Lavay Smith & Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers — New Album on September 8, 2009
Lavay’s new record, Miss Smith to You, is set for release on September 8, 2009. And if you live in the San Francisco area, there is a release party scheduled for Saturday night, August 29, at Ashkenaz in Berkeley and two more next month.
While she appears regularly in the Bay Area & environs, I have had the pleasure of seeing her several times here on the east coast and, on one occasion after a gig, jazz clubbing with her steady/pianist/arranger Chris Siebert.
She has been called the Queen Of Classic Jazz & Blues in the authentic style of the 1940’s and 1950’s. But don’t let that hyperbole oversell you, she is as close as we can get to lovingly re-creating that fabulous era when jazz was the popular music and musicians actually knew how to play their instruments. And while she & the band are definitely having fun, they do so without a hint of camp, irony or self-indulgence.
While I have yet to listen to the new one, I highly recommend her first two, especially Everybody’s Talkin’ ‘Bout Miss Thing!
Check her out on her YouTube channel:
or, her site:
In the meantime, here’s a brief introduction:
Lavay Smith, vocalist and bandleader of the Red Hot Skillet Lickers, grew up in Southern California and the Phillipines. She has become an internationally recognized Diva of Jazz and Blues, with a singing style influenced by Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington, Bessie Smith, Little Esther Phillips and other legendary greats.
Lavay approaches her material from the standpoint of an independent woman, combining jazz singing and musicianship with oft times hilarious, provocative lyrics. Lavay’s musical stance is echoed in her real life role as owner of her own record label, Fat Note Records.
This sultry chanteuse evokes a sensuous era of Jazz queens and sexy pinups and adds a modern, feminist twist. No wonder Los Angeles Magazine chose her as one of the sexiest people around! Lavay first performed in 1989 and immediately began attracting crowds thanks to her big, bluesy voice, exciting stage personality, and glamorous approach. The band has become “a San Francisco Landmark”, winning numerous awards including a “Wammie” and a “Bammie”. In 1998, the reader’s of San Francisco’s two major newspapers, the Chronicle and the Examiner, voted Lavay Smith and Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers the “Best Band” in the annual readers poll.
Numerous publications have sung the praises of Lavay Smith and her band, including Downbeat, The Los Angeles Times, Jazziz, The Boston Globe, Blues Revue, The New York Press, Living Blues, and the Alternative Press (see attached pages for juicy quotes). Television and Radio appearances include Public Television’s “The News Hour with Jim Lehrer”and NPR’s “To The Best of Our Knowledge”.
Johnny Otis says “Lavay is wonderful! She and her band are a breath of fresh air.” Dan Aykroyd, a.k.a. Elwood Blues, says of Lavay’s debut album, “One Hour Mama”, “…this CD is guaranteed to make you feel better.”
When not touring throughout the United States, Canada, Europe and Japan Lavay and her band are showcased in the San Francisco Bay Area’s premier nightclubs, including, the Cafe du Nord, Biscuits & Blues, Jazz at Pearl’s, Ashkenaz, Rancho Nicasio, Kuumbwa Jazz Center and Moe’s Alley.
Lavay’s second record, “Everybody’s Talkin’ ‘Bout Miss Thing” (Fat Note Records) incorporates a variety of classic American musical styles, including swing, bebop, salsa, jump blues, and New Orleans R&B. Enlisting the arranging talents of David Berger, arranger for Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, the album includes six outstanding original tunes, many classics, and several obscure gems. Lavay and the band have produced an epic, best-selling album that is great for both dancing and listening. The album received a prestigious 4 & 1/2 Star review from Downbeat Magazine, and remained on the Billboard Jazz Charts for 20 straight weeks, reachng number 10.