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Lisa Mann: Well my name’s Lisa Mann. I’m originally from Charleston, West Virgina but I’ve been in the Portland area since I was a teenager. Lived in Seattle for a little while, but Portland’s my home. Here I am. West side.


Adam King: When did you first start playing music in Portland?


LM: Well, I started playing bass when I was 11 years old. That’s when I was still in Charleston, and walked home from school every day and saved my lunch money so I could buy my first bass from a pawn shop. When I moved out here and hooked up with some friends, and we started this band called Dead Conspiracy, and we rehearsed in Mark Murphy’s garage. It was this kind of cross-over thrash-metal/punk band, and we played four gigs at the Satyricon – I think I was 16 years old, and I was playing my 8-string bass. I had a 8-string bass at the time. I remember our first gig we opened for a skate-punk band from Sweden called Slam, and we got paid thirteen dollars, and we had to ask somebody for quarters so we could split the money four ways. So that was my first gig, but by the time I was 19 I just decided… I worked around here. I worked at a video store, and I delivered pizzas and stuff as a teenager. I worked for my dad – my stepdad, tiling floors. I worked at a Dairy Queen, and I was like, “I don’t really want to do this with my life.” So by the time I was 19 years old I started playing in Top-40, and that’s how I got my start. Just playing in bars. Playing what was on the radio – what was popular. Getting people to dance. Wearing high-heel shoes and playing five hours a night, five nights a week. I did that for many years.


AK: So have you not gone back to having a day job since then?


LM: Pretty much. Yeah, I have not had a real job since then. And I was young enough they had to make me sit in the kitchen because I was too young to be in the bar on the breaks. So I’d go up and play my set and then I’d go hang out with the dishwasher or something, or go hang out in the lobby. That was how until I turned 21. That’s how I got my start.


AK: What would you say your first impression of the Portland music scene was back then?


LM: Back then? Well it was tough because I was in the Top-40 scene, and there were… basically you had bands and agents. And agencies that would just put you in different spots. I moved to Seattle for a while – it was kind of the same thing. And you would just move from club to club to club, and sometimes, especially up in Seattle, we would do seven nights a week sometimes. We did like a 21-night run at one point. At the time, there was indie-rock going on down here. There was of course the grunge scene up in Seattle. But I really wasn’t a part of that. Like we were talking about before this, about how kinda fragmented things are. And it’s like we were the Top-40 musicians. But it was a cool scene though, because people had each other’s back. It’s like, “Hey man my drumhead’s busted. Can you come over here and bring me a head?” “Okay, sure – no problem man. I’ll run over on my break.”


AK: Do you feel like the music scene has stayed supportive in that fashion?


LM: Definitely. I think so. And I think it’s become easier with the advent of social media. You know, I’m in the blues scene and that’s definitely its own thing. You know, every scene has its’ characters, and people… “Oh I know that guy.” “Hey, you know this guy?” “Hey, I know that chick.” You know? But it’s actually gotten a lot easier with social media because we can just put out a call and say, “Ah man I got the flu. I need a bass player tomorrow night. Will you fill in for me?” …and that kind of thing. And if somebody’s down on their luck… That’s one thing that has always been there, is that if somebody gets sick, people have cancer treatment – that kind of stuff – there’s always gonna be somebody’s said, “Let’s put a benefit on.” There’s always gonna be a club-owner that’s like, “Yes, do it at my place. No problem. I’ll pitch in whatever.” So, very supportive.


AK: Have you seen the level of support in audiences change in the era of social media?


LM: I think in just in the era of online entertainment and at-home entertainment, it’s hard to get people to go out. And with blues especially, it’s an older demographic. So we’re starting to play gigs that are more like 7-10, 8-11 – get an early start because people, they get tired and want to go home! They don’t want to stay up all night and party anymore. So that’s one thing I’ve noticed. Playing earlier shows. Older demographic. So as far as the other scenes, I really can’t say. But for the most part it’s just harder to get people to leave their homes. Especially when the weather’s bad. It used to be people didn’t care. They’d come out anyway. But now, it’s “Oh, it’s raining. It’s snowing.” So? Get in your car. C’mon, let’s go.


