Concert Sutra Finds A Little Happiness With Aimee Allen
by terri sapp
Photographs by Leah Yetter
© Concert Sutra, All Rights Reserved
Even though Leah and I were stuck at the door with Press hold ups, and conflicting start times, we could hear “Change In Weather,” one of my favorite songs from Aimee Allen’s recent album “A Little Happiness,” booming from the doors of the Variety Playhouse in Atlanta, Georgia. On August 12, 2009, Aimee Allen was the perfect choice to get the people going for the headlining act, Sugar Ray. When we finally made it to the stage, the band was playing “Crazy,” which is a great mix of Rock and Reggae. The harmonies between the band and Aimee were right on! The crowd was thin, but the band rocked it out. Jen Stone (from Nashville) played the keys and sang her heart out, and what a fine voice she has…the perfect companion for Aimee’s beautiful voice. Even though there were not as many people at the Variety Playhouse at this time of the night, you would never have known it from the performance given from these guys and gals. The people who missed this missed something quite special. Aimee Allen’s voice and style is an extremely appealing mix of rocker chick and chanteuse. Despite her troubles in life (a devastating break up with former boyfriend and band mate, weathering the music industry shuffle, and getting beaten within an inch of her life by gang members), she exudes positivity in her show, evidenced during the audience participation in “On Vacation.” One would have thought she was playing to a full house. Having Will from Atlanta on the bass did not hurt at all either. He was a hoot and a holler! We also had a special moment when Aimee (from Los Angeles) said, “Ya’ll” for the first time when she was so thrilled that we sang along, we got a “Thank ya’ll!” Adam White and Scott Russo (former boyfriend, of Unwritten Law and Scott and Aimee) are both from Indiana, making this group very “multi-cultural” as promised from our gorgeous front-woman. This is always an acceptable quality to bring to Atlanta!
Next on the set list came a Sublime favorite, “Santeria.” Aimee’s version started slowly, harmonic and melodic, then broke into the ska feel that was in the original version. What a fun cover song! Most of the “A Little Happiness” album has the reggae feel to it, which makes for the perfect beach record…tested and approved! After almost every band member pled with the folks in the seats to join us up front, they moved on to “Save Me,” which has a really clever and sincere set of lyrics. There are times when I am in an audience thinking that more people should be here, and those who aren’t are really missing something…this was one of those times. For the old school fans, as Aimee said, “all ya’ll,” “In The Sun,” from the 2002 album “I’d Start A Revolution,” offered the crowd an intimate glance at the passion behind the performer. And, of course, the night would not be complete without the title track from the new album, “A Little Happiness.” I love this song. I am always a sucker for a reggae beat, and as Aimee has been quoted saying, “Reggae always makes me happy,” but Aimee also brings lovely vocals and a positive message to brighten your night.
Please check out Leah’s fabulous photo gallery here, which in true form contains many very stunning photos of Aimee and her band: http://www.concertsutra.com/090812aimeeallencs/index.htmhttp://www.concertsutra.com/090812aimeeallencs/index.htm. We stuck around for a good part of the Sugar Ray portion of the show, which you can see here: http://www.concertsutra.com/090812sugarraycs/. Visit http://www.aimeeallen.com/ for more information on Aimee Allen, and to find her on all the social networks! After Aimee’s set, Leah and I were able to catch a quick few moments to talk with her about life on the road, her music career, and much more. Read all about it below.
Concert Sutra: Hi, Aimee! We had fun tonight! I heard you say in the lobby to someone that it was a smaller crowd than you guys are used to…
Concert Sutra: Well, I will say that the venue website said 8:00, because that is what we planned around with Leah here coming from Macon. We actually missed seeing Change In Weather, and only got to hear it from the door…
Aimee: That’s crazy, I don’t know why they started everyone so early…
Concert Sutra: We are just glad we made it when we did, because we were excited to see you after listening to your album! (Leah) Yeah, I went to the beach recently, and listened to it the entire time!
Aimee: (laughs) It is a good beach record! I’m glad you guys came. (gorgeous smile)
Concert Sutra: The first thing I wanted to ask is what are your earliest memories of being introduced to music in your life?
Aimee: Oh, wow, no one’s ever asked me that question before…the earliest memory…probably my Mom. She plays accordion, and as a small child, she would play Dean Martin songs, and Frank Sinatra songs on the accordion. I remember the whole family singing along and clapping. That would be my earliest memories. I just loved watching her play the accordion. She’s so awesome!
Concert Sutra: How cool! Is she still alive? Does she still play?
Aimee: Yeah. It’s awesome!
Concert Sutra: What or who was it that inspired you to get into music as a profession?
Concert Sutra: Good answer. We love Ani! Do you play any instruments?
Aimee: I play the guitar, and I write on the piano. I write on the guitar, too.
