|West Virginia born singer songwriter and award-winning artist Lisa Mann has a range of skills that has earned her international acclaim as a band leader and sought-after support player. Now based in Portland Oregon, Mann is a two-time Blues Music Award winner for her astounding bass playing, a Blues Blast Sean Costello Rising Star Award winner, and has dozens of awards from the Cascade Blues Association and the Oregon Music Hall of Fame. These much-deserved awards are highlights of an impressive 20-plus year career, but what sets Mann apart is her intellect, compassion, and generous personality.
Her new release “Old Girl” is a five song EP, recorded at Primal Studio in Portland by Kevin Hahn, featuring members of her road band “Her Really Good Band;” Jason Thomas on guitars with drummers Michael Ballash and Dave Melyan, along with special guests Louis Pain on Hammond B3, and spirited backing vocals from Sonny Hess, Brian Foxworth, LaRhonda Steele and Arietta Ward. The four new original tracks and an inspired cover from recent “Rock N Roll Hall of Fame” inductee, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, stand as a musical postcard from the heart of the hard-working blues woman, who is wise beyond her years.
The title track opens the album with a country-tinged dose of self-analysis from the mid-life perspective of a woman trying to reconcile how to compete in an ever-changing world that holds youth in high esteem. The mid-tempo groove of ‘Old Girl’ has Mann’s strong alto bolstered by sweet B3 lines and chiming guitars. In the album notes Mann gives credit to the inspiration for the rambling happy go lucky track, ‘It’s The Monkeys Or Me,’ to a true story from her old friends. Many a romance has faced the classic ultimatum of choice, but one involving pet primates is hysterical and proves truth is stranger than fiction. Mann spells out the plight of a working woman in the dog-eat-dog world of the music business on the gut bucket funk track ‘Everybody’s Making Money.’ She name checks the hurdles a DYI artist must jump over, while Jason “JT” Thomas throws down sizzling lead guitar and Michael Ballash thunders away on the drum kit.
The Godmother of Rock ‘N’ Roll, Sister Rosetta Tharpe was a pioneer in the development of R&B and the electric guitar. Lisa Mann pays loving tribute to her and makes a statement for equal rights on a revved-up cover of one of her signature tunes, ‘That’s All’ (first recorded in 1938), as a plea for love and equality. The timely selection provides poignant commentary on how conflict is often caused by commercial greed. In the times that we live in, Tharpe’s music is needed more than ever. Songs of “In Memoriam” that pay homage to the fallen have long been the stock and trade of accomplished songwriters. Lisa Mann adds her voice to the lexicon penning the dramatic opus ‘Around Here.’ The gospel fueled ballad doesn’t mention the music heroes by name, but Mann’s vivid description of long-gone musical icons brings forth familiar images that any fan can readily picture of local legends who left a legacy through their musical gifts. “They may not be famous, but we will remember them around here.”
The EP “Old Girl” from Lisa Mann marks a place of confident introspection from a seasoned artist, who knows herself and her sense of purpose, fashioned into a concise and to the point musical novelette.
Rick J Bowen
Originally from West Virginia, Mann’s vocals effortlessly straddle the line between the honey sweet warmth of the south, and the force-of-nature sound Mann has cultivated by mastering everything from hard rock to rhythm and blues. Her clever blues balladry is complimented by her considerable prowess on bass guitar. Her bass grooves touch on the hallowed soil of soul greats James Jamerson and Bob Babbitt.
Her influences run the gamut, from low down blues sisters Etta James and Koko Taylor, to singer-songwriters like Bonnie Raitt and R&B belters like Little Milton. She writes most of her recorded material, and her songs paint pictures of a gritty (and sometimes humorous) personal experience in life, love, and the not-always-pretty music business.
Lisa has shared the stage with many Northwest greats, such as the late Paul Delay, Lloyd Jones, Kevin Selfe, Duffy Bishop, Karen Lovely, Ellen Whyte, the Insomniacs, and Sonny “Smokin’” Hess. She has often lent her bass grooves and musical direction to Sonny Hess’ NW Women’s Rhythm and Blues Revue, a popular showcase at festivals such as the Waterfront Blues Fest, and at Musicians for the Cure’s annual cancer charity Christmas show.
Lisa’s vocals appear on Canadian blues master Bill Johnson’s Juno Award nominated CD, Still Blue. (www.billjohnsonblues.com). She is also the voice of internationally acclaimed symphonic rock project Cry for Eden (www.cryforeden.com) and has released a full length traditional metal album under the pseudonym White Crone (www.whitecrone.com).