AK: Do you feel like the demographic, at least age-wise was the same when you were first getting into it or have you seen it age?


LM: Well I’ve seen us all age man. A lot of it is the same people. ‘Cuz I moved back down here… I lived in Seattle during the 90’s and played in Top-40 rock bands. It was kind of interesting because I fell right into the blues scene. And since I had a background… my early background was with like British rock. Like Deep Purple, and Led Zeppelin, and stuff like Cream. So I fell right in: “Oh okay. This feels like coming home.” So I fell in with this blues scene, with Sonny Hess, and Linda Hornbuckle, and Paul deLay and people like that. So a lot of it, like I said, is literally the same people, and we’ve all gotten older. We’ve all had a few more benefits for each other. We’re all getting sicker. But there’s people like Ben Rice – young man. He’s under 30 years of age and he’s playing realblues, and he’s been nominated for three Blues Music Awards. So we’re hoping we’ll see this new generation. Also there’s the blues dancers. There’s this whole blues dance crowd and they love to dance to this music, and these are all college-age, younger people. And so we’re hoping there will be another generation to replace us, ‘cuz there’s gonna be a point where we’re just gonna hang it up. [laughs] Our bodies are gonna hang it up. 


AK: Can you think about, in any sense, things that have really tangibly changed about the blues scene in the past 20 years? 30 years?


LM: I don’t know. I can’t say it’s underappreciated any more than it was back then. But I think it’s… well, it’s just underappreciated. By even city officials. And I think there used to be more of a support for music in general back in the Mayor’s Ball days. And there was more a support for blues, and more of a pride in blues that wasn’t just the July 4thweekend. You know what I mean? ‘Cuz I remember, even in the 80’s, when I was too young to go out and I was living as a teenager here, and I would listen to KGON and they would announce the gigs that were going on, and they’d say, “Curtis Salgado is playing Key Largo, and Margo Tufo is playing over here, and Robbie Laws is playing here.” And you know, these were all blues act and the town was really happening. And so it’s a shame… And then the Mayor’s Ball had a lot of blues acts involved. So I just wish there was more appreciation because… my husband’s from New York and we went to the Bitter End, and there’s a jam there. This was a few years back. And it’s run by a sax player who used to work for Billy Joel. When we started talking to people, and I said, “Well, I’m a blues musician from Portland,” this blues guitar player came up to me and he’s like, “Oh my god, you’re from Portland. Oh, I gotta play with you. Portland is legendary! Let me tell ya.” So everywhere I go. New Orleans, go sit in and jam… “I’m from Portland.” They go, “Oh yeah. Sit in. Absolutely.”


AK: Do you feel like the city, government-wise, is offering less support in some ways?


LM: I think less support for music in general. And one of the things… the issues that have come up now is the seismic-upgrade issue with the brick buildings, and making people post a sign that say, “This people may not be safe in an earthquake.”Well you could say that about every brick building up and down the west coast. And what is that gonna do to some of these venues? So, it’s just short-sidedness. I don’t know. We claim to be kind of a hip city, but I don’t know…


AK: What about the community in general? Do you feel like there’s been a different… so people outside of the blues scene and the music scene, do you feel like there’s a sense of the “new” Portland not being as supportive of…


LM: Well yeah. Well I just think it’s kinda like if you’re not an indie-band, or… And there’s a lot of us who are blues artists who are writing our own original material. We’re not just playing old Muddy Waters tunes. But there’s also nothing wrong with people who play old Muddy Waters tunes. I don’t know. There’s just a sense that we’re fuddy-duddies or something. I don’t know. Because it is an older demographic. Or that we’re trying to keep something alive that’s doomed. You know? But I just think blues… it’s our national treasure. It was our gift to the world and it’s what spawned rock and roll. So I think it’s important to keep that music alive, no matter what people think about it on the outside. 


AK: So do you feel that you personally bear some responsibility in keeping the blues scene alive in this area?


LM: It’s tough to say that about me, especially now. 


AK: Why?