Concert Sutra: Is the tour with Sugar Ray the largest scale tour you have been involved in to date?
Aimee: I opened for Unwritten Law in their heyday. That was pretty big.
Concert Sutra: Your tour schedule looks pretty grueling! What are the ups and downs to being on the road?
Aimee: I’ve been doing a lot of morning shows, like this morning, I did Fox 5 Atlanta at 6 in the morning.
Concert Sutra: Yeah, my friend Ginger said she heard you this morning!
Aimee: Yeah, so I’ve been doing a lot of T.V. in the morning and shows at night. It’s hard to be a morning person when you’re not (laughs), but the energy of the crowds, and the people coming up and saying they love it really invigorates me and gives me the strength to keep going. You can get tired, but I guess…drink lots of water…listen to your Mom! (giggles)
Concert Sutra: Stay hydrated! How do you prepare for those appearances, like on T.V. and radio or whatever you are doing at the time?
Aimee: I pray….for strength…(smiles big)
Concert Sutra: Do you have any animals on the road with you or missing you back at home?
Aimee: I have a German Shepherd/Wolf dog.
Concert Sutra: Does it have the pretty blue eyes?
Aimee: No, beautiful brown eyes…my brown eyed girl! She’s four years old, and I’ve had her registered as a service dog, so she can go everywhere with me…movie theatres…dinner…tour…but she’s not on this tour because she had some surgery to her leg. It’s not a big surgery, just a little hot spot that needed to be lasered. So, she couldn’t come on tour now, but she will next time.
Concert Sutra: Has she been in the past?
Aimee: No, but she will in the future. I just had her registered as a service dog, so now she can do it!
Concert Sutra: Cool! Maybe we will meet her next time. (all laugh and coo) I am a recording geek in my own way, and I always feel compelled to ask about the recording process. Can you tell me about your process in making the studio album, “A Little Happiness?”
Aimee: I really wanted to make it about the song, and not about the production. I co-produced the album, so I was there every single step of the way. Because it was the first time I was producing myself, there was a lot of trial and error for me, and there was a lot of…putting on tracks…like putting on Hammond B-3’s…and Wurlitzer…and Ukulele…and shaker…and djembe…on every song, and then just going, OK, it’s about the song, it’s not about the production, so let’s mute half of it out. So, like, the songs were really big, and then I just started muting. So, there’s a lot of me trying every instrument on every track, and then going back and muting, and getting it down to the basics. So, that’s what I did, because I didn’t know…I mean, I knew I had limited studio time, and I didn’t have a perfect plan for every song, so I said alright, I’m putting piano on every song…Wurlitzer on every song…Hammond B-3 on every song…every percussion…I just recorded it all, and then I’m gonna go through and mute every track! And that’s what I did until I found the sound for that song that spoke to me.
Concert Sutra: Where did you record?
Aimee: I recorded in Indiana… (commotion on the sidewalk interrupts)
Concert Sutra: Well, alright! So, I understand that your style of music has shifted in recent times. What types of changes have you made, is it a permanent mood shift, and why the change of heart?
Aimee: Well, I could never commit to a permanent mood shift. I mean, I can barely stabilize myself every day! (laughs) Basically, some days…well, I did the punk rock, and rock and roll, recording cds for many years. And then, as you know, I got assaulted, and when I recorded this album, I wasn’t 100% physically, like, my jaw wasn’t 100%, my memory wasn’t 100%, my emotions, my spirit, so I did this album to heal things broken in me, even though I wasn’t 100%. I just thought, all I can do is music, and this might be my last album, only because I didn’t think…or, I didn’t know if my jaw was going to heal, and that I was ever going to be able to find that…get my spirit back, cause it kind of broke my spirit, that whole situation. So, I recorded this album, not only for myself, but in hopes…and it motivated me every day that maybe if I’m like this, then maybe other people like this, maybe the album can help in healing for them as well. So, I did this album for healing for me and for others. That’s where I was at when I recorded, and who knows where I’ll be at in the future!
Concert Sutra: That’s kind of my last question! Where do you see yourself going from here?
Aimee: I have no idea! People keep asking that, and I just don’t know! I know I’m going to keep writing, of course, and recording…keep writing songs, but, you know, life is a journey and sometimes…there’s a different season for every purpose…(laughs) Did I say that? Well, it’s true! There is a different in everyone’s life, you know, my life is made of seasons, and this is just one of them. The Rock thing was a season as well! I mean, I’m not going to do gospel… I know what I’m not going to do…I’m not going to do jazz… probably, if I were to guess, probably closer to the Violent Femmes (with the inflection of a question)…
Concert Sutra: (Leah) OOOO! (Terri) Nice! Well, we enjoyed talking with you!
Aimee: Yeah, thank you guys!
Concert Sutra: Let’s take a picture together!