Fergie and Me

I’ve been getting my ass handed to me all over the place over the last few years. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Lately things have been cheerful. I’ve accepted that my ex-partner is not the stellar friend or even human being that I once believed he was and I’ve stopped trying to bridge the gap. It’s been interesting to finally understand how skewed my thinking can be when I am viewing things through the muddy glasses of self-doubt and recrimination. I was so convinced that I was unworthy that I couldn’t see anything but my own flaws, and I overlooked way too much and accepted way too little as a result. Now I’m not asking for things that will not be given, nor am I planning on giving any more. Sometimes the rear view mirror reveals more than expected.

I’m also clear that Sam, while remaining one of my closest people, has much to experience in his life that cannot always include me, and vice versa. We’re still attached at the hip most days, and I don’t foresee that changing any time soon, but it is not a relationship in the normal sense of the word.

Anyway, this is not another relationship blog. Yawn to that. I’m just saying I’m in a pretty independent space right now and that information is coming in hard and fast from all different places. Exes and onstage alike.

So I was asked to sing at the last Sally Can’t Dance party that happened on Sunday, this one a tribute to the Stones “Some Girls”. Sam and I were supposed to sing a duet at the Cramps one a few months ago but we bailed bc he was going to be out of town and I didn’t think I’d be any good at a Lux vocal. And we love the Stones and listen to that album constantly, so it seemed appropriate. We picked “Lies”. It’s short, Sam could sing an easy back up for me and then do his own song, which was one not on the album – “Happy”.

Alas. Alack.

I would never compare myself to Fergie, but the fact that she’s having a bad week musically has not escaped my attention after my own night. I like her, she’s sexy and cool and seems down to earth and fun in interviews. And now she’s had her ass handed to her over her noodley version of the national anthem. Lots of ass-carrying in this life, whether you’re famous or not.

So here’s how mine went down. And then I’ll tell you what I learned from it.

I can carry a tune and I am comfortable with a microphone in my hand. I’ve had lots of experience onstage so I’m not shaky about it. But I am fully aware that my voice is limited and I am not a “real” musician. I have no desire to be in a band anymore and prefer working behind the scenes. I’ve never played an instrument and I do a lot of counting in my head to know when to come in on verses or choruses. I can’t harmonize for shit. BUT I have charisma and I’m fun and I’ll dress up and that makes up for the not always stellar vocals.

Because I am not someone who jams or sings regularly anymore, I try to prepare as much as possible ahead of time for these one and done guest appearances. I’ll listen to the song over and over again, counting bars and writing the lyrics down until I know exactly what and when I’m singing. “Lies” by the way, is a mumbly mess of lyrics.

I thought I had it down pretty well. It’s not a standard verse chorus verse chorus arrangement, but it’s a two minute song where you’re primarily yelling. Two verses, two sort of choruses, a lot of repeating the word “lies” over and over again and then you’re out. Easy peasy.

When I did Motorhead’s “I’ll Be Your Sister” last year I walked into rehearsal and we banged it out perfectly in two takes. The musicians were all friends of mine and everything was nice and tight and to the recorded versions.

This time I didn’t know anyone. And while they were all excellent players–professional, friendly, well-respected in the business–they were much looser with the songs, which is appropriate for the Stones, not as appropriate for me. I don’t do loose very well and after the beginning verses I couldn’t consistently tell when I was supposed to come in. We ran through it twice, sloppily, and though I felt nervous, the band leader assured me that he would cue me and I figured we’d be good as long as I kept my eye on him.

That night one performer after another got up and pretty much killed it. Everyone was on point and I still thought I’d be fine. I always am, in one way or another. And I had really good eyelashes on, a present from Zoe Stark. They were so big and lush that Sam said, referring to his transgender sister, who is gorgeous– “You look like my brother!” High praise indeed. It’s hard to go wrong when your makeup is right.

But onstage things go at a much faster pace and you can’t pause to regroup. Sam and I got up and made it through the verses okay. Then the rest of it collapsed in on itself. I had no idea where to jump in and I kept looking around for the cues that didn’t come. Sam was following me so he was equally flummoxed. I stood there gaping at the band in confusion and then, boom, the song was done. They just hammered through the second half without any cues or vocals.


