Ansley Newman was just 17 when she and some friends made a startling discovery while attending the 2014 Vans Warped Tour stop in Atlanta.
“We went as fans,” said Newman, the 20-year-old singer in the Alabama pop-rock band Jule Vera.
“Then we were looking at the schedule, and there it was - we were listed to play that day, as the ‘local band,’ only our manager didn’t tell us!”
“We ended up not playing because our drummer was living in Nashville at the time, so he couldn’t come down,” Newman continued. “And, even if he could have, we couldn’t get all our gear there in time.”
Jule Vera’s missed opportunity comes as news to Kevin Lyman who created the Vans Warped Tour 24 years ago and has guided it ever since.
“I hadn’t heard that,” said Lyman, who has heard Jule Vera a good number of times.
The band made its debut on the coast-to-coast Warped tour in 2015 - when it also made its San Diego debut - and this year has graduated to one of the festival’s main stages. Lyman is forecasting big things for the one-woman, four-man group, which hails from the Alabama town of Opelika (population: 28,000).
“I think that the more and more comfortable Ansley gets on stage the closer she is to being on the threshold of becoming the next big female star that’s broken big on the tour,” Lyman said.
“We started just as a cover band, with a different name, when I was 13,” said Newman, who is engaged to Jule Vera guitarist Jake Roland.
“We did mainly classic-rock songs, like ‘Paradise City’ by Guns N’ Roses and ‘Black Horse and the Cherry Tree’ by KT Tunstall. When we started writing our own songs, we grew into a different band and changed our name.”
Jule Vera’s well-honed indie-pop sounds nothing like the various punk, ska and metal styles favored by most Warped acts, which is one reason the band stands out in the lineup.
Another is Newman, whose increasingly assured vocals belie the fact she is not yet 21.
The striking piano ballad “Scarlet Letter,” from the band’s 2015 debut album, “Friendly Enemies,” is a melancholic gem that many singers far more experienced would be happy to claim as their own. Ditto “Porch Swing,” a lilting, Jack Johnson-styled ditty from the group’s new album, “Waiting on the Sun.”
“I learned guitar by myself. Then I kind of picked up ukulele, which I also taught myself,” said Newman, who has been a vegetarian since she was 10. “I took a few voice lessons before our first Warped tour, to make sure I take care of myself on the road.”
In addition to performing, Newman and her band mates in Jule Vera also conduct two workshops at each Warped Tour stop: Finding Your Confidence Through Music; and Uke It Out, which concludes with each participant receiving a free Lanikai ukulele.
“One of the best parts of the tour is that everybody is super-supportive,” Newman noted. “Some people stick to themselves, but - in general - everyone is really nice.
“We didn’t know what to expect because, especially being on the main stage this year. Because the Warped tour has a certain dominant scene - punk-rock and hard-rock - but it’s been really good. It’s kind of funny seeing that our fans are also fans of other bands on the tour that sound nothing like us.”
Vans Warped Tour
When: 11 a.m. Saturday
Where: Qualcomm Stadium parking lot, 9449 Friars Road, Mission Valley
Tickets: $40-$50 (plus service charges)