VC Buzz Magazine Feb 2012 Featured Artist
How did you first fall in love with music and when did you discover your song writing ability? Some of my earliest childhood memories are singing, sandwiched between my two older brothers in the back seat of our station wagon, which we called the “battlewagon”. We did lots of camping back then and I guess that’s when I fell in love with music, out there on the road. This was in the mid 1970’s, before the days of electronic gadgets and portable, personal music, so we relied on ourselves and somehow, we managed to stay amused. As soon as I was old enough, I started loving music, especially Motown artists like the young Michael Jackson, Diana Ross and country artists like Crystal Gayle, spinning my vinyl records over and over, singing along with the lyrics on the album art. I was involved in some theater ensembles and a dance troupe where I was performing at Disneyland and Universal Studios, but it wasn’t until I got my first guitar at about 20 years old that I got into playing music in the sense that I’m involved with it now. I was in community college up in Humboldt County; a kind neighbor gave me this cool, free guitar that I took to a musician friend from math class, begging him to teach me some chords and songs to practice, which he did. That’s when my relationship to guitar started and voice finally found accompaniment. I’d had a bit of piano training but since the guitar can roll with me, it was always traveling to festivals and dead shows in a handful of old school buses and VW’s. I think my friends heard “Me & Bobby McGee” about a hundred times those first few weeks, but like good sports, they all sang along each time anyway. Soon after that joined my first band called Full Sun out of Arcata playing tambourine and singing back up. I’d made some half-baked attempts at songwriting, but it wasn’t until I moved back to Ventura County that I wrote the first, complete original “Days of ‘49”. By then I’d gained some proficiency with my instrument and somehow had figured out what it was that I wanted to say, and what I didn’t.
You are a hard working musician, and have spent a lot of time on the road in your 35 foot bus “Patience”. How did your bus get her name? What advice would you give to other musicians who are touring on the road? Well, she started out as “Louise”, a 1971 GMC school bus that I bought back in 2000 from some kids in Pennsylvania. I was living in Upper Ojai in a converted mule barn with my dogs and chickens, just about to release “Lucky Like Me and I threw a rod in the engine which meant it needed to be replaced. Then, of course, I’d have to switch out the transmission and the rear end as well which meant major overhaul. My longtime friend and occasional co-writer Lisbet Frey, co-founder of Ventura’s Green Art People, has an incredible knack for phrases, titles and names, insisted that it was time that “Louise” was officially changed to “Patience”. Indeed. As of today, I’ve traveled over 25,000 miles all over the western US and went as far east as Arkansas in my 2010 fall tour. As Bonnie Raitt puts it, “The road’s my middle name”. My best piece of advice for touring artists is, don’t forget to enjoy the ride. I drive my own bus, literally and figuratively and I have always done all my own booking so you can bet that my tours are amazing! I see lots of National Parks and make sure I have time to rest when I need it and play when I want it. I’m just happier when I’m not under the gun of some nonsense schedule. I’ve done about 8 national tours and even toured internationally to Japan and Belize over the past 12 years that I’ve been working professionally. I love to travel and music is my vehicle, proving to be the true universal language, opening doors for me like I don’t think anything else could.
Many of your songs are full of characters and illustrate stories from different eras, they are enjoyable to listen to because your audience really connects personally to the message your music conveys through those characters, are any characters in your song inspired by people you have encountered on tour? Most of the characters are loosely inspired by real people that I’ve met somewhere at sometime in my life or characters from the pages of history. I have a real lust for history and always enjoy historical fiction in books, movies and music. I am also always down for a story song, I just really love to bring color to characters like Sideshow Sam because we all can think of a character like him, “Everything about him seemed dark and mean but he was smiling anyway”. You can picture this guy right? I love vivid imagery, part of what I love about the work of Bob Dylan; he was a master at painting pictures with song.
What was your inspiration behind the song Days of 49’ and why did you decide to write it? I took a history of California class at Ventura College, just to complete requirements for my bachelor’s degree after leaving Humboldt State a semester early and it was a film we watched in class one night that just turned me on to writing about what the rush to gold country was really like for the men and women who braved the wild west. It was a difficult time of hardship, broken dreams and courage, I wanted to tell the story and bring it to life in a real way.