I did what all good singers do after a bad show. I drank ALL the tequila and cried to anyone within earshot. Sam reassured me that we could make people delete the video and then we’d just have awesome photos left behind. Dina Regine, who you should be listening to if you aren’t already, told me it was fine and to own it un-apologetically. I nearly burst into tears when she said that because she’s so talented and kind. Erik Toast, one of my favorite frontmen ever, reminded me of the creative and slightly confusing way he butchered “Ace of Spades” at the Motorhead Sally. Which, btw, I thought he did on purpose, so I guess owning it really is the way to go.

And then I had yet another drink with Mick Stitch, who is family to me. And before I continue, can I acknowledge how lucky I am that all of these amazing people are around to comfort and advise? Best rock and roll life ever, even when it’s not.

Mick and I have known each other for a very long time, since we were kids really. My sister and I have a nickname for him that resulted from seeing him passed out naked in my apartment regularly when he went out with her many years ago. I have promised not to use it in public anymore but I will tell you that it has something to do with the fact that he has a great ass.

Mick did an impeccable version of “Respectable” that night. It was snotty, sexy, and on point: one of the highlights of the show for me. Talk about owning it; he made that song his bitch. I told him that I just didn’t hear my song live the way I heard it on the album and that it threw me, hard. I told him how embarrassed I was at the performance, in that packed room and bookended by so many spectacular renditions.

Mick told me he had the same experience in the rehearsal, but he made the band repeat his song over and over again until he felt it was right. He told me that you have to claim your space of leading the band when you’re singing. That was the rubber mallet of “Oooooh” hitting me over head.

DUH! That hadn’t even occurred to me as a possibility. Once again I was so insecure and worried about taking up space, about not being good enough, that I handed over my destiny to strangers who could not possibly anticipate my needs and had very little stake in my success or failure. I knew instinctively what would work for me and I never thought to ask for it.

I always do this to myself. I do it in relationships, I do it in jobs, I do it onstage. But why? Why am I always willing to subvert imperative, yet simple things in order to appear more pleasing or to acknowledge that someone else is better or more worthy than I am? The band wouldn’t have cared if I made them repeat the song a few more times. At worst it might have been annoying. It was my own fear that put me in that difficult position. I’d rather take a chance at sucking in front of a packed room than merely annoy a few talented musicians.

I think this is something many women do, and definitely something most women my age were trained to do. We are afraid of taking up too much space. I was taught to “be nice”, to the point that it crippled me and got me date raped and caused me to confuse abuse with love. I was never taught how to say “no” gracefully or to hold my ground with ease. So I’ll accommodate and accommodate and then out of the blue explode from the pressure and cause unnecessary damage and/or scare the crap out of everyone.

Anyway, beyond the actual lesson, very much a two minute tempest in a teapot, especially now that I’ve had a couple of days to process. Sam dropped me off at home at the end of the night and I went upstairs and cried into my favorite cat until his white fur was smudgey with mascara. Cleansing for me, not so much for him. The next day I retreated into my personal comfort zone of video games, spaghetti, and early 70’s Todd Rundgren. My girlfriends all texted very kind messages. They love me and would cheer wildly if I opened a bag of potato chips onstage. Jesse Malin called because he’s the greatest ex-boyfriend in the history of ex-boyfriends, knows me well, and wanted to make sure I wasn’t spiraling into my standard overly-dramatic hole.

I assured him I wasn’t. I’m great and grateful. Sometimes you’re gonna blow your two minutes in the spotlight and that’s okay. No one died or got fired; I didn’t have the entire NBA smirking at me like a bunch of dicks.

Life goes on. But I did think it was worthy of noting for anyone who operates the same way. It doesn’t have to be about music; it applies to all interactions in life. It is okay to ask for what you need. It is okay to receive what you need without apologizing. There is enough for everyone and making yourself smaller to appease other people or because you are scared of asking deprives both you and the world of your bigness.

This is, IMHO, the reason that some women get strident and rageful later in life. They said yes one too many times and now they’re gonna kill you if you ask them to pass the salt. Subverting ourselves either crushes us into dust or turns us into monsters. And the world desperately needs all of our bigness right now. There’s no more time for false humility or petty bullshit. So next time I’m gonna rehearse the shit out of it until grown-ass musicians are crying into their beer and waving cues at me from across the room.

