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 I had the fortune of meeting Allye Ratledge thanks to a friend's connection.  The story I heard was:  there's a new singer in town, looking around and checking out the scene.  Now, this is not an unusual thing.   Musicians with a gig are often are approached by seekers and desperadoes who want in on it.


Understand something:  in the musical community everyone is hustling themselves, networking and trying to scrape a little coin while waiting for the big bang.  You can't give too much shrift to players that you stumble across.  Sometimes they talk a mighty talk but the truth is that they just don't have anything to back it up. This is the music and entertainment world. 

It ain't science, it ain't math, it's nothing like banking, real estate or any normal vocation.  It's tough to measure a stranger's ability and experience by simply talking with them or even by their reputation.  Some folks manage to survive and even succeed in this trade with no talent and nothing but bluster and hustle.  Of course it helps to have good looks. :)  


So you see, an old piano man like me gets jaded.  And tired of being patient and nice with hucksters and wanna-bees.


So, I'm told to expect a call from this singer lady.  "And, uh, is it ok if she sits in with your band?"   Hmmm.  I'm saying "ok" but sarcastically holding out each syllable in my mind (you know, "ooooo-kaaaaay").  This is probably another hustler-bustler who either wants my gig or can't sing her way out of a paper bag.   Or both. 

Most of these hangers-on and drive-bys aren't up to my particularly high standards of pitch, clarity, range, material and style.    I play JAZZ mind you.   Best case scenario here is that she turns out to be an amateur that's only slightly embarrassing to have on stage.  Worst case, a disaster that's too drunk to know when to get off the bandstand and ends up getting us all fired. 

Plus, we don't need this... we already have a singer. 

Yes, that's right, ME.  


But I am a pro.  This is a part of the gig.  I do a quick mental shift and attempt to move my attitude over closer to:  


"Hey, she's like everyone else, we're all doing our best, just trying to do what we love, maybe getting noticed, maybe pick up a gig, what the heck.....   it's all good."  

Yup.

 

Indeed the phone did ring in short order.  I can do this next part in my sleep.  "Well, Ms. Ratledge, thank you so much for calling" (yeah that's right Ms. Sight Unseen, Ms. Dreamin'-the Dream).  "We'd be delighted to have you sit in with the group" (we'll tear you to shreds), "perhaps on two or three songs" (umm make that maybe one.  Two?  Don't hold your breath.)

 

"So Miss Allye, why don't you come down to Canyon's Edge Wine Bar this Saturday" (if you dare) "and we'll be delighted to have you join us" (yeah, you can witness first hand the unmasking of your poser self!).

 

Fast forward to that Sat.  The bar is slow tonight.  The gig is quiet, way too quiet.  The band is nervous, we are reaching the critical divide, the show's point of no return.  This place better pick up fast or we're toast.  We won't make squat for money and the club owner will blame us.


Allye Ratledge arrives right at the top of the second set.  She's gorgeous, dressed to kill and sporting a surly body guard on one arm.  I'm thinking whoa!   This could be trouble.  She doesn't comport herself like a fakir. She looks the part.  Could this be real? But no, I knock that thinking off quick. No way!  Let's do what we gotta do and get it over with.  Show us what you got sweetie.

"Folks, it's a pleasure to introduce you to a brand new talent here in the Tri Cities.  All the way from Austin Texas, here for your exclusive listening pleasure.  Please give a big Kennewick welcome to Miss Allye Ratledge!"

The sax player smirks.


Out of nowhere a few people start clapping.  I pull a real tough jazz standard out of the book.  "Somewhere Over the Rainbow".  It's in a horrible key, Eb, the worst.  Way too high for most singers.  Not a song for the feeble voiced.  I almost felt guilty.  Oh well.  I do a slow, pensive but inviting intro. Take it sweetie.

She sang.  The rest is history.
 


It is behind us and yet is still with me in the sense that I was altered forever and for the better. 

 

Allye of course revealed who she was that Saturday night.. A dynamite performer, a relentless worker, a pure professional, and a singer's singer.  A voice that effortlessly melts steel but gently pulls on heartstrings that you didn't know you had.  Over the Rainbow went down beautifully and deliciously, like a hot knife slowly passing through a cube of butter.

Thus I began a musical journey with Allye. 


We sang, we recorded, we did a record, we gigged all over the Pacific Northwest.  I don't know exactly how many shows it was 150 plus for sure.

Each and every one was a blast.


Allye wowed festival audiences and blew away the nightclubs and wine bars.  For me as an artist I found myself feeling remade after I began working with her.  I had the pleasure of spending a concentrated year and half with her on the team.

Then life called and sadly it was time for us to part ways and move on.

I am so fortunate to have experienced her youthful enthusiasm, her eagerness to learn, willingness to do the work, her artistic curiosity and her purity of character.  She puts forth a captivating stage presence and a sincere, warm and inclusive rapport with audience and band.  A voice that demands your attention, dominates the room and fills the soul and has a heart of gold.

That's my Miss Allye story.

 

Written by John Farey

www.BluestoneRecording.com

 

       

 

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 Here's a clip of my early days with Bluestone.  This was one of my first gigs with John and the original Sax Player, Greg Miner singing the song "Over the Rainbow." 

Comments

margaret July 30, 2013 @03:40 am
 

she is simply the best.always gracious,promoting other musicians,withouy an agenda.mostly i will always love the way she taught me to b comfortable in my own skin.thxs. for real joy.still cry every time i listen to bluestone cd.lov u

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