Rachel you have been diagnosed with MS and have organized Ventura’s ASA (Americans for safe access), can you explain your journey and how important the organization is to you? It started with vision loss in 2002 which is usually a tell tale sign of MS but as I have relapsing-remitting MS, I regained my vision and went back to life as normal. After another loss of vision in 2005 and an exhaustive barrage of tests, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in Feb. 2006, while planning my first major national tour in “Patience” that started in May. Today, as I compare my current condition to those with the same diagnosis, I know that I am really lucky to be as well as I am. I think I try not to let it become too big in the grand scheme of my life; I’m just too busy with other things. I certainly have good and bad days, but I honestly feel it’s the fact that I’ve been a regular pot smoker for over 20 years that has made such a difference in my overall health. I have been a marijuana proponent and activist for many years and research has shown that cannabinoids help to suppress the attacks that can cause permanent, disabling nerve damage that is such a major cause of mobility and cognitive skills for patients with neurological disease. I have started a local Ventura Chapter of Americans for Safe Access, the largest, national, grassroots medical cannabis organization to help us educate, clarify and protect the rights of law-abiding, conscious adults to choose to use medical marijuana. I have had huge support from all kinds of different people in my community because this is an issue that transcends politics, social status and religion.
You have a number of talents that keep you busy, from crafting, to your bazaars, to Steve your beautiful dog that you recently rescued, and all of your music projects and gigs, it is now rumored that you have a man in your life who is also a well know musician from the band Bass Ackwards (Jack King) have you two considered doing any collaborating on a project? (smile) Yep, the cat’s out of the bag! It’s true; I have an amazing dog named Steve who I adopted from the National Search Dog Foundation. He is well on his way to earning his keep as my certified service dog and although he’s been a 65 lb handful, he is really a joy and very smart. As for the other rumor? Also true; I’m happy to say that I have found an incredible partner in Jack, who I’d known for several years through the local music scene. It’s that same old song about falling in love with the roommate and I’ve gotta tell you, I’m really loving our song so far. I feel like I waited a lifetime to find a man like him and was starting to think it just might not be in the cards. I even wrote a song called “Dear Love” when I was feeling especially hopeless when it came to love. For some reason I had I had real draw for unavailable men for a long time. I guess it just had to be right; I was never one for forcing the issue. So I’m feeling really fulfilled, grateful and pretty balanced these days. These days I’m working on making some space for him amongst my big dog Steve, balls of hemp twine, thousands of beads, a couple sewing machines and several of my Luna guitars, but he is patient, he also loves my cooking so that helps. Suddenly the future holds all this promise and we’ve been busy making all sorts of plans. We’ve been having a great time working together in the studio getting some of my unreleased stuff recorded and putting our talents together in some brand new songs.
What’s coming up for you this new year, and where can we see you perform? Been playing as a 4 or 5 piece band that I call “Scarlet Fire” quite a bit this last year so I’m looking to doing more in that format along with my more intimate house concerts and acoustic sets. Planning to release another album later in the year that will include a couple of my favorite new originals “Time Well Spent” and “Old Soul”. I’d love to get over to Europe with a new album in hand and of course I always miss the roads that take me all over this beautiful country. For now, the bus is parked and needs some transmission work so no plans to hit the road again just yet, other than a trip to Utah in April on a plane to play a couple house concerts there. I have some upcoming shows close to home here in Ventura County including a big show opening for The Maykers at Crave Lounge in Ventura as part of the revived thursday music scene by Mos Higha Productions, a residency on the third Sundays at Big Buddha Lounge in Oak View and a show at The Lab Brewing Company, the brand new home for music and microbrew in Agoura Hills. So for now, I am just enjoying time at home in Ventura where my muse visits, my garden grows and my love blossoms. My complete tour schedule is posted at www.rachelsedacca.com
Victory Music - "Lucky Like Me" sits comfortably with its feet between genres, content simply to be good music. Although I would have to call it country, it lacks the twang, the cowboy aesthetic and the tired themes of mainstream country music. Sedacca has a powerful, beautiful voice and guitar, and brings in occasional harmonica, Dobro, bass and drums, depending upon the sound she is aiming for. There is a certain Indigo Girls quality in her voice and her playing, and also in the diversity of the subject matter of her songs. This album has seven original songs plus two covers, including Bob Dylan's “Forever Young.” The lyrics are simple and moving, and steer clear of melancholy or hyperbole. Excellent.