But check it: great photo from Jeff Smith–eyelashes on fleek. Don’t worry, I took them off and put them back in their box before smearing the cat. I am a professional, after all.

Jeff Smith

Namaste, bitches.



Shooting Star

I try to avoid eulogizing NYC too much any more. We all know that the flavor has been priced and railroaded out of town by developers and that our version of the city disappeared as we changed and grew older. But change is the only constant, nothing stays the same and even if there was some kind of underground scene now, we would hate it because it’s not ours. There probably is, all those young guys with waxed old-timey mustaches must be hanging out with those droopy, skinny young girls with weird mullet cuts and no makeup somewhere, listening to something, I guess drinking craft beer and talking about getting DJ gigs “just for fun”. We see them and we think, “Yech.” They see us and they think, “Dinosaurs.”

It’s fine. I don’t hate all of them. My boyfriend Sam is a millennial too, albeit a strange one who loves my heyday more than his own. My friend overheard two girls his age talking, one said, “Yeah, he’s cute but don’t bother. He likes old ladies.” That made us chuckle. But it’s somewhat true, and he reminds me of what it is to be that young and to still be sorting out exactly who you are and who you want to be. It’s not easy and I too have liked and worn some stupid things along the way. Circle of life and all that crap.

So after years of emotional struggle, I accept where we’re at, at least culturally. I know I probably have a few more years in the city and then I’ll retire on a farm with Storm somewhere, where we will collect too many animals, sleep alone in our bedrooms, get drunk on the porch while reminiscing, and casually ogle the younger neighbors when we go into town for groceries.

But I digress…

Rock shows are sparsely attended for the most part, bands go on much earlier because the fans are older, people have day jobs and/or kids to attend. Many of my peers, often the ones who complain the most, won’t go to a show even if they do have the time. They wear it like a badge of geriatric honor, “Oh, I don’t go out anymore…” I do, though in a different, less frenetic manner. I still like the hand I have in it; my jobs allow me to work on the back end of the music world and I still get to see some of my old friends and hear live music. That’s enough every couple of weeks or so, and I’m usually home by 1 am no matter who is playing. I need my rest.

On Friday I was honored to be able to host the Elyse Steinman memorial gig at Wham Bam Raff and Sam, our weekly happy hour party. Greg Stryzempka flew in from Washington, he and Alec Morton put a ton of work and love into making it happen, and we got a bona fide Raging Slab gig, with Alec at his bass post, Greg playing guitar and Elyse’s slide guitar, Mark Middleton on guitar, Bob Pantanella and Paul Sheehan switching off on drums, with special guests on songs Daniel Rey, Tom Five (who flew in from LA for it), Liza Colby, and Pamela Grande.


I remember the first time I saw Raging Slab at Danceteria in the mid-80’s. I was setting up the bar before opening and Greg was soundchecking onstage with his super long hair and tan/brown clothes. This wasn’t fully the norm yet, we were all still looking pretty goth at that point. He laughed and joked into the mic and then Elyse got up with him and they played with an ease and talent that caused me to pause what I was doing. Again, different than what we were listening to at the time, a portent of what was to come.

And then things blew up in the best way possible and our army of leather took over the East Village and there were amazing shows every night and we all got record deals and rock and roll was king and/or queen. Those were the days my friend, we thought they’d never end.

Joey Ramone Tour Bus

All these years later I walked into another soundcheck and saw Greg and Alec onstage and immediately burst into tears. I wasn’t expecting such a visceral reaction; I had to leave the room to pull myself together. I thought I’d become immune. But it felt so good to see Greg up there, and so poignant that Elyse wasn’t next to him that I felt overwhelmed with both joy and sadness. My heart swelled with the ache of it.

I had to rush around to set up the bar and was busy with customers and friends as soon as I opened for business. I am taking a break from alcohol for a few weeks and I felt anxious and crabby because there wasn’t time or space to fully process the emotions running through me or alternatively anesthetize with a shot or two. I am glad I weathered it sober though, because it allowed me to be present and to take it all in.

