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Friday, June 6, 2003



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[ WEEKEND ]



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CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM



Back where
she started

Loeb renews connection
with her isle audience




Lisa talks story

An evening of stories and song with Lisa Loeb

Where: Kaimuki High School Theatre

When: 7:30 p.m. tomorrow

Tickets: $20 advance, $25 day of show

Call: 732-6699


It's the "new and improved" Lisa Loeb. Not only does she still have that sweet and sensitive demeanor that helped make her 1994 song "Stay (I Missed You)" a hit (and a staple on the all-female Lilith Fair tours subsequent to that), but she now slices, dices and juliennes!

The bespectacled Ms. Loeb will, along with her boyfriend and musical accompanist Dweezil Zappa, be hosting an upcoming Food Network series scheduled for January 2004, with the working title of "The Dweezil and Lisa Show."

In the meantime, she and Zappa continue to tour as a duo, and after spending time on Kauai this week to participate in the island's music festival as guest performers and teachers to neophyte songwriters, the couple will arrive here in Honolulu to perform an evening of story and song, with guest Barry Flanagan.

Loeb's canny inclusion of her love of food with her musicianship started with a promotional tour for her "Cake and Pie" album, which has been re-released on the independent Artemis label as "Hello Lisa," with some new songs and re-sequenced tracks.

"We would have a guest chef actually make and bake a pie on stage during our sets," Loeb said, "so it was basically a food demo with music. After the pie was done, we would later give out pieces of it to the audience to eat."

From that sprang the idea of doing a TV food show.

art
CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM



"At this time of my career, I have to keep being creative because it's important these days to always have fresh ideas," she said. "We've had meetings with the network folk, and we want the show to include music, travel and food -- how to cook it, both in the home and how professional chefs prepare dishes.

"Dweezil's grandmother, who lives here in Kailua, makes a special grapefruit cake that Dweezil just loves, and we plan to tape a segment with her while we're here that will be in one of the 10 episodes that we'll do for the series. One of the other segments we'll be doing is with my mother back in my hometown of Dallas, where she'll teach Dweezil how to cook some of the comfort food I grew up with."

When you include the occasional acting gig (Loeb had a bit part in the remake of "House on Haunted Hill" and plans to do a small film later this summer) and working on a new record for release early next year, Loeb always keeps her plate full. Yet she's able to compartmentalize the business aspect of her career, so it doesn't interfere with her ability to write music.

"Everyone has their ups and downs in their careers," she said, "but in living through them, you gain some degree of perspective about your life. So long as I remember that I'm a singer-songwriter first and foremost, I'll be all right."

OVER THE YEARS, she's been fairly successful in keeping a steady profile in the music biz -- long after her former Greenwich Village, New York, neighbor Ethan Hawke helped get "Stay" included in the soundtrack of his film "Reality Bites."

At the time, the coffeehouse musician didn't even have a recording contract.

Subsequent albums -- "Tails" (1995) and "Firecracker" (1997) -- kept her voice in the public, but it took five years before her next album came out.

"Cake and Pie" was originally on Geffen, which started off as a boutique label before it became part of the Universal Music conglomerate. The process of dealing with the label, including a lack of sufficient promotional push, left Loeb frustrated until she signed with Artemis last September.

She and Zappa reworked "Cake and Pie," deleting some songs and adding new ones: "What Am I Supposed to Say," written with Randy Scruggs, and "Did That" and "Take Me Back."

Loeb said the album's single, 'Underdog,' "can also been seen as a music video on my Web site, and it plays occasionally on VH-1 and in-store services like Macy's. It's a low-budget thing that Dweezil and I directed in my kitchen, and in it, Hello Kitty comes to life.

"I've loved Hello Kitty ever since she came to the States in the late '80s," Loeb confesses. "I worked with Sanrio's San Francisco-based office with my versions of the new album cover that included Hello Kitty, and they helped with the final design.

"I was just in Japan, and I got to meet one of her original designers at the Sanrio headquarters. It was like meeting Willy Wonka!" (The Hello Kitty store in Ala Moana Center is helping sell tickets to Loeb's concert and anyone who buys tickets there will receive a special Hello Kitty gift.)

IT'S OBVIOUS THAT Loeb's kept a level head about her career and her music.

"All in all, it's been a good life experience," she said. "I've been able to keep friends and family through it all, and the success of 'Stay' has given me the opportunity to travel."

She also enjoys the freedom of going wherever her musings take her. The way her concerts vary each night is a good example.

"My final night in Japan ended up being an impromptu question-and-answer session, with the help of a translator. I like being able to feel free to do what I want to do on stage. Sometimes, though, like the time I played with an orchestra in Philadelphia, I felt I had to enunciate and use whole sentences because of the older crowd."

In reintroducing herself to a local audience who hasn't seen her perform since 1995, Loeb remains undaunted.

"It's like how I started (in New York), when I didn't have a record out. While I know that some people in the audience will just be happy so long as I did 'Stay,' if the rest of them are with me for the evening, we'll have a good time together."



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