Stacey Allison Band
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Stacey Allison Band

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There are times in life, I find, when I am very conscious of and grateful for my own femaleness.
I am occasionally brought to this reflection by things like watching my male friends wrestle and punch each other for fun, or play video games together. And this past Tuesday it came to mind on what turned out to be a very estrogen-influenced evening at Bimini's, when I went out alone to enjoy a glass of wine and take in singer/guitarist Stacey Allison.

Allison was touted to me by Bimini's manager Jamie Sweeney as a rather new-to-Marco performer who rides a Harley to work and pumps out crowd-pleasing songs. The Naples-based singer actually has been performing in the area since 1994, when she moved down from Jacksonville to join the band Powerhouse and subsequently began playing with her own band at private functions and the occasional bar or restaurant.

Allison — with her Veronica Lake fall of blond hair over one eye and her sexy sequined black pants — shouldn't be pigeonholed as a chick rocker, though. Sure, you'll get many of the female-vocalist standards — Melissa Etheridge, Stevie Nicks, Annie Lennox. But her solo set at Bimini's also includes songs by Marvin Gaye, Todd Rundgren and John Mellencamp.

If I am honest, I have to admit to a lifelong bias toward male vocalists — I have no idea why, but of the CDs in my collection, I'd say a good 85 percent to 90 percent are men. I think I'm generally attracted to the power and depth of the male voice — and the female singers I tend to gravitate to are generally those with lower, bottom-heavy voices: Alanis Morissette, Tasmin Archer, Susan Tedeschi.

But where Allison impressed me despite myself was with her range and the control she wields over her voice. She can move from a throaty purr, like honey over gravel, to a glass-cracking falsetto — sometimes in the same song.

Though she accompanies the computer-generated music tracks she plays with her 12-string guitar, Allison cites singing as her first love, and in fact she never hits a false note.

She grinds out the scratchy soul of Etheridge's I'm the Only One, and counters it with Donna Summer's Last Dance, eking out some notes only dogs can hear.

But I especially enjoyed watching the audience members that night, and Allison's interaction with them. When four beautifully dressed party girls showed up and almost immediately took to the dance floor, Allison asked if they wanted more dance music. When they said yes, she took specific genre requests: "Disco or current stuff?" she asked. "Current stuff!" the two younger girls — in town celebrating their 16th birthdays — replied in unison, and Allison instantly obliged with Pink's Get the Party Started and Madonna's Music.

Between dance songs, over the microphone, Allison mentioned two visiting gentlemen from Charleston to the party of women, and suggested a merger for dance purposes. Overhearing a request from the bar area, she launched into Shania Twain. Basically, she wants the audience to have a good time, and she's happy to do whatever is required of her to ensure it.

And the crowd does have fun — and apparently not just the women. The men in the room were vocal, calling out approving feedback such as, "The Bangles! I love it!" and "Todd Rundgren in the house!" (These performers apparently have taken on some aura of retro cool.)

Allison is at her best when she's at her freest: With Martha and the Vandellas' Heat Wave, for instance; or in Mellencamp's Jack and Diane, when she gives the computer a welcome rest and simply strums out the melody on her guitar as she sings.
Allison plays mostly private gigs, but you can check her out every Tuesday at Bimini's from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., and find out about other appearances at her Web site, www.chicksinger.com. (And there's that "girl power" theme again!)

- Marco Island Eagle


Discography

Nights Are Better is Stacey's cd of mostly original music.

Photos

Bio

The musicians in The Stacey Allison Band all come together bringing their various styles and influences to the table, creating a unique blend of soulful, sometimes smooth, sometimes edgy music. Stacey is heavily influenced in her writing by Rickee Lee Jones and Sheryl Crow. Her vocal range is vast. Guy's strongest influences range from Stevie Ray Vaughn and the Allman Brothers to Robert Conti to Carlos Santana. Drummer Steve's musical strength lies in his finesse, bringing to mind the likes of Steve Gadd. Billy Caloyer, the band's keyboardist defies categorization, because he is as strong playing hip hop and soul as he is playing rock and roll, claiming to be most influenced by The Beatles. Bill Wiemer's musicianship and bass playing is as solid as it is understated. He plays all music with an ear to locking in with the other musicians to create a perfect blend on the bottom. Bill Wiemer's smooth voice reminds some of Jeffery Osborne, and he calls the Beatles and the Stones his biggest influences.