Lissie - Grit and Grace

Lissie is a woman.  She stands on the stage. Unassuming enough… but when the music gathers, she seems to draw upon some power, unseen, loose in the universe and it folds out through her mouth in the form of a song. She’s golden; she’s lithe- the best way I can describe her in action is if Mick Jagger were a ray of sunlight.  

The venue - downstairs at the World Cafe Live in Philadelphia makes for an almost coffee-house vibe (bonus was the artist playing the upstairs stage we got to catch for a minute or two on our way in and out!).  The intimacy allowed in that space really lent itself to Lissie’s artistry in songwriting and her vocal talent.

The first time I ever heard Lissie was a live performance of her song Ojai on a local indie radio station- and it stuck me. I had teared up by the final notes and also had found and shared it with every person I held close to my heart that I thought would receive the vibes she was expressing.  Lullaby/love-poem and break-up with a geographical location balled all in one. Her delivery was like honey mixed with desert sand.

Live in person, she summoned the same grit and grace.  Her voice powerful and her songs meaningful. I spent a lot of the set simply entranced by her sheer talent.  She also had an incredibly strong backing band with a fierce-ass female for the guitar and one on bass as well.

She was coy about playing her newly released songs, but the truther was while they are a bit different style-wise they blended quite smoothly into her existing body of work. The new album, Castles, she suggests be listened to with shuffle OFF (gasp)- and played from beginning to end like a story and preferably on vinyl  

She closed the show by inviting the audience into her space,  sitting on the edge of the stage and eventually bounding out into the crowd during “Little Lovin’ off Catching a Tiger. It was a revival-esque finale, complete with clapping, dancing, harmonies, call-and-answer and of course- jumping.

As the lights came up people were momentarily stunned- murmurs of “she was… AMAZING” and general awe bubbled up.  I left assured in my understanding that there is music in Lissie’s marrow, and it was very cool to share that with her.

Words by Larissa Nemeth | Stills by Cristina Byrne

Tash Sultana and the Universe

When the DIBS Girls meet up, it is inevitable that storm clouds will gather. It’s as if the atmosphere can sense the ratcheted energy that results in the collision of the site's founders and on Thursday, October 5th it was no different. Under heavy clouds, Cristina and I hit the road, Philadelphia-bound, but as life and luck would have it, our travails would not have the expected results.

Tash Sultana, an Australian songstress and purveyor of general good vibes, was set to perform at Union Transfer that night. Everything seemed to be in order; I was armed with paper and pen, Cristina had her camera with a ridiculously oversized lens, this was to be the official inaugural outing for DIBS.

Approaching the box office giggling, we were met by a really Gruff Dude. "Nope, not on the list," he said. "But, I have an email saying we are on the list,” I pointed out – making one of my weird faces that I pull out of my pocket to suit any necessary occasion. It would seem that the writing that he had trumped any writing I possessed.

“In the music business you have to be on the list,” said the Gruff Dude.

 But it's in writing.

“How much are the tickets?” I asked.

"Sold out, nothing I can do. Call your guy."

I let him know that our guy likely wasn't checking and responding to emails while Tash was mere moments away from taking the stage.

Okay, time to re-group. Maybe DIBS won’t be covering the Tash show and maybe we'd just go to the bar?

We huddled up to think critically. One suggestion for how to proceed was to muscle our way inside, shimmying up on stage, grabbing the mike and calling out for our guy, you know the one who had insured in writing that DIBS was on the list.

We were getting a little too psyched for the idea when ….

"I have a ticket," a small accented voice said to us. A slightly unkempt man had approached our two-woman huddle.  He carried a bag in one hand and in the other he proffered a crumpled ticket. "I don't want it, you can have it," he offered.

We thanked him but impressed upon him that we needed two tickets, not just one. But that did not deter our friend. Instead of forcing the issue or leaving to find another taker, he said "I'm homeless and I do magic,” - and he wasn't lying, at least about the magic.

He showed us the already known jumping matchsticks trick and then proceeded to show us one that we haven’t seen yet. “Do you like Batman he asked?” Little did we know, Batman is hidden on the back of the dollar bill?! “Woah, that’s cool!” we told him.

He also made sure to point out that he bought new underwear. “New underwear is always very important,” I said.

His magic was dazzling us in a way that we couldn't focus. Cristina gave him a couple of pieces of gum for his entertainment and parted ways.

A few moments later, our homeless, magician friend approached us again and said, "tickets!"

Yes, we know you have a ticket – no - he has two now... or he found somebody who had two they could part with.

Two angelic girls hovered in a window frame, "you guys need two tickets?" - Um yes. That is exactly what we need. Their friends ditched them and apparently, the universe had aligned for us. "Do you just want them?" the girl asked handing the tickets out. Our homeless magician friend was seated with the girls and looking very proud of himself for helping us out of our ticket-pickle

 Of course, we wanted them.

“Yes we do, thank you!” Hugs were given to strangers and we proceeded inside. Photo pass in hand? Nope. But hey, we had that MC Hammer air about us now, you know, "Can't Touch This" and all.

At this point, I could tell you about the Pierce Brothers, who we watched from the balcony, Australian brothers with a lot of siblings to sing about and their harmonica-handling, guitar-drumming, didgeridoo slinging' antics.

I could also tell you about Tash Sultana - damn Tash - a 22-year-old just oozing sweet positive karma. Her music wraps you up in jungle warmth and lush layering. She carries the crowd's breath – withholding - and then dropping the bass always at exactly the right moment. Her pleasure in this marionette string pulling is obvious on stage. She's an experience, in addition to a freaking amazing musician.  

But I'm not going to get into it because the real story has already been told.

Moral of the story, the universe will serve you but not until it meets its own purpose.

Hello World - I'm calling Dibs.

Words by Larissa Nemeth | Images by Cristina Byrne