LM: Because I’m making a full-length, traditional, heavy-metal CD right now. And I’m probably gonna produce an Americana CD. So I don’t know if I’m necessarily the person that will do that, but there are people like Curtis Salgado, like Ben Rice, that is playing… He’s playing a very traditional style of blues. Like Mary Flower who plays Piedmont style guitar. These are very traditional styles of music. But for people like me – I think it’s important… For me, the blues I produce is more contemporary, so it has more rock influence and pop influence and country, and it’s more of a mishmash of everything. It’s important that we root ourselves in that original style of music, and that we understand that. Because if we don’t, everybody… I hear Joe Bonamassa is a great guy, so I don’t want to trash the guy personally. But blues didn’t start with Stevie Ray Vaughn, okay? And there’s a lot of this new style of blues that’s just really loud rock and roll guitar, and they call it blues. And it’s like, no, hey guys, can we reel it back a little bit. Maybe listen to some Johnny Guitar Watson or something? Let’s reel it back and listen to the traditional stuff even if that’s not what you’re gonna play. So it just has to be somebody doing that. I notice you’re wearing a shirt from the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and those are the people who’ve been playing this music the whole time, and they’re keeping it alive. Somebody’s gotta do that. Whether it’s me or not? You know, somebody’ gotta do it, and we gotta support the people who do. ‘Cuz it’s great!


AK: Do you feel there’s more that you could be doing to support it in that way?


LM: Well, I think I could be a consumer like anybody else, and support other blues artists. And I could talk about. I could talk about how important it is. I can remind people. Even people who are heavy metal fans. And remind people, if you listen to this old Black Sabbath stuff, where do think they got that grease? That’s from American blues. Early Beatles? They played American blues and early rock and roll. So it’s just a matter of reminding people where their roots came from.


AK: So when you think of “the blues” in general, is it more of an attitude than a musical style that you think of? Or is it a little bit of both?

LM: I don’t know, it’s definitely both. But I think it’s a language in a way. There’s a lot of blues jams all over the world, and a blues musician that knows that language can go to any one of these jams and just say, “We’re gonna do a rumba in G with a quick 4 – long one on the verses.” “A 2-5 turnaround!” Or whatever that might be. Or say Jimmy Reed style, or B.B. King style, and boom – the band starts playing a coherent song. That is if everybody understands that language. There’s a lot of people who thinkthey understand. They think that if they can pick up a guitar and go, “Denk-da-denk-da-denk-da-denk” and play 1-4-5, they think “Oh yeah, that’s blues.” It’s like, no there’s so much more to it. And it’s sosubtle. And it’s so much like an old worn-out pair of shoes that you just have to keep wearing those shoes. You just have to keep wax on and wax off. You gotta keep at it – keep at it. And all those subtleties will come out. So yeah, to me it’s a language. 

AK: Do you think there’s a Portland, or even maybe Pacific Northwest in general, a specific blues vibe to this area that’s different from other parts?


LM: Yes. Absolutely. It’s kind of like the medium tempo shuffle. That’s kind of it. The medium tempo shuffle and somebody at the end of the song yells, “Cha cha cha!” You know you’re in Portland. So yeah, there’s definitely a Portland blues feel. And you go to different places… like Boston, it’s more like “Let’s play a snappy numbah’ – c’mon let’s go.” It’s just more fast-paced, so yeah, it’s interesting. Florida, it’s more “Bluesion” it seems like in South Florida. You find more Bluesion players in Boca.


AK: Outside of… you know, encompassing the blues scene and other things, do you think there’s a Portland vibe in terms of music?


LM: I don’t know. I guess there’s like a Portlandia vibe. Like I went to a metal show and they had a local opening band, right? And so while the other bands that were on tour, they had that typical look about ‘em. You know the long hair, and the black shirts, and the big boots or whatever. And these guys were wearing like flannel shirts, and they were kinda chubby, and they had big beards, and they had put… they had bought these Halloween decorations with these evil looking dog skeletons and put them all over the front of the stage, and they just had a sense of humor about them, you know? And I was kinda like, “I bet these guys are local.” There’s something that I guess is irreverent in a way, but there’s also kind of like, oh these guys drink PBR at the local club. The beardy guys?


