Downtown Tucsonan - May 2008 - (Page 13)
Hangin’ with Lisa Otey by Tony Frank isa otey is a musician of the people. Recently inducted into the arizona Blues Hall of Fame and the tucson Music Hall of Fame, otey has won a multitude of local awards which are voted on by regular folk. Fans love her sultry voice, wild barrel-house piano, numerous recordings and her affable, relaxed style. the dt sat with otey on a beautiful spring day at La Placita Village over a root beer float and shot the breeze. L DT: Does it humble you to have won so many local awards especially those decided by public vote, i.e. ‘The Tammies’ and ‘Best of Tucson?’ Lo: It’s wonderful to be recognized! Many musicians say they can’t make it at home. they have to travel. at home they don’t get appreciated. I feel so appreciated here. DT: How many awards have you won? Lo: (laughing) I can’t count them…it’s like Elvis. I keep adding trophy rooms! DT: What is it that makes you so revered as a musician? Lo: I’ve always felt supported and embraced by the local community. I moved here in ’84 and ever since I started gigging, people have always been really warm and returning to gigs - it made it easy to make my living as a musician. DT: Perhaps stylistically you are easy to listen to. Maybe people relate to your song choices and approach. Lo: sure. It’s a lot of what’s familiar. what’s important is connecting with the audience and making an intimate experience. some musicians kind of turn their backs to the audience - they’d rather not have to deal with them at all. I’m all about getting the audience involved, singing along and trying to feel like we’re right next to each other, whether in a theatre or little club. I think it works - that (intimate) connection DT: What music shaped you early on? Lo: My parents listened to classical. they were both music teachers. My brother played trombone in Jazz band. I thought that was really cool. I moved here with him from oregon to study at the u of a. after studying for two years I got so busy gigging - I dropped out. I wasn’t a serious student. I just wanted to play piano better. DT: When did piano begin for you? Lo: I was four. My parents took me to the music store and said, “Pick out an instrument.” DT: And you picked the biggest, heaviest one?! Lo: (laughing) I picked the violin - my dad’s instrument. after a few years of screeching on it - actually, I don’t think I was that bad, when I was five my dad let me sit in with his orchestras at school. after the concert, I said: “this is what I want to do.” My future was set in motion. at six I said, “I want to switch to piano. I don’t want to play violin anymore.” Mom said, “You have to be serious! You have to be serious as a musician! You can’t just flit around from instrument to instrument.” she made me wait a whole year. continued on page 27 may.08. downtown tucsonan 13
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