Friday, July 2, 2010

Homegrown Radio 7/2/10

Hi, folks!  Yours truly is back after a whirlwind trip to northern Montana to hear Rory Block perform—a great show, & in fact I’ll be writing something about that here tomorrow; no Sepia Saturday for me this week.  We have a show on Sunday, & I need some time to catch up after the trip.

It’s time to introduce our performer for July’s segments of Homegrown Radio.  This month, I’m very pleased to introduce someone who’s been a big inspiration to me musically, as well as a great friend: Dani Leone, AKA Sister Exister (& for you poetry fans out there, also AKA L.E. Leone!)

Dani, who now performs under the Sister Exister nom de guerre, is a seasoned performer, having been a founding member of the group Ed’s Redeeming Qualities along with her cousin, the late Dom Leone, Carrie Bradley & Neno Perotta; Jonah Winter also was a member of Ed’s Redeeming Qualities following the band’s move from New Hampshire to San Francisco.  Ed’s secured a recording contract with Flying Fish & issued four albums, & enjoyed a strong following, particularly in the Bay Area, the greater Boston area & around Cleveland.  Dani wrote songs, sang, played baritone uke & one-string electric bass.  Dani also performed in Earl Butter’s band, the Buckets, & later went on to learn steel drum, which she played in Lipsey Mountain Spring Band.  These days, in addition to her ongoing restaurant review gig with the Bay Guardian & her writing, Dani performs solo or with occasional side players under the name Sister Exister; she has an album out, too: Scratch, which you can find on CDBaby right here.  Those who’d like a bit more background can also read Dani’s Musical Questions interview on Robert Frost’s Banjo.

Let’s here what Sister Exister has to say about today’s song, “Understanding”:

All the instruments are homemade except the uke & the trumpet. The trumpeteer is of course Earl Butter, and there's some backup understanding provided by Seth Karten. Otherwise, it's all me. The funnest part is percussion. What I do, I find a slick, prefab electronic drum beat on GarageBand, and then, instead of looping it, I study, deconstruct, and recreate it, piece-by-piece, using tupperware, pots & pans, and whatever else I find lying around in the kitchen. Cooks and dishwashers with discerning ears will detect, on this one: a tupperware full of dry black beans being smacked by a wooden spoon, an empty tupperware being thumped by an empty plastic water bottle, and a whisk on a small tin pot. It was probably the worse song ever written until Earl Butter contributed his trumpet solo, and then, all of a sudden ....

Yep, that’s right: homemade steel drum & one-string bass.  & check out that fuzztone uke solo!


  1. Great! This belongs on the soundtrack to a Jim Jarmusch film; it fits his sensibility like a glove. I have a feeling Tom Waits would love this one, too; it has his kind of late-night feeling to it. I think Fridays in July are going to be very interesting indeed!

  2. Hi Roy: Glad you liked it! We actually used a much different, instrumental version of this song in a soundtrack Eberle & I did for a dramatic production of Tove Jansson's "Moominpappa at Sea." In that case, it was Dani on steel drum & yrs truly on a tenor resonator uke.

  3. Yes, Tom Waits, the kitchen percussion reminds me of Po' Girl's energy, but under control.
    can't wait to hear about Rory.

  4. p.s. Dani
    I love the lyrics!

  5. Hi Dianne: So glad you liked this, & I know Dani appreciates the comments, too!

  6. I can't get the song to load up which is frustrating me no end! However, I enjoyed Dani's self description of her understanding.

    And Sister Exister is a great name!

    (Oh, and a henna tattoo lasts for about six weeks. You would have been very, very welcome to join our Canada Day celebrations yesterday ... both personally and musically!)

  7. Hi Nana Jo: Sorry you're having problems with the song loading--it seems to be working on my computer. Thanks for the henna tattoo info!


Thanks for stopping by & sharing your thoughts. Please do note, however, that this blog no longer accepts anonymous comments. All comments are moderated. Thanks for your patience.