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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Blame Sally brings own brand of roots music to Schubas in Chicago next month




By ERIC SCHELKOPF

In 2000, four female singer-songwriters from San Francisco decided to get together to play.

They didn't have any goals other than to have fun playing together. But they came together to form a group, Blame Sally, www.blamesally.com, which continues to gain more listeners with the recent release of its sixth album, "Speeding Ticket and a Valentine."

The band, comprised of members Pam Delgado, Renee Harcourt, Jeri Jones and Monica Pasqual, will perform July 7 at Schubas, 3159 N. Southport Ave., Chicago.

Ellis also is on the bill. The show starts at 8 p.m., and tickets are $15, available at www.schubas.com.

I had the chance to talk to Delgado about the band's latest activities.


Q - I see that in April the band played two nights at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco. Of course, that venue has a lot of history. Sonny Rollins recorded there, along with the Grateful Dead. What was it like just being at such an iconic place?

Oh, my gosh. I can safely say that for all of us, it was probably the highlight gig of our career.

It is just amazing. There are ornate, wood carvings all over the place, and big chandeliers, and a lot of satin curtains.

It's just an amazing place anyway, and then add onto to it all the musical history. It had the most amazing energy I think we had ever felt.

Q - And did you play a lot off the new album?

We did. We did the whole album, and some favorites from previous recordings. Hopefully we can get back there again.

Q - This new album, "Speeding Ticket and a Valentine," is your sixth album. What kind of goals did you have for the album? Did you just kind of want to build on what you did in the past?

Yeah. For every album, we have the same goals, and that is to hopefully a bigger audience.

It is definitely getting a lot more airplay than we have had in the past. (The CD was recently #26 on The Americana Music Association charts). 


We just found out that it's been added to the Starbucks' play list. I just got a message from a friend who said he heard it sitting in a Starbucks in Cleveland.

Also, NPR called us, and they want to use the song, "Living Without You" as one of their songs of the day. These are all things that haven't happened before with a record. That's the goal, to reach bigger audiences and try to grow.

Q - I understand that you guys started singing in 2000, but it was just for fun, you didn't really think anything would come of it.

Yeah, that wasn't in any of our minds at the time. We had been playing music in different bands. We'd just been at it for years.

Monica, the keyboard player, was releasing a solo album, and she called us up and wanted us to sing backup harmonies. We did that show, and we had so much fun, that we decided to do another one.

Before we knew it, people were calling us for gigs. But we just continued to have the same philosophy, to just have fun with it.

Q - Is it just that the chemistry is right?

I think so. I think for some odd reason, we were in the right place together. We were all sort of on the same page of what we wanted to do.


We all knew each other through different projects. We have this sort of mutual love and respect for each other's musicality, and then we got to spend more time with each other and became friends.

It became sort of this circle of friends. There's just this chemistry that happens where you are just there and having fun and it's a happy, joyous kind of moment.

And that's kind of it. That's kind of what we are based on. We really like to support each other's music.

There's no front person in the band, which is really kind of unique. You don't see much of that any more. There's not a lot of ego about who's singing or who's doing this or that. We just really truly enjoy playing together.

Q - Have you played in other bands with guys? How is it different playing in a band with all women?

I've been in both scenarios, all girls and all guys, and being the only girl, and all that. I guess the main difference is that although we have some really strong opinions about the way things should be, we don't feel that any one of us has to have power.

And I'm not saying that is a male trait. In the guy bands I've been in, there's been a leader, a very clear leader, and it's always been a guy. He sort of takes the helm of things.

But in our band, things are a little more democratic. I have to say, things take longer. It works for us. I'm not saying it works for every band.

Q - Last year, you guys played in Germany. How was that?

It was incredible. They have a really big appreciation for American music over there, especially American roots music.

Q - Do you think that's why audiences over there like your music, because like you said, it's roots music, it's honest music.

Yeah, I do. Over there, I think that they just appreciate American music any way, not matter what it is, rock or heavy metal. They just love American music.

They are really interested in the fact that we are an all girl band. That was kind of a big deal.

And then again, like you said, the authenticity of the music. We're pretty real on stage, with each other and the audience. 

It's an intimate experience. We kind of talk about what is going on with us and each other. I think that's appealing.

Q - The group's music probably been labeled in many different ways - Americana, roots, alternative country, folk. How would you describe your music?

Well, there's something about all of those that fit us. We are all influenced by different people and different styles. We have a little bit of R&B, there's a little bit of soul, there's a little bit of blue-eyed soul, there's some classical, there's some world.

Honestly, it sort of can't be classified, which has been working for us and against us. But for this particular album, it falls a little more in the folk-rock category, folk-rock and a little Americana.

Maybe we're a little more rootsy. I don't know. It's hard to say. Believe me, we've had several meetings about this.

Q - Personally, I think it is good that you can't be pigeonholed. What do you think is the direction of the music business these days?

The music industry is so different now. Everything is so readily available. You can find anything you want.

It's up for grabs, really, where it's going to go. And I like that a lot. It's really good for us.
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