Erin Dickins: In Her Own Voice
ED: China's been a tough nut to crack. We talk and talk and negotiate and we've made great progress, but nothing is inked yet. Sadly, my first booking in Bangkok was cancelled. They've been experiencing such extraordinary floods; there are probably between three and four hundred thousand homeless people, the water is ten feet deep in some areas of Bangkok, and a lot of industry has been lost. It's very sad.
We've been invited to Canadian Music Week in March 2012 as one of the first jazz artists they've ever had; they're adding jazz to the program this year. We're attending the Jazz Ahead conference in Bremen, Germany in April, and we're booking dates in Germany, Austria, and Benelux around that. I am also developing a new project for European festival dates with an old friend who's a fabulous rock guitarist, Elliott Randallyou probably know his work with Steely Dan. Our collaboration is called, "Rock Me to the End of Jazz," based, of course, on Leonard Cohen's great song "Dance Me to the End of Love." Elliot and I are taking jazz tunes in my style and moving them out of the genre into a new soundscape. I have a live recording of "We'll Be Together Again" which I sent over to Elliott. It's with pianist Stefan Scaggiari, an extraordinary musician who will hopefully play all these tour dates with me. Right now, while we're talking, Elliott is mixing his soundscape guitar on top of that jazz tune, just taking it straight out of its box. We're having so much fun. We also have some originals, some which Jesse has written, that we're going to start working on soon. We're planning to do a bunch of dates together in 2012.
Since we couldn't go to Bangkok this December, I have been invited instead to an October 2012 conference called Bangkok: City of Jazz. I've been asked to serve as panelist and Stef Scaggiari and I have also been asked to do jazz outreach programs in Bangkok for Thai children on behalf of the American embassy. We are booking some Asian festivals as well. There is so much going on right now...some Spain dates, a South African thing and possibly some dates in Australia. I am very grateful and really excited about everything that's coming my way.
AAJ: What else is happening in your career and your life?
ED: I've started studying again. I found a remarkable voice teacher who insisted that the best way she could help me, before she even got near my voice, was to make me a better pianist. No more hunting and peckinggood piano playing. So then voice and piano led me to discover the Alexander technique, a practice that one does for balance and coordination and posture, a "being centered" kind of a thing. It's especially beneficial for musicians. I can't tell you what this does to your brain. I feel like a college studentit's like I'm taking three courses!
AAJ: Okay, so why don't nice girls stay for breakfast?
ED: You know, there's an old musicians' joke from the 1970s: What's the first thing a chick singer does in the morning? She puts her clothes on and goes home. I think that there are plenty of nice girls who are staying for breakfast, I really do, but maybe we just don't want our moms to know.
Erin Dickins, Nice Girls (Champagne Records, 2010)
Talking Heads, Little Creatures (Sire, 1985)
Bette Midler, Songs for the New Depression (Atlantic, 1976)
Leonard Cohen, New Skin for Old Ceremony (Columbia, 1974)
Manhattan Transfer, Jukin' (Capitol, 1971)
All Photos: Courtesy of Erin Dickins