Once Slab hit the stage I couldn’t stay behind the bar. I tried, but it was too hard to focus on anything but the music. I pushed my way through the small crowd in the small room to the front of the small stage, and my old CSFH bandmate Vas Kallas (Venus P. Crusher), along with all of our friends, headbanged and danced and shouted the choruses. I had tears in my eyes the entire time and we hugged each other and screamed as if we were in an arena instead of a bar.

The songs sounded so good, SO good. Not just because they are the songs of our youth, but because our youth was full of really, really great songs and performers. I haven’t forgotten my past, I spend a lot of time answering Sam’s questions and telling him inside stories about what happened “back then”. But I’ve also had to put it in the back of my mind. It was like seeing someone years later that you were madly in love with who broke your heart. You put them behind you because you have to, but your cells never forget.

What a force we were: an army of talented idiots in hair dye and rock and roll gear, even with our inner skirmishes and ego-battles, infidelities and competitions, always united in our otherness and our music. We were all gonna be rock stars. And we were, even if most of the world doesn’t know or remember. We were all beautiful, that time was magical, and although we look like ordinary middle aged people to the rest of the world, we still have that magic within us. So I cried for the loss of a comrade, for the loss of my youth, and for the sheer joy of being able to step back into it for a moment with some of the people who experienced it too.

The last song of the set was a cover of Bad Company’s “Shooting Star”. Everyone sang along and it filled up the room with its beauty and we all felt Elyse dancing with us, her photos taped to the walls smiling and encouraging, the song so perfectly for her. At the end of it we all put our hands in the air and looked to the ceiling, to the sky, to her and shouted, “We love you, Elyse!”

Thank you for bringing us together one more time, Darling. You are very much loved and missed.




California Dreamin’

Hey hey!

Things have been great lately, which feels new. And means I haven’t felt driven to bleed out all over the keyboard. But I have this new web address so I’ve gotta get something down.

I was told by someone recently that if it wasn’t for my sense of humor this blog would be self-indulgent baloney. That made me chuckle, because it’s true. The upside to all the pain/change I experienced in 2015 and 2016 is that I am much less worried about poor to middling reviews. It’s my blog so you get what you get. Write what you know–I know the shape and size of my navel.

But today I’m being practical and simply want to let anyone who doesn’t already have me hogging their facebook feed that I’ve been toiling with my pals/co-workers at Wendigo Productions to put together a ten day West Coast tour for the Liza Colby Sound and The Sweet Things. We’re very proud to be working with these two awesome bands and it’s been fun to coordinate everything and everyone–vans, gear, tour manager, flights, hotels, etc. I’ve always enjoyed being on the side of the stage as much as standing up front, maybe more. It’s much easier to show up at door time, wield a clipboard with unwarranted authority, then critique a show from the bar than to be stuck in a van for hours then try to look and sound cute onstage after putting on your makeup and doing a vocal warm-up in a filthy bathroom with broken stall doors and no toilet paper. And beyond that, it’s awfully nice to finally have a paying job that I enjoy.

This is the press release if you’re not familiar with the bands.  I will be in LA from May 18 through May 23. I’m pretending they need me but it’s mostly an excuse to hang out in a city I love. Hit me up!

The Dirty Sweet Sound Tour Is Presented by Wendigo Productions NY
Ilegal Mezcal Is Sponsoring the May 22nd show in L.A. at Harvard & Stone

April 19, 2017 (New York, NY) – Wendigo Productions NY presents The Dirty Sweet Sound Tour featuring two New York City bands supporting new music releases. The Sweet Things have a two-sided single dropping on May 15th called “Love To Leave/Cocaine Asslicker Blues.” And The Liza Colby Sound have the new track called “My World” also coming out on May 15th. Ilegal Mezcal is sponsoring a special night at Harvard & Stone in Los Angeles on May 22nd.

“The Sweet Things felt a connection with The Liza Colby Sound immediately,” explains guitarist Lorne Behrman. “It was like a pheromone instinct—we sensed we were from the same rock n’ soul DNA – this morphed into a mutual admiration society with both bands inspiring and influencing each other.” Liza records with the band in studio and performs with them onstage.

The Sweet Things call their new single “a slice of ragged Stonesy punk rock.” And Liza Colby testifies “When I sing, I want it to be badass, feminine, empowering, and ooze sexuality. I want to kick mother#$&ers in the face with rock n’ roll.”

