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Take Five with Barbara Lusch

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Meet Barbara Lusch:
Barbara Lusch has a unique and compelling way with a song that goes straight to your heart. Her new recording, Rock Me Sweet (Slimstyle Records), is a surprising and magnetic reinterpretation of some of the best loved rock anthems of the 80's. Well-known hits of male rock icons such as Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi and Bono have been transformed by Barbara into sophisticated, sexy, and soulful songs. You can hear "Dancin' in the Dark" sparkling with seductive style and U2's "Where the Streets Have No Name" becoming a cry of despair that evolves into a statement of triumph.

Instrument(s):
Voice

Teachers and/or influences?
My grandmother, Alice Lusch, taught me how to love music. I grew up singing with my sisters and grandmother. We were often accompanied by my grandfather playing accordion and my father playing harmonica. My grandmother had 3 sisters with whom she sang professionally. Once I heard their 4 part harmony, I was hooked.

My second influence was my high school music teacher, LaRoyce Findlay. She led a swing group that performed around the city, as well as competed. She also directed a musical production each year. I was involved in all of it.

She was a wonderful mentor, and kept me so busy that, I couldn't get into too much trouble. When I rehearsed and performed in my first union theatre job, many times I referred back to what I had learned in high school. Mrs. Findlay taught me how to be a professional performer.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...
When I was a little girl, I listened to my Grandmother and her sisters harmonize. There voices were magical and mysterious to me. I'm the youngest of four kids and, quickly learned that when I sang, it not only made me feel good but, people in my family would listen to me. I would spend hours on my backyard swing, singing and daydreaming about performing on a big stage. It made me feel free and it was the only place where I was really happy. I think i new then that singing and performing was what I wanted to do.

Your sound and approach to music:
I think my sound is intimate and straight forward, probably more like some of the singers from the 40's & 50's. My tone is pure. I like to hear and sing the melody and I love telling a story. I approach a song like an actor does a monologue. I'm very specific about each lyric. If I can't relate the lyric to my own life experience, I'll make up a story that will. I listen to different versions of the same song , vocal and instrumental only. I go through the song focusing on one instrument at a time. For example I'll just focus on the bass part all the way through, then piano, then guitar, etc. I also like to play percussion to a song. it helps me with my phrasing and rhythm.

Road story: Your best or worst experience:
When I was singing with Pepe and the Bottle Blondes, we got a gig singing during halftime of a Portland Trailblazers basketball game. During our first song, we were met with a chorus of boos from the crowd.

We were horrified as you can imagine and couldn't understand why the crowd disliked us so much. Did we show up on the wrong night? We stopped the song and walked off the stadium floor. It turns out the crowd was not booing us. They were booing replays from the first half. The best part of the story is that next day, several of the sports talk radio stations talked about our plight. The sports talk guys took mercy on us and said we shouldn't have been booed. This turned out to be great publicity for us.

Canadians love me. I know this sounds crazy, but Portland attracts a lot of Canadian tourists. After most of my shows, I get to meet some great folks from all over Canada. So, I guess I can call myself an international star. Watch out Celine.

Finally, I had to show some resourcefulness to get to a gig this summer. I left for the gig with plenty of time to spare. But, ran into the Starlight Parade running through downtown Portland. My boyfriend and I tried every route we knew to get to the gig, but were stopped by the parade. I was over a mile away from my gig and couldn't carry my equipment. I saw a bike taxi pedaling by. I told my boyfriend to stop, I was going to the gig by bike taxi. The bike taxi guy was totally happy to bring me, and my sound system, to the gig. Not only did he take me to the gig, be we even talked one of Portland's finest into letting me ride in the Parade for several blocks so we could get to the show. Despite the unexpected delay, we started on time, and had a great show (with lots of Canadians).

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