It’s been nearly a decade since Mill Valley native Shana Morrison released her last album “Joyride” on her own Belfast Violet imprint, and she’s well aware how that must appear to music industry peers, even concerned fans. She hasn’t gone missing in action, she wants to reassure everyone. She’s playing San Francisco this week and debuting some adventurous new material she’s been writing.
From 2010 to 2014, she stayed busy with her famous father, Van Morrison, both opening an ongoing series of worldwide concerts for him, then joining him as backup singer every night. “It was a job for a real pro, and I had to work really hard at it,” she says.
Without considering the reasons, Van boosters take it for granted that he shows up in the Bay Area around the holidays, with shows at the Masonic and other venues that are starting to feel almost traditional. But his annual visit is to see his daughter.
“He’s always wanted to come overseas for visits, and he does work around that,” says his progeny, who first joined him onstage for his 1993 Rhythm and Soul Revue alongside hand-picked stars including Junior Wells, Jimmy Witherspoon and John Lee Hooker. But she adds, “Because my father doesn’t come to the U.S. nearly as much as the demand is, you know? And singing with him is like taking a big fast-track master class in performing, because he teaches by example.”
While Irish familial harmonies might sound simple — even when their styles slightly diverge, from Van’s signature blustery bellow to Shana’s more restrained Laurel Canyon lilt — Shana knew better than to ever attempt to compete.
Or, as she puts it, “There is only one Van.”
But she methodically mastered over 500 songs in his catalog, never knowing which ones he might draw from each night. She had to be ready for the most obscure catalog cut at a moment’s notice.
She also studied his jazzy improvisations, up close each evening. Her new theory? “The first instrument my dad played was a saxophone, and I think he actually sings like one, too.”
At 49, Morrison is more relaxed about that solo career. She refuses to underwrite more records; she’ll wait for a label that appreciates her vision.
Her day job as a Pilates teacher keeps her otherwise occupied, ane even more proud of her musical lineage. “Some of my students tell me, ‘I love taking classes from you.’ But it’s even more special to me now, knowing that you’re Van’s daughter! The guys at the office still don’t believe me!’”
IF YOU GO
Where: Chapel, 777 Valencia St., S.F.
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday
Tickets: $22 to $25