The Sweet Things hail from the streets of the East Village and formed the band in 2015. What drew them together was a passion for the Rolling Stones, Johnny Thunders, Izzy Stradlin, old country and blues, and a love of arena rock. Since then the band has shared the bill with artists like the Toilet Boys (sold-out show), Faster Pussycat, The Dead Daisies, been featured on local news channel NY1, had videoed jams with Jyrki 69 that racked-up 13,000 views in four days, and performed at the L.A.M.F. tribute (along side members of Blondie, The Heartbreakers, The Replacements, and The MC5).

The Sweet Things are Dave Tierney (The Sharp Lads), Lorne Behrman (The Dimestore Haloes, L.E.S. Stitches, The Dead Tricks), Sam Hariss (Stiletto), and Darren Fried (Mazard, Tongue). Frequently the band is joined onstage by Liza Colby.

The Liza Colby Sound includes a trio of musicians who have two decades of rock’n’roll experience. These formidable players boast impressive resumes that include working with Ozzy Osbourne, Rick Derringer, Edgar Winter, Raging Slab, Suzanne Vega, Garland Jeffreys, Lenny Kaye, Jim Carroll Band, the Del Fuegos (featuring Dan Zanes), The Paley Brothers, Denis Leary, and Joey Ramone, among other well-known names. These all-stars are also known for scoring music for film and television, most recently contributing to the Denis Leary show Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll.

Beyond her central role in The Liza Colby Sound, Liza has lent her silk and sandpaper vocal stylings to Enrique Iglesias, Denis Leary John Legend, The Gold Setting, Johnny Burgos, The Sweet Things, Chris Rock’s movie Top 5 (which featured her song “It Ain’t Easy”), Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll (she’s the singing voice of Elaine Hendrix). In addition, Liza’s voice has aired on ESPN, VH1, NASCAR, and Sesame Street.

The Liza Colby Sound’s current live line-up features Liza Colby on vocals, Alec Morton on bass, Charlie Roth on drums, Adam Roth on guitar (on the album) and Tom McCaffrey as touring guitar player. In addition to the new single the band has two other releases including, Live (2013), and High Yellow (2011). A new release titled, Let It Happen, is slated for later this year. Influences the band cites include Iggy Pop, Humble Pie, Small Faces, Ike & Tina and Tame Impala.

The Dirty Sweet Sound Tour featuring The Sweet Things & The Liza Colby Sound:

Friday, May 19th at Redwood Bar, Los Angeles, CA w/ Motochrist
Saturday, May 20th at The Pour House in Oceanside, CA
Sunday, May 21st at Alex’s Bar in Long Beach, CA
Monday, May 22nd at Harvard & Stone in Los Angeles, CA sponsored by Ilegal Mezcal
Tuesday, May 23rd at Riley’s Tavern in Bakersfield, CA
Wednesday, May 24th at The Ritz in San Jose, CA
Thursday, May 25th at the Night Light in Oakland, CA
Friday, May 26th at Oberon’s in Ashland, OR
Saturday, May 27th at The Twilight Cafe in Portland, OR
Sunday, May 28th at Victory Lounge in Seattle, WA
Friday, June 2nd at Bowery Electric in New York, NY

Visit The Sweet Things online:

Visit The Liza Colby Sound online:
Twitter / Instagram @lizacolbysound

For press materials, or to set-up interviews with bands on The Dirty Sweet Sound Tour please contact Fly PR: T. 323-667-1344 E. flypr@flypr.net (Ilka) or E. buzz@flypr.net (Toni) or E. info@flypr.net (Libby).


PS. Shout out to my guy Sam Hariss, bass player for The Sweet Things, who when asked how he felt about having his girlfriend on the road with his band, said something to the effect of “Totally psyched she’s coming. I’m the same guy on tour that I am at home, so why wouldn’t I be?”

I will try to remember to live stream some bits of the shows on facebook and take non-blurry photos for those of you at home. Don’t be mad if it’s all shots of my feet next to a glass of wine at the hotel pool.

Oh, and PPS. I’ll be working with Alec Morton and Greg Slab on a memorial evening for Elyse Steinman on June 30. Save the date and I’ll post more info as it comes in.