Lisa Gatewood: Recording Spontaneity

image courtesy of Lisa Gatewood

image courtesy of Lisa Gatewood

Words by Erin Wolf

Folk music oftentimes has the ideals of conventionalism attached to it — its simplistic, storytelling qualities and stripped down instrumentation paints its music with clean, broad strokes. How, then, does a self-dubbed folk singer make their songs stand out and sparkle? Local artist Lisa Gatewood knows that a natural sparkle lies in the ingenuity and spontaneity of the live performance. With that in mind, she’s taking to the stage at Linneman’s Riverwest Inn on Saturday to record her second album in a show setting. She explains it as this: “I have been working on these songs for a long time, some of them even before the first album…we [will] try to capture something quite elusive…the thing with a live album is that so much of it depends on the energy of the audience. And there is no sincerer energy that I can think of than that of friends.”

Lisa Gatewood, “The Black Coat Song”

Lisa Gatewood, “Better Than” [reprise]

What’s new for you since we’ve talked to you last?

Since releasing my first album I’ve Read Salinger in 2007, I’ve been mostly playing solo shows around town. In 2008 I played a show in Virginia on my infamous “One-Show Tour of the South”. In December of that year I was invited to play “Santa Baby” onstage at The Riverside for a Christmas show. I had a dressing-room and everything! Being backstage at The Riverside, riding down from my dressing room in that great old elevator which has been graced by so many amazing bands was a surreal experience.

Earlier this year I decided it was time to do another album. So here we are. Saturday night we set up at Linneman’s and see if we can make something amazing happen.

This particular show will be recorded, live, and it will be your next release: that’s pretty unique. Why did you choose to release a live album?

When I started thinking about doing a second album, I figured my process would be much like the first one. I’d round up several songs I’d been working on, ask some fellow musicians to join me and spend a lot of time in the studio tweaking our final product. Then I realized if I did that, I’d end up with an album exactly like my first one. I like my first album, but I don’t want to re-record it. Every album is a way to document where we are at that moment. There’s no need to re-document unless we’ve found ourselves somewhere new.

All of that is the long way of saying, “I wanted this one to be different from the last one”. I have also always loved the raw nature of live performances. I think it’s interesting for me to record something that I don’t have the luxury of going over and over until its “perfect”.  In a way, I think this recording will be more honest because of that.

You’re calling yourself “Lisa Gatewood & Her Borrowed Band”: I assume that’s because you have a few guest musicians this time around? Who are the members of your borrowed band?

My official ‘Borrowed Band’ is Erik Radloff on drums, Kurt Bauer on bass and myself on guitar and vocals. Erik Radloff, who appeared on my last album, has been playing drums and percussion professionally for over two decades. He has performed with dozens of bands including Recycled Future, The Tropics, Brazzaville and is currently working with The Stellanovas and Salt Creek. Aside from being a great drummer, he’s amazing to work with and shares my penchant for avocados and accurate punctuation.  Kurt Bauer, the owner of Brady Street Futons, joined me on bass at our CD release party back in 2007. He has played with Woodpecker, The Rockin’ Bones, The Peder Hedman Quartet and is currently with Party of Clowns and Tim Cook & The Riverwesterners. I’m lucky to have him. He has a great ear and always seems to know what will sound perfect.

I am most excited to be joined by our special guest for the evening, cellist Ravenna Helson. Just wait until you hear her. She’s amazing. Rehearsing with her has been both humbling and inspirational. She graduated from music programs both at Yale and Julliard and is currently the principal cellist for the Milwaukee Ballet. I am still in awe that she said ‘yes’ to performing with us. She’ll be joining me on just a couple tunes, but has given new life to those songs. I think I ended up with a good group.

What’s the next step after recording the conventional studio album and then the unconventional live album?

I’m not sure. I suppose I’ll just wait and see where this project leaves me. There’s so much that I want to do, like go on the road for awhile, marry Glen Hansard of The Frames and record a Monkees tribute album… I guess we’ll just see what comes down the pipe and hope it’s all good.

Lisa Gatewood will record her next album, live, at Linneman’s (1001 E. Locust) on Saturday, September 19th. Opening is Justin Rolbiecki of The Vega Star. 9:30 p.m 21+

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