Photography by Jeff Hunt
Discovering Meredith Edgar is one of my best memories of 2023.
In Part 1 of this episode, get to know this singer/songwriter who was born in San Francisco. Her parents had been here a while, but soon after giving birth to Meredith, the family moved around a bit, first to the South, then to the Northeast, and finally, back to the South Bay.
"Silicon Valley" was vastly different than the other places Meredith spent her early life in. When her family moved there, she was in third grade and happy to be in a more diverse place. She ended up spending her middle and high school years in the South Bay, eventually spending more and more time in The City.
Music was always an integral part of Meredith's life. As she puts it, her parents have "eclectic taste in music." She says that there was always music playing—at home, in the car. Her dad also played guitar.
Meredith started playing violin at 4. Later, she joined her junior high choir. And by the time high school rolled around, she had started playing guitar, writing songs, and playing out. "Out" at that time meant open mics at Red Rock Coffee in Mountain View, and Meredith shares the story of her first time doing that. She says that she's deeply grateful to have found music, fast-forwarding to tell the story of her dog's passing away in late September of this year and how playing helped her grieve.
Then we go back again to her late-teen years. Meredith was ready to not be in the suburbs anymore. She and her friends came to SF to go to shows or go dancing at spots like Pop Scene (330 Ritch) and 1984 (Cat Club). When she made the leap north to live in The City, she didn't play out right away. But the South Bay band she was still a part of fizzled out.
When she first got here, she was in a bad relationship that also eventually ended. After that, Meredith's music picked back up. She worked at Macy's in cosmetics and shares a fun sidebar about kittens and puppies up for adoption over the holidays at the department store.
Around 2007 or so, she picked up music yet again, writing, playing out, doing solo shows, playing originals and covers. She preferred to be solo because of her desire to be self-sufficient.
We end Part 1 with a chat about her siblings. Meredith's brother is six years younger than she is and is an artist here in The City. Her sister is a year older than her, but didn't grow up with the family. In fact, they didn't know about her until Meredith was 18. She says that they're good friends now.
We begin Part 2 with my asking the question everyone wants to know: Is "Meredith Edgar" her real name or a stage name? You'll have to listen in to find out.
Then she shares the various day jobs she's had over the years, some worse than others. She worked a little retail, then got an esthetician's license and worked in dermatology. Meredith says that she's always wanted to help people.
That work eventually drove her to go back to college, which she did at St. Edward's in Austin, where she earned a degree in psychology. While in Austin, she worked at the SIMS Foundation, a mental-health non-profit for musicians in the area. An internship there led to a job, one she describes as one of her favorites to this day.
Then, thanks to my propensity for chatter, we dive into a sidebar on Austin and whether folks in that city do a good job of taking care of their own. Meredith is quick and correct in pointing out that, like here, Austin artists and musicians often get priced out of a city that's always becoming more expensive to live in.
After that, Meredith tells us about her time in Italy for a stint, which inevitably leads to another sidebar, this time on Spain and Italy. And finally, after all that set up, I get to share my story of discovering Meredith.
Meredith was married, but then divorced. She had lived in Venice, but after Italy, she moved back to The City she was born in ... just before COVID hit. She managed to find a job and an apartment just in time, though.
When the pandemic did take hold, she started doing live streams on Instagram. She had really wanted to give her music a push, and like many musicians, took to streaming as a way to continue connecting with audiences. Once it was safe, Meredith started playing masked shows in outdoor places, something she says "really saved" her, both socially and creatively. She had been living alone and feeling that isolation that the pandemic exacerbated for so many of us.
Now she says that she's got herself to a good point. She's summoning patience and has managed to find community here. Meredith recorded an album at Women's Audio Mission in 2021 and hopes to record again this year. She says that among writing, rehearsing, recording, and playing out, the latter is her favorite.
We end Part 2 with Meredith's response to our theme this season: "We're all in it."
The songs you hear after our conversation ends are: "Louisiana Rain" and "Blue."
Catch Meredith at any of the following upcoming shows:
Jan. 11 at Rite Spot (I'll be there!)
Jan. 21 at Spec's
Jan. 25 again at Rite Spot
Follow Meredith Edgar on Instagram
We recorded this episode at Royal Cuckoo Organ Lounge in November 2023.