Standing on the Shoulders of Giants Part 4, Rachel Sedacca
Lucky Like Me
by Philip Scott Wikel
“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
- Isaac Newton, letter to Robert Hooke, 1676
I asked Rachel: What did you want to be when you grew up? To which she answers, without hesitation, and with a cool confidence. “I wanted to be an actress.” And I could see her as a young girl dressing up in mommy’s clothes and sporting a feather boa smiling and dancing in front of a mirror. “I went to Humboldt State,” she continues, “and graduated with an art degree…” Her eyes are flashing and she moves seamlessly through to “I was a ceramicist at one point and even had my own kiln until it fell out of the back of my truck.” With this divine intervention the logical next step was music.
She picked up a guitar in 1994 and started playing backup with a band called Full Sun. She’s since come to Ojai where she began playing locally with Calliope about five years ago which included Topher Blunt and Charlie Benton. In her five years here she’s found the hidden angel within and began singing and writing songs. The folksy blues-ish, countrified levity offered by her first album “Lucky Like Me” is a testament to the emergence of a new and unique voice in music. “Recorded at Ventura’s own Table Top Recording, co-produced by Rachel and Jonathan Raffetto, it features the talent of some of the best musicians of Ventura’s music scene.”*
As I sat captively in the open space of the Ojai Brew Pub, I felt the rush of nostalgia channeling through her…Patsy Cline… Petula Clark… and then closer to now with sparks of Nancy Griffiths and Margo Timmons. She has that timeless and sweet, laughing quality to her voice that comforts the soul and takes the mind on a soft and syrupy vicarious journey into stories that are wholly hers; her family, her loves, her hopes, offering them in such a way that they become ours to share. Her spirit moves about the room and lights on the faces of her listeners.
This said, neither Petula nor Patsy would have ever sported a “Narcotics Officer” hat nor donned the groovy hoop earrings she wore on Saturday night. Rachel’s that 21st century brand of female with a confidence that drives all men to make room for the fullness of woman. As she covers one of her favorite songs by Roly Salley, she makes it her own and poignantly declares, that she’s “swinging the world by its tail.”
Defining herself further, she proclaims, In “Monday Night Girlfriend,” “Everybody’s got an opinion/not me. Everybody wants dominion/not me. Stories and philosophies, tangents and convictions/not me. Write it on a bumper sticker/then go sell it for a dollar.” She’s not going to let us out of this one easily. She is who she is and that’s that. Rachel’s got more than “three chords” and a whole lot more of the truth.
Citing her influences as being Bonnie Raitt, Shawn Colvin, Bob Dylan and the Grateful Dead, if you add the few I’ve mentioned, you’ll begin to see she’s quite a metamorphosis. And when you hear “You should want to write about me, I’ve got a school bus named ‘Louise’ and I’m going on tour,” you can’t deny her confidence and that, while Rachel’s part of a great tradition, she’s a powerful force in her own right.
On the B-side, or perhaps, the A-side of this is a sweet invitation in the title song of her album “Lucky Like Me.” In it she sings “And things don’t come easy darling/They don’t come free. But you could be lucky like me/Lucky like me/You can be lucky like me.”One of my personal favorites of the evenings, not available on the CD is Zachary’s Dream. While I’m a sucker for any use of the mandolin, its employment in this song brought me back and forward at the same time. Its brightness brought me back to the Renaissance and then forward with the hope of bringing that brightness into my own dreams. Rachel’s music does that to you and that’s the power of good music.
Check out the original blog here
Victory Music CD Review July 2010
Coming to you from the back of her 1970’s school bus (rebuilt engine) this bundle of energy belts one out from the stage with