AK: What about with audiences? Can you tell? Is there a different vibe with Portland audiences than there are with other places? 


LM: They’re definitely more easy-going in a way. And a little more interactive I suppose. Like I’ve played in England. And playing in England is kind of like, “Are they enjoying this?” ‘Cuz they’re not really reacting, and then afterward they’ll come up, “That was just brilliant. We just enjoyed that so much.And you’re like, “Okay good! ‘Cuz you were just standing there and kind of smiling!”


AK: So do you think if you were blindly spun around the world, didn’t know where you were, walked out onto a stage that you didn’t know where you were, and let’s just assume there wasn’t gonna be anybody in the crowd that you knew, do you think you’d be able to tell that you were on a Portland stage?


LM: Oh absolutely. Yeah, I think so.


AK: Just because of the look?


LM: It’s the look, man. Yeah, the trucker hat, beardy guy, flannel shirt… [laughs] …what they’re drinking, and the camaraderie, and kind of loosie-goosy-ness, the rugged Northwestern thing… There’s just something about it.  Sadly, a lot of that first season Portlandia stuff was pretty right on the money.


AK: Are there aspects of music scenes from other places that you’ve experienced that you wish Portland would take on? Or that you’re glad Portland doesn’t take on?


LM: Well I have seen a phenomenon where there’ll be several bands on a bill, and the fans for each band will come and they’ll watch that band, and then they’ll leave. And then they won’t stay for the other bands. So, we were talking earlier, and you were talking about in Vermont that’s not the way it is. People support each other and you support the other bands. So I wish there was a little more of that. Like I said, I don’t go to a whole lot of those types of shows, but I’ve heard people complain about that. Because a lot of these double-bill, triple-bill kind of shows, you want to reach out to new audiences. That’s why we do shows. That’s why I do collaborations with other artists. Because I want to reach out. Like I do this show with Bre Gregg and Mary Kadderly. Mary Kadderly has a jazz following, and Bre Gregg has like a singer-songwriter kind of following. And so we get to cross-pollinate that way. And if everybody is just like, “I’m gonna support my friend’s band and go home,” you can’t cross-pollinate anymore.


AK: But you think there used to be more acceptance of cross-pollination? People used to be more into it? Or has it always been that way?

LM: I don’t know man. I don’t know. It’s hard to say. It’s hard for me to say because I’ve been kind of in one scene, but it is clicky. It’s clicky. Definitely, there’s not as much cross-pollination as you would expect in a smaller town. Because Portland’s not that big a town. It’s more like, “I’m a this kind of artist, and I’m a thatkind of artist, and I’m a this kind of artist.”


AK: So do you think there’s a conflict between the desire for music in general to progress beyond isolated genres, and the desire to keep the tradition of blues alive?


LM: Well the thing is, when somebody does innovate, it excites people. And it’s like Fantastic Negrito winning Grammys. And there’s some blues purists who would frown on it, but it’s like when The White Stripes first came around. Or… gosh, I’m trying to think of this other… it’s not coming to me. This other new blues…


AK: Black Keys?


LM: Black Keys! When they first came around… I first saw Black Keys on Saturday Night Live, and I see these indie-pop-looking young men going up there… you know with their tight t-shirts or whatever, and I’m thinking in my head I’m gonna hear something and they start playing I go, “Wait a minute. They’re playing blues and I don’t think the people in the audience know that!” I don’t even think they know it. So when people do innovate, I think it excites people. I think they get interested in that. It’s something new. So I wish there was more of it, but in order to have that you do have to have those who keep those traditional styles alive. Whatever it happens to be. Whether it’s heavy metal. In heavy metal, we’re seeing this trend towards everything is just agro, agro, agro, and it’s not a song. Back in the day, you know like Ronnie Dio, and Iron Maiden, and Judas Priest, they would write songsthat had quiet parts and loud parts and all this stuff. Let’s not forget somebody has to keep doing that so that the newer bands have something to draw from. Otherwise, it’s just… what is it? What are we listening to anymore if there’s nobody playing traditional styles of blues or jazz, then what the hell are we listening to anymore? We have no point of reference. There’s no ingredients anymore. You know I just had this latte. If it was a mocha, it has coffee, chocolate, milk – each one of those things has to exist in its own right, or you can’t have a good latte, or a good mocha. And this is the place to have a good mocha!


