Debbie Neigher: Small Wonder

Debbie Neigher puts life, soul into her music: Aidin Vaziri | At just 5 feet tall, Debbie Neigher isn’t easy to spot in a busy Valencia Street coffee shop. I stand in line behind her for a good 10 minutes before I actually see her. But she makes up for her diminutive stature with her oversize ambition. The 24-year-old New Jersey native dropped everything two years ago and moved to San Francisco, having only briefly visited the city once before. After landing a full-time job working with at-risk youth as an art program counselor at Larkin Street Youth Services, she set aside two weeks to make her first album, a self-titled collection of songs that she unconditionally put her life and savings into. “I moved to San Francisco a few months after school,” she says. “I figured I already did something reckless, so why not take on something else that felt big and scary?” The gamble paid off. John Vanderslice, the acclaimed local singer-songwriter who has produced albums by Spoon and the Mountain Goats, asked Neigher if he could produce the record after giving her a tour of his all-analog Mission District studio, Tiny Telephone – a task he takes on as infrequently as a lunar eclipse occurs. “I was completely shocked and bewildered,” says Neigher, who plays a record-release show at Cafe Du Nord on Tuesday. “I’m still in shock.”

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