TOWER OF POWERS Jess (center) and friends.
The second installment of Chanteuse arrives next weekend at Firehouse 13. The new bimonthly music series curated by Jess Powers (formerly of Route .44 fame) is designed to showcase an eclectic gathering of female artists who perform original material, as well as one cover of a selected classic female artist (Billie Holiday gets the nod for the upcoming show). Powers is an avid and active supporter of building relationships and networking with performers around the region, and her Chanteuse wish list of talented female artists and musicians continues to grow.
The next Chanteuse extravaganza features guest emcee and spoken word poet Michaelle Saintil, and an eclectic roster ranging from folk quartet the Sugar Honey Iced Tea to Tracy Garrity of the sibling rock duo VulGarrity. Tracy and brother/bandmate Shawn plan to perform cuts Tracy penned on their latest disc, Dance 2 the Grave.
"We'll play some of the darker numbers that talk about depression and confusion over an abusive relationship," Tracy told me earlier this week.
"And, going along with the theme of my set, my cover choice is 'No More' from Billie Holiday," she announced.
"Shawn and I totally revamped it, like somewhere between a Trent Reznor and Stabbing Westward tune."
We checked in with Ms. Powers just prior to deadline. She kindly responded to our queries off a dying cell phone battery while "waiting in the incessantly long lines at Disney World." Here's Jess, checking in from Norway at Epcot Center . . . .
HOW DID THE CHANTEUSE IDEA COME ABOUT? Chanteuse was initially just one show, an idea between me and [FH13 director] Lizzie Araujo, with female vocalists each performing one song out of Dinah Washington's repertoire. Lizzie suggested we call it Chanteuse. Once I put together the list of artists, I realized one show wasn't enough and the response from everyone I asked was overwhelmingly supportive and enthusiastic.
ARE THERE PLANS TO STEADILY CONTINUE THE SERIES? Yes. Chanteuse is booked for June 4 and I'll be promoting that at the April show. We're also scheduled for August and October and I'm working with a couple of people for a holiday show in December that I'm already eagerly anticipating.
WAS IT TRICKY TO GET SO MANY REGIONAL ARTISTS TO COMMIT TO A DATE? Surprisingly no! But then again I'm pretty organized and understand performer's schedules and the need to plan ahead. I booked April and June back in February and have nearly completed the lineup for the August and October shows.
WILL THE REMAINDER OF THE SERIES BE HELD AT FIREHOUSE 13? FH13 has been extremely open and honest in working to make these shows financially viable. It is a small space with a limited capacity and with so many performers it has been a challenge to figure out how to make sure everyone gets paid. But I won't ask anyone to play for free.
IS THERE A MASTER LIST OF FEMALE ARTISTS YOU'D LIKE TO EVENTUALLY INCLUDE? There's a wealth of talented musicians in the Greater Providence region and my list continues to grow. And I will always have one or two acts from outside the area to potentially offer local performers a chance to build relationships and offer gig exchanges.