AK: Do you think, since you’ve been playing music in the Portland area, do you think it’s become easier or harder for just general Portland musicians to survive in this area?


LM: It’s definitely harder. It’s definitely harder because we’re still making the same hundred-dollar bill. I made a hundred dollars a gig fifteen, twenty years ago, and it’s still pretty much that’s what it is for club dates. We make more for festivals. Maybe at casinos or something we’ll make a little bit more. Or private events – we call it hazard pay. Because you never know when the drunken mother-in-law is gonna come spitting in your face and requesting a song you don’t know. So yeah, it’s become harder because it hasn’t gotten better. And what I find interesting too is that in the UK, because I’ve done some touring in the UK, it’s a similar scenario. There’s not a lot of great paying gigs. And not to get political, but we do make money sometimes here from municipal gigs, parks gigs, but those are few and far between. And in Europe, there’s a lot more municipal and state support of music. And there’s tax money being spent on live music events to keep their communities lively. To keep their neighborhoods lively. To keep people… to put their bodies on the streets and shopping at the stores and keep the economy going. And so there’s all this, “Oh, socialism is bad” and all this stuff, but it’s like well you can say that, but have you been to Europe dude? Have you seen what it’s like when you go to one of these fairs, one of these events that’s sponsored by the government, tax-payer money? And it is really happening, and it makes for a vibrant community. And you see arts all over the street. Even statues and public squares and stuff like that. I just wish there was more public spending on the arts. I mean we’re spending it on bombs, we might as well spend it on the arts too maybe!


AK: What about for you personally? Has it become easier or harder to survive?


LM: In a way it’s become easier because I’ve learned how to navigate a little more and I’ve expanded my income sources a bit more. And I get a little bit more mailbox money. I sell CDs online. I get some ASCAP and Sound Exchange money, so it’s become a little easier that way, but it’s still not easy. I still qualify for OHP man.


AK: You’re still making money off of CDs though? Physical CDs?


LM: I am, and that’s one thing that I think is cool about the blues scene and the rock scene. People like merch. They like to have something in their hands, and if you have something that looks cool, has cool artwork on it, and they want to get your signature on that CD, and have something they can touch, and people are getting more into records now. Record albums. I hear if you go to Europe these days, you better bring some records because people are really into records, and you’ll sell them. You know, it’s still there, in the blues.


AK: Do you print things on vinyl?


LM: I have not yet. I have not yet.


AK: Contemplating it?


LM: I am contemplating it. Absolutely. It’s more of a canvas. I mean you can put some cool artwork on there. That’s how I used to shop for records. I’d flip through and go, “Wow that’s a cool painting man. I should check this band out.”


AK: Do you have a clear line in your head of where your artistic integrity and potential paycheck diverge?


LM: Ahhh – that sellout line? 


AK: Yeah.


LM: I don’t knoooowwwww man. I don’t know. Every now and then we’ll do a private event, and they’re gonna want you to play… and I let ‘em know. Look, we’re gonna play some more soul. We’re not gonna play new stuff. We’re not gonna play Lady Gaga and stuff like that. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. If we’re gonna play dance music, we’re gonna play some Aretha Franklin, and Stevie Wonder, and stuff like that. But I wouldn’t want to do that all the time. I don’t think I’d want to do that all the time, because you just kind of become a human jukebox. You know it’s funny because I was just having a conversation with our guitar player, Jason, about… We just played a festival called the Clam Bake – the South Coast Clam Bake, and it’s a dance festival. And they rent out this hotel and they have music going all day long for like three, four days in a row. And there’s a rockabilly band, and it’s definitely an older generation that comes to this event. There’s a rockabilly band, there’s a big band with swing… big band, there’s a western swing band – all got cowboy hats. We’re the resident blues band… and they got a jazz crooner. And to me that’s different than being in the lounge at a Las Vegas casino playing Bon Jovi tunes. There’s something different about that because there is a preservation of something going on. It’s not just, “let’s entertain people while they drink.” Because, like that western swing band that we saw, they were playing the old Bob Wills stuff, and the jazz band was playing classic tunes, and there was a band, they had a clarinet player and they were playing like Bix Beiderbecke tunes. It was really cool. It was really cool to see. And that I could see. Because to me that’s not selling out. That has a purpose. You’re preserving something that’s important rather than just blindly entertaining drunks. 


