Friday, January 21, 2005


Lisa digs isles

The singer wants
regular visits here

Lisa Loeb

Where: Hawaiian Hut, Ala Moana Hotel, 410 Atkinson Drive

When: 9 p.m. tomorrow

Tickets: $28, available online at honoluluboxoffice.com

Call: 550-8457

Info: www.lisaloeb.com

LOCAL FANS of Lisa Loeb can thank the Japanese and the Maui Music Festival for hastening the singer/songwriter's return to Hawaii. Before her June 2003 concert at Kaimuki High School, the last time she had performed on Oahu was in 1996 at the Nimitz Highway nightspot once known as The Groove.

But Loeb's popularity in Japan, coupled with her affinity for vacationing on the neighbor islands, means that she's in our neck of the woods pretty often, even though she broke up with boyfriend Dweezil Zappa (whose grandmother lives in Kailua) a year ago.

"I do travel to Japan (a lot), and I was traveling to Hawaii for vacation," she said by phone last week, just a few days before departing on a 10-day trip to Japan. "I'm trying to make (Hawaii) a regular thing."

And the Maui connection? She's participated in that island's annual music festival, and was impressed by the quality of musicians that reside both there and on Oahu.

"There are so many great musicians," said Loeb, who names John Cruz, Barry Flanagan and Owana Salazar when asked about noteworthy local artists she's seen perform. "It's fun to go there and play ... it's a whole different world."

BORN IN Texas, Loeb now resides with her cats in Los Angeles, where she remains busy with her recording career while also becoming more involved with the television business. Last year's "Dweezil and Lisa" combined music with cooking on the Food Network, but wasn't renewed after its initial 10-episode run.

"It was a lot of fun ... (and) included a couple of different things that mean so much to me -- cooking, food and playing music," she said about the show. "But it was very intense."

Lisa Loeb digs John Cruz, Barry Flanagan and Owana Salazar.

In addition to her busy touring schedule, Loeb also had to contend with cameras following her and Zappa both in front of audiences and behind the scenes. She describes the experience as a lot of work, but you can also hear the pride in her voice as she talks of how much she's absorbed from others and is using that knowledge to produce additional programming.

"I'm happy when I'm learning," she said.

AND AFTER jumping to a new label last year, Loeb is also learning that it's not the size of the company that's important when it comes to album sales, but its willingness to aggressively promote her work that matters the most.

Following 1995's "Tails" and 1997's "Firecracker," she left Geffen for Interscope, which released "Cake and Pie" in 2002. When Loeb realized that the bigger labels were leaving her hanging as they promoted other artists, she made the jump to Artemis Records, an independent that re-issued "Cake and Pie" as the Hello Kitty-themed "Hello Lisa" just eight months after its initial release.

"I thought that moving from a large label like Interscope to a smaller one like Artemis, they would be able to focus more on marketing the music that we were making," she said. "But small labels, as well as large labels, don't necessarily have the manpower to promote a record."

UNHAPPY with Artemis, Loeb signed with Zo‘ Records and released "The Way It Really Is" last August. She either wrote or co-wrote all of the tracks on the album, including one of the first that she and Zappa had collaborated on together.

Just as she did with "Stay," the 1994 breakout hit that garnered her the distinction of being the only independent artist to ever hold the number one position atop Billboard's Top 100 chart, "The Way It Really Is" draws the listener in with simple acoustic arrangements on songs like "Hand-Me-Downs," "Try" and "Would You Wander."

Others, like "Window Shopping," "I Control the Sun" and "Now I Understand," make use of electric guitar riffs that seem to have Zappa's name written all over them. Was producing the new album a type of cathartic exercise for Loeb?

"Not really," she said. "A lot of the songs were written years ago, so it's more prophetic than it was the story of a breakup."

Only one track, "Lucky Me," had been influenced by the end of the relationship.

"That was written towards the end of the making of the record, and we weren't broken up yet," explained Loeb. "But I felt like things were sort of coming to an end, and that song reflects that ... we were together for six years, and we weren't moving forward together."

BESIDES HER concert tomorrow night at the Hawaiian Hut, Loeb will play Sunday on Maui at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center before returning to L.A.

She also plans to tour the mainland, Canada and Europe while working on a sheet music book for "The Way It Really Is" and orchestral arrangements for future live performances.

And what about those glasses? Loeb still wears much of the same styles as she did more than a decade ago, but says she doesn't see them as a signature item in her wardrobe.

Almost nine years ago, Loeb told the Star-Bulletin that she wouldn't mind getting rid of them if there was "some scientific discovery" that allowed her to do so. The advent of laser eye surgery hasn't been able to help her yet, however.

"My eyes are very dry, and I'm not a great candidate for it," she said. "But I'm still very cynical ... I would hate to lose my vision!"

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