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!