They're Biddie-lightful, they're Biddie-licious, they're Biddie-lovely
The Lascivious Biddies are winning New York hearts and minds with a lusty mix of jazz harmony and humor.
By JOSHUA TANZER
There's a magical moment in many of their songs when the four women who call themselves Lascivious Biddies pull out their secret weapon and let you have it. You've taken in the bouncy rhythms, tasteful jazz solos, slyly funny lyrics sung with infectious warmth by frontwoman Lee Ann Westover, you have a big smile on your face and you're thinking, "Hey, these biddies are pretty hot stuff," and then, pow! From the entire width of the stage comes a four-part wall of harmony that's nothing short of ecstatic.
The group members have settled on the term "new generation cabaret" to describe what they do. Seemingly inspired by the likes of George Gershwin, Harold Arlen, Stephen Foster, Blossom Dearie, maybe a hint of Jacques Brel heck, probably even the Andrews Sisters this is still no martini-sipping piano-lounge music. It's in-your-face enough to take over a rock-club stage too, and it's no accident that the Biddies have a little rock and roll in their hearts.
|THE LASCIVIOUS BIDDIES|
|Lee Ann Westover (vocals)|
Deidre Rodman (piano, vocals)
Amanda Monaco (guitar, vocals)
Saskia Sunshine Lane (double bass, vocals).
Related links: Official site | AmandaMonaco.com | DeidreRodman.com | LeeAnnWestover.com | SaskiaLane.com
| MERCHANDISE FOR SALE |
|Available from CDBaby.com:|
| AUDIO |
|Betty (excerpt) || MP3|
| © 2002 Biddielicious Music. Used by permission.|
|Coney Island (excerpt) || MP3|
| © Schwartz/Deitz. Used by permission.|
|Famous (excerpt) || MP3|
|I'd Rather (excerpt) || MP3|
|Wichita (excerpt) || MP3|
| © 2002 Biddielicious Music. Used by permission.|
The seeds for the group were planted about four years ago when Westover and guitarist Amanda Monaco were in another swing band, the Camaros, and Monaco had an idea inspired by the GoGo's.
"She had just bought 'Talk Show,' " Westover remembers.
"On vinyl! For a dollar!" Monaco chimes in.
"She was like, 'I know, let's start a Gogo's cover band,' " Westover says.
The foursome still does a version of the Gogo's "Head Over Heels" a surprising jazz-folk version that gives the song a very different dimension from the original and even a Smiths cover, but by now they've found a voice of their own that's part swing, part Americana, part comedy and part lasciviousness. Westover and pianist Deidre Roman (also a member of the brilliant, kooky cartoon-music band the Raymond Scott Orchestrette) handle most of the songwriting effort, and Monaco remembers how almost casually the band started in this direction.
"Deidre wrote some songs. She said, 'Here, I wrote some songs,' " Monaco says, outstretching her hands as if presenting a sheaf of sheet music. "And we were all like, 'Ooooh!' "
The band would work out arrangements collaboratively a process that's gotten smoother with experience.
|"My path has really shifted because of the Biddies. I've come to true happiness."|| |
| Saskia Sunshine Lane|| |
"It used to take two days and an argument to come up with an arrangement. Now it takes about an hour," Westover says with some sense of relief.
"And no argument," Monaco adds.
Now the group members feel they're close to finding a voice that they're comfortable with and that's all theirs. They have grand, only half-joking aspirations in their "five-year plan" ("Carnegie Hall! Caribbean vacations!"), so maybe one day New York will be famous for its Biddies. As the foursome sings in their show-stopper, a sweet Big Apple reworking of Blossom Dearie's "Rhode Island Is Famous for You" (hear an excerpt):
Grand canyons come from Colorada,
Still, the group has the good humor to poke fun at the whole idea. As Westover belts, accompanied by sassy background vocals, in the song "Famous" (hear an excerpt):
Gold comes from Nevada.
(Divorces also do!)
But you, you're from Coney Island,
And little Coney Island
Is famous for you.
I want to be famous.
Whether or not they ever reach such a delirious height of success, the four Biddies are having a good time playing intimate club gigs in close quarters with an adoring public.
Tabloids will print what I eat.
I want to famous.
Who I do will be news on the street.
I'll end up bitter and ugly and old
Not just my body but also my soul. ...
When I'm famous, not a whit I'll give
For the little people. My own damn kids!
That's what drew Juilliard-trained double-bass player Saskia Sunshine Lane to join up with her more jazz-oriented bandmates after experiencing some disillusionment with the classical world.
"I really wasn't able to connect with the audience. Sitting in the back with nine other basses and being told by some guy in the front what to do was ... okay," she says diplomatically. "But my path has really shifted because of the Biddies. I've come to true happiness."
|FEBRUARY 2, 2004|
OFFOFFOFF.COM THE GUIDE TO ALTERNATIVE NEW YORK
Reader comments on The Lascivious Biddies:
cable from , Jun 27, 2005
Post a comment on "The Lascivious Biddies"