AK: How much do you think your music career now is dependent on being in the Portland area? Do you think you could be surviving the way you are now somewhere else?


LM: I know so. Absolutely. I know so. Because I’ve been doing this long enough and I’ve got enough skills. Or like my husband’s Mom is aging and she lives in south Florida. I know if I had to pick up and move to south Florida and put together a new band there? Yeah, I could do that. It’s hard breaking into a new scene because usually the clubs, the club scene, they have their own rotation, and sometimes there’s people like who’s this new person muscling in on my gigs. But for the most part, people are supportive of each other and artists are supportive of each other. 


AK: Do you think the blues scene in general maybe is an easier thing to do that way?


LM: I think so because it’s like a big family. And there’s people… I call ‘em blues boosters, and they’re all over the place. Like we’re going to Des Moines – we’re doing a tour and there’s a guy from the Central Iowa Blues Society. He’s putting together a show for us. And he and his wife – they’re putting us up in their house. There are people who will put you up in their house. They will feed you dinner. You know? There’s our buddy Ernie Prendez down in California, he says, “Come to Casa Prendez man. Come stay with us.” All over the country there’s people like that. And we get to know each other from, you know like I’ve been to the Blues Music Awards in Memphis, and we get to know each other at some of these big events. And a lot of times if I have… like I said, social media makes it easier. Just say, “Hey man, we’re coming through Kansas City. We need some help. Help us out.” 


AK: Are there venues that aren’t around anymore that you miss?

LM: Oh man Jimmy Mak’s. We miss Jimmy Mak’s. And the Candlelight, even though they call it the Scandlelight. Sometimes there were scandalous activities going on down there. But it was just a great meeting place. It’s where I met everybody, and everybody else says, “Oh, I met everybody there.” Duff’s Garage was like that too. The one that was over, I think it was 7th– that was the garage, actually had the garage. That place was… everybody met… that’s where I met my husband. So it’s a shame… to see them go.


AK: Do you feel like there’s enough venues for you to play right now?


LM: No. No. I don’t think there are. I mean I’m in rotation enough, and I’m working enough. And I try to get out of town more often. For a while I was taking care of my mom, and she passed away some years ago, so it became a little easier for me to tour. And I have little toe-holds in the Boston area, Florida, in the UK, California sometimes. I gotta get back to California. But I don’t tour all the time. I don’t necessarily want to tour all the time. So yeah, we need more venues. And the only way to get more venues is to get more people to leave their house and go to the venues.


AK: So how optimistic are you about the continued survival of the kind of scene you’re in around here with those places disappearing?


LM: I don’t know. You know we’ve all spoken doom and gloom before, and new venues do crop up. So I don’t know. We’ll see. I like to say I’m delusionally optimistic. 


AK: I think a lot of people feel that way, actually! Are there new places that have popped up that you like? That you can think of?


LM: The casino up in, what is it, Ridgefield? Ilani?


AK: Yeah.


LM: They’ve been employing some people. Even though it’s a casino… you know, we play the Line and Lure Lounge as a duo… they’re pretty chill. They’re not like, “Take your 14 minute and 59 second break!” It’s not like it used to be. They’re just a little more relaxed than things used to be. So that’s kind of a fun place to play. I don’t know. Let me think about. Well, and then O’Conners went under, but then it kind of came back. And even though it’s under new management, and it’s a new restaurant now. So now they call it No’Conners. So it came back. There’s the Jack London. I know there’s a lot of kind of jazz-oriented artists that are playing the Jack London. I have yet to play there, but I see LaRhonda Steele plays there a bit. And they seem to dig it. I’m kind of in rotation at some of my old stand-bys. 


AK: Do you still have musicians, be it older or younger, in Portland who inspire you still?


LM: Oh absolutely. Absolutely. Gosh, well like I said, LaRhonda Steele. She’s just an amazing singer, and an amazing human being. And my buddy Sonny Hess – they’re both cancer survivors. And I remember my buddy Sonny – we played at the Trails End Saloon in Oregon City for years doing this women’s music review on Thursday nights. And when she was going through chemotherapy, she would sit up on a stool with her bald head, and just frail. And she could barely move, but she would play her guitar until she couldn’t. And then maybe her brother or somebody else would take over for her. So she just so inspires me. And of course the people like young Ben Rice. I remember him when he was a teenager. And just watching him get better, and better, and so much better we almost hate that guy – “How could? Oh! He’s just so good!” So like people who’ve been around for a long time, and these new young ones that are coming up, it is inspiring. 


AK: Do you still have the same gusto for the game that you did when you were younger?


LM: I think I have more so than I did, because I think I understand It better. You know what I mean? Because before… I hate to think that I wasted a lot of years playing in Top 40 bars, and just showing up with my gear and playing cover songs. But, that’s how I cut my teeth musically. Because I played every kind of style. And I’ve been in every kind of band. I was in a reggae band for five minutes, and I was in an Irish band. I’ve been in heavy metal band. I’ve been in a country band for a while. So having learned all those different styles and absorbed all those, have helped me musically but… I wax and wane. I wax and wane. Because a lot of the business… there’s a lot more hunching over the computer than there is playing and singing. A lot more of that, and so I wax and wane. Sometimes I’m “Yeah we’re booking a tour. Okay, let’s go!” And sometimes I’m all, “Ahh, I don’t want to do this today.”


AK: How long you gonna do this for? Until you’re in the ground?


LM: Well until the wheels come off man. Until the wheels come off… What, get a real job? Are you kidding me? I figure as long as I take care of my voice especially, even if I get to the point where I can’t play the bass anymore, I don’t think anybody minds seeing a 75-year-old Lisa Mann singing some old Sippie Wallace tunes or something. I’ll need a piano player!


AK: And with the blues sometimes the more rasp you get there, adds a little tone to it.


LM: And that’s one thing that’s cool about the blues is that they don’t care I’m almost 50 years old. I’m the youngster to a lot of folks. It’s kind of cool. 


AK: Any other lingering thoughts about the Portland music scene?


LM: I don’t know I blab. I talk about. Well like I said, I think that’s been a common complaint is that there’s all these clicks and scenes, and it’s like this is cool, and that’s not cool, and this is my scene and just not enough crossovers between those scenes. And so I think part of the remedy for that are these collaborative shows. Like I really credit Bre Gress, local artist. She put together a Bonnie Raitt tribute, and talk about her music spans everybody. And she took all these artists from the folks scene, from the blues scene, from the local rock scene, and put em’ all together. I think we need more showcases that have people from different backgrounds. I think that’s a good remedy for that. And club owners that are willing to facilitate those kinds of shows. 


AK: Have you forged relationships with club owners and people behind the scenes here?


LM: I have.


AK: Are there people that stand out?


LM: Well yeah, like my friend Sonny Hess. She’s a guitar player. She’s been producing these Northwest women’s shows for years and years, and showcasing female artists, and now she owns the Blue Diamond. She bought the Blue Diamond. And he sold it to her when he got bigger offers from other buyers because he knew that she would take care of a blues club, and keep it a music venue. So the Blue Diamond has ticketed shows as well as the late-night blues Friday and Saturday night kind of shows. R&B bands. And yeah, so there’s a few people that are taking care of things. There’s a club called Billy Blues up in Vancouver. And it’s a great restaurant so people… they want to be there. So it’s those club owners that make it a place that people want to be, and don’t just rely on the band to bring in a reluctant crowd. You know, people who are like, “Oh, I’ll have dinner someplace else.” You know what I mean. Make it a place where people want to be. And there’s a few of them out there. 

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