her new-found following, Sophia and Personette cheering her on.

“Being on a stage where it’s all dependent on me — I wrote all the songs, I figured out all the parts for everyone else essentially — it’s scary, but it also made me realize I can do it,” Jo said. 

After graduating from Oklahoma City University last spring, Sophia moved to Fort Collins, Colorado, with her fiance, and Jo stayed behind to see Spinster through. 

In June, Spinster produced its first self-titled album, available on Spotify and Bandcamp, as well as performing shows around the Norman and Oklahoma City metro area, including Second Wind Coffee House’s fall festival in August.

While Spinster has been a fulfilling project, Jo said it’s time for a new adventure. 

With her bandmates in Spinster going on to other projects, she decided to join her sister in Fort Collins to rebuild the project and continue to build Annie Oakley’s buzz regionally. 

“I just kind of came to the realization that Oklahoma isn’t really serving me here,” Jo said. “Especially since Annie Oakley is ... kicking off right now. Regionally we’re starting to get a little buzz — and that’s something we should be pursuing. We can’t do it apart.”

While Personette is still pursuing her degree at OU, the trio is still touring around her schedule, with upcoming shows in Kansas, Missouri and Tulsa. 

“We’re touring as often as possible, even in little ways,” Jo said. “We’re not all about touring the country to places we’ve never been to strangers — and possibly no one — when we could build these relationships, even in these small towns.”

Jo will officially make the move to Fort Collins in November and plans to find new band members to restart Spinster with, but also hopes to integrate her Annie Oakley bandmates into the new project. 

“Sophie wants to play in Spinster with me, so I’m going to teach her the bass,” Jo said. “We love playing music together. We’re really good at it — better. I mean, yes we fight, but I haven’t found that musical relationship with anyone but Nia. So (if) we can get Annie Oakley to integrate (into Spinster), that would be perfect.”

Despite the genre difference between Annie Oakley and Spinster, Jo says the core foundations of the musical influences are central to both sounds. 

Whether in Spinster or Annie Oakley, “When I write a song, I’m trying to actually be meaningful,” Jo said. “I just want to write something that will last, (that) is beautiful in some way. I get that you can do that in any genre — but folk music is almost always about the words. I haven’t escaped that in indie-rock, or whatever Spinster has been.” 

While the sisters are moving on, they’ll always come back to Oklahoma, Jo said. 

The trio continues to perform in Oklahoma and will make an appearance at Norman Music Fest in 2020. 

As for Spinster, Jo plans to perform a few final shows in the metro area before heading to Fort Collins — one show on Oct. 27 in Norman at Legacy Park and a farewell show Nov. 9, location to be announced. 

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