|It is often considered the work of artists to reflect upon the world around them and use as fuel for their creative process. Singer songwriter Leslie Letven Bixler (aka Miss Bix) drew upon the resources at hand successfully delving into writing and performing children’s music while raising her son.
Now two decades later the accomplished recording artist was thrust into a global pandemic, racial and social unrest and climate change catastrophes including the California wildfires, where the Bixler family lost their home. The result was not despair or retreat, but rather a poignant and resolute collection of 14 new songs on the album, “Bring It,” released on Blue Heart Records.
The follow up to her acclaimed 2017 love letter to the Delta, “We Don’t Own The Blues,” capitalizes on the talents of many of the same players and collaborations plus new friends including IBC champion Keeshea Pratt, NOLA chanteuse, Tiffany Ann Pollack, harmonica man Jimmy Z, and keyboardist Tom Canning. Miss Bix ventures further out into the mojo triangle exploring textures of North Mississippi Hill Country Blues and New Orleans’ street beats and mixing them with her West Coast style and sensitivity.
The laid-back shuffle, ‘Aint No Such Thing,’ opens the set featuring greasy lead guitar from Frank Goldwasser. Bix chastises a lover on the edgy number ‘You’ve Got The Nerve,’ and then revels in the ideal of a lazy life on the sultry swinging ‘Cocktail Hour.’ The swampy ‘Trail Of Tears’ has a timeless feel through familiar blues lyrics and great slide playing from Goldwasser. The bittersweet tones of the ballad, ‘The Girl You Adore,’ are punctuated by the offkey 12-string guitar, bolstering Bix’s sorrowful vocals. Pratt and Bix address the racial strife that has left us with “Generations of Terror,” on the horn driven R&B track, ‘Red Walls,’ that was released as a single in 2020 earning two Bronze Medals from the Global Music Awards in the categories of Lyrics/Songwriter and Protest Music.
Bix offers encouragement to a dear friend on the rollicking ‘Cheer Up Sallie Mae,’ words we can all cherish. Bill Bixler adds rumbling baritone sax to the mysterious rhumba, ‘The Poison,’ and Jimmy Z spars with Bix on his blues harp while John ‘JT’ Thomas plays Professor Longhair styled piano on ‘You Don’t Deserve To Be My Man.’ Tiffany Ann Pollack co-wrote the rebuke from a woman scorned on ‘Daddy Why,’ with Bix and the ladies trading verses on the salty second line blues. Bix spells out her power on the gospel infused 12 bar ‘You Better Believe It,’ then recounts her childhood dreams of stardom and how music shaped her life on the rocking track ‘Shake Me Discover Me.’
Miss Bix delivers the solo acoustic lament, ‘Moving On, for the album closer, revealing equal influences from Joan Baez and Son House in her songcraft.
After three decades as a recording artist Miss Bix shows her resiliency by embracing new technologies to complete this fine new album, “Bring It,” during a complicated era of social distancing and shutdowns.
Rick J Bowen
LESLIE BIXLER aka MISS BIX aka LESLIE LETVEN has been writing, recording, and performing since her early twenties. Her first international record “Make It Right” was released on Syndrome Records under her maiden name Leslie Letven and did very well in the smooth jazz category, reaching #12 on the charts, and still receiving radio play today. At that time, she was collaborating with her talented husband Bill Bixler of the Wild Blue Band and nightclub.
Moving back to LA, Leslie and Bill produced and self-released “Porcupine,” which she sold at gigs and on CD Baby. After the birth of her son, Leslie turned her attention to children’s music, spending several days a week doing music circles with preschool age children. It was there that she wrote and test-ran several children’s songs which attracted the attention of Dick Van Dyke and Chad Smith (drummer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers), whose child was in her class. She produced two albums “Moon Food” with Dick Van Dyke and “Rhythm Train” with Van Dyke and Chad Smith. She toured with Dick and Chad promoting those albums and received notable press from many celebrities and publications and won a parent’s choice award.
Once her son grew up, Leslie’s yearning for a new musical start led her to Clarksdale Mississippi where she fell seriously in love with the blues, something she had always gravitated towards. Working with co producer collaborator Ralph Carter (former Musical Director with Eddie Money and co-writer of his hit tune ‘Shakin ’’) Leslie began writing “We Don’t Own The Blues,” a group of blues-based songs that reflect a new and exciting musical direction: passionate, intense, and sultry.