Lisa Loeb's latest CD, "Camp Lisa," celebrates the joy of kids' summer camp with a bunch of wonderful original songs and timeless classics like "Peanut Butter and Jelly" and the "Woodchuck" song.
It's Loeb's second kids' album, a sequel to the award-winning "Catch The Moon," released in 2004.
"Music was really important to me growing up, even music that was made for kids but didn't sound like it was for kids like Carol King's 'Really Rosie,' " she explains. "I wanted to do something like that, so I made a record with a college friend. People have been pressuring me to make another kids' record. I would be in parks or airports or grocery stores and parents and kids would be, 'when are you going to make another kids' record?' So I decided to make a summer camp songs record because that's the music I loved growing up. Summer camp was where I first played guitar in front of other people."
Lisa Loeb’s latest CD,?“Camp Lisa,” celebrates a favorite summer pastime.
Lono will once again jam to Mana‘o Radio’s annual Ho‘omana‘o benefit concert. See the group, along with a lineup of fellow local musicians, Sunday at the MACC’s Castle Theater.
TONY NOVACK-CLIFFORD photo
You don't have to be a kid to appreciate Loeb's gift for crafting catchy songs with broad appeal on "Camp Lisa."
"A good number of the originals were inspired by songs I grew up on, late '70s and early '80s soft adult rock like the Eagles," she continues. "I've learnt a lot about songwriting through the process of making kids' records. That it's important to tell a clear story and focus on the melody and things that you can sing along with."
Famous friends helping out on the record include James Taylor band bassist Lee Sklar, singer-songwriter Jill Sobule, Veruca Salt co-founder Nina Gordon, and actor/comedian Steve Martin, who contributes some expert banjo playing to the fun song "The Disappointing Pancake."
* WHO: Lisa Loeb with Gail Swanson opening
* WHERE: Castle Theater, Maui Arts &?Cultural Center
* WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
* TICKETS: $28, plus applicable fees; available at the MACC?box office, 242-7469 or www.mauiarts.org.
"I met him along the way and I called him up," she says of Martin's surprise guest spot. "When it came to the banjo playing on the song 'The Disappointing Pancake,' we thought who would be good on that and I came up with the idea of Steve Martin. Miraculously he called back and said he was interested."
In conjunction with the release of "Camp Lisa ," Loeb has launched the Camp Lisa Foundation, a nonprofit organization focused on raising funds to help send needy kids to summer camp.
"I really want to send kids to summer camp, so I'm giving the proceeds from the album sales to a foundation we started," she reports. "This year we hooked up with an organization called S.C.O.P.E., based in New York, that's set up to send underprivileged kids to camp."
Armed with a passion for music that has fueled her since her youngest years, Loeb was destined for stardom. Born in Dallas, she studied piano as a child and later switched to guitar.
Attending Brown University she studied music theory and played as a duo with her roommate. After college, she attended Boston's prestigious Berklee School of Music for one semester, and then formed a band in 1990, christened (in tribute to author J.D. Salinger) Nine Stories.
By 1994 Loeb hit the songwriting jackpot, becoming the first unsigned artist to top the American charts with her single "Stay (I Missed You)," from the soundtrack of the hit movie "Reality Bites." The song spent three weeks at the No. 1 spot soon after the film's release and eventually sold over 750,000 copies worldwide.
Unsigned to any record label at the time, Loeb's big break was aided by her college friendship with actor Ethan Hawke, who recommended her for the project. Loeb and her band subsequently earned a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Performance by a Group, and won a Brit Award for Best International Newcomer.
"It was a whirlwind," she recalls. "I didn't really have a manger and there were a lot of contracts that had to be made and it was hard to promote a single that was going to number one and at the same time do all the business before making the album. "Usually it's a process where you unplug from the world and go in the studio, but we had all the business to do and promotion as well as making a record."
Buoyed by the success of her hit single, Loeb's debut album "Tails" sold gold and earned another Grammy nomination, as did her followup "Firecracker," which included the Top 20 single "I Do."
Her third effort, "Cake and Pie," which featured collaborations with hit composer Glen Ballard, boyfriend (at the time) Dweezil Zappa, and country star Randy Scruggs, was rereleased in 2002 with three new songs under the title "Hello Lisa," featuring Sanrio's signature Hello Kitty artwork on the cover.
"The Very Best of Lisa Loeb" came out in 2006, and earlier this year she released the "Purple Tape," a reissue of her first recording from 1992. The double-disc set includes the 10 original tracks, plus interviews and live material.
Listening to her old songs, Loeb says she felt "proud because it reminded me of the whole process of becoming a professional musician. It was something I had been doing forever. The song 'Stay' was so popular, and for some people it came out of nowhere, but for me it was something I had been working up to. So it reminded me of all the work that went into it. On the other hand it was from a specific time and I'm not exactly there any more, so it was important to do an additional CD with interviews about the songwriting process, contextualizing it."
Besides the music world, Loeb has acted in movies and been involved in various TV projects including cartoon voice work, a Food Network show "Dweezil & Lisa," with Dweezil Zappa, and most recently, a reality TV show, #1 Single on E!, where viewers followed her quest to find the man of her dreams. She didn't.
"Initially I wasn't interested in doing a reality show, it sounded like a stupid idea," she reports. "But then I was attracted because I was going to be one of the producers and I was going to be able to share my story with other people. I really value telling my story and hearing other people's stories. I felt it was going to be a way to connect people with what was going on in my life. I know a lot of other people were going through the same thing, women in their 30s trying to balance career and relationship, and the ups and downs. Because I was one of the producers I was able to control what was shot."
Working on a "grown-ups" record for release next year, Loeb's currently touring performing daytime shows for kids and nights for adults.
Returning to Maui for a show on Saturday evening, Loeb is looking forward to spending time on our island and teaming with fellow musician Gail Swanson.
"I love spending time on Maui," she says. "I was thinking I really want to go to Hawaii, I have to call some friends, and literally the next day Gail e-mailed me, 'I'm working on a song, do you want to work on it with me, come to Hawaii.' "
Loeb performs at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center's Castle Theater. Swanson will open the show. Tickets are $28, plus applicable fees; available at the MACC?box office, 242-7469 or www.mauiarts.org.
Mana'o Radio's annual Ho'omana'o benefit concert will bring together many of our finest to perform in the Castle Theater on Sunday beginning at 4 p.m. The lineup gathering to help raise funds to support Maui's hippest (all-volunteer, commercial-free) radio station includes Willie K, George Kahumoku Jr., Eric Gilliom, Ola Hou (featuring Kevin, Sheldon and Ikaika Brown), Lono, Molokai's Eddie Tanaka with Vince Esquire and Uncle Don Lopez, Kamakakehau and emcee Kathy "Tita" Collins. Sounds like a great show. Tickets are $10, $25, and $35.