Kristi Martel and Bonnie McKee – Redheaded Piano Divas!

So by some crazy coincidence, this week on Lyrical Venus Radio I have not one but TWO interviews with redheaded, powerhouse, piano playing, singing, songwriting divas. And when I say diva I mean in the “Holy wowzers, what a voice!” category, because both of these ladies were super sweet and down-to-earth to talk to.

I’ve actually seen Kristi Martel perform several times before. Each time I’ve been amazed by her range, both vocal and emotional. She has this impish, ageless, bubbly personality that is so fun to watch. She does these amazing things with her voice and the piano that you just don’t see in everyday music. What really amazes me is how much pain she’s gone through in her life and still comes back to that sense of joy (on stage at least!)

I’ve been keeping up with Kristi’s happenings through her email list, so when I saw she was coming back to town May 31st for a show at Cafe Paradiso I emailed her to say I’d be happy to do an interview for extra promotion. She wrote back to say that she wouldn’t be able to call in during the show but if I called her manager we could set up another time to record a call. It turned out they had a few days available last week to call in. So it was super fun to get to talk to her for more than the little normal after show, “Thanks so much for coming” sort of thing. Looking forward to seeing Kristi live again!

Here’s a preview of what you might see if you come too! It’s called Silver:

Feed and email readers may need to come to the blog to see the videos

Last week as I was walking into the open mic a woman I know was walking in too, and she asked me if I knew Bonnie McKee. The name sounded awfully familiar, but I couldn’t quite place it. She went on to mention that Bonnie had been in August Rush, and I started racking my brains because I love that movie but I’d only seen it once. I sign in, get a hazelnut steamer and find a table. It’s a slightly different crowd than normal, and it seems like most of these new people must know who Bonnie McKee is because they have copies of August Rush or they are friends of the woman who talked to me on the way in. And then this girl with AMAZING candy-apple red hair, leopard print high heels and a big red belt with two big plastic hearts for the buckle shows up and I know this has to be Bonnie, but I still can’t place her. It turns out the featured performer for the night has canceled at the last minute so they tell Bonnie she can have the full 1/2 hour slot at the end of the night. (Everyone else gets 10 minutes or 2 songs, whichever comes first.)

Not many performers show up, so even though I signed up for the 4th slot I had to go second. I was pretty nervous because a) it was my second open mic in maybe a couple of years, b) there are a whole bunch of new, non-performers there to watch c) I’m planning to debut TWO songs, one that’s only a week old, and c)it’s also in front of this famous girl from LA AND also hosting the night is one of my musical heroines – Sharon Bousquet. Eeek! I made it through both with just a few stumbles, and Sharon said “Those are some good tunes.” Whew.

A few more performers take their turn and then Bonnie gets up on stage. She has already figured out that she’s going to stack two chairs up to get to the proper height to reach the piano, “The only person I know shorter than me is my mom!” She apologizes in advance because she hasn’t played out in long time and her mom (who lives in town) had kind of sprung the whole idea on her, so she hadn’t had time to prepare anything either. “I don’t even know what I’m going to play!” she says. “Well, here, you might know this one…”

I sit alone
In the dark theatre
watchin’ the people go by
Hand in hand
Everybody but me

I stay behind
Watchin’ the credits roll by
Roll roll roll right by me

“OH! THAT song! THAT girl! Yes, I quite liked that song when it came out…” says my brain, and then settles in to a short but amazing little set of great pop songs by Bonnie McKee, including a new one called To Find You that she wrote for August Rush that didn’t get used in the movie but I super loved and definitely could see in SOME movie someday… (you can hear it on her MySpace.)

Here’s Bonnie playing Somebody, Live on Jimmy Kimmel:

Though she’s not sure she has enough to fill up the 1/2 hour she actually gets pretty close. She also mentions she is working on a new album, and that she is going to stop by the radio station tomorrow. After her set I go up to ask her if she’s going to give a copy of her stuff to the station because I’d be happy to play it on my show, and say that maybe when her new album comes out she could do an interview on the show. She says that all sounds good and also that she liked my melodies! I stop myself from falling on the floor and say I’ll find her on MySpace so we can keep in touch.

I come home to find an email from the station manager telling me that Bonnie McKee is going to be at the open mic and is also coming to the station the next day at 10:30 and if I want I can do the interview. I write back to tell him I saw her there and sure I could come in.

And that my friends, is the story of how I got to interview TWO redheaded piano divas in one week! Tune in Tuesday at 9am to listen to how they turned out! (That’ll be today for most of you reading this!) 100.1 in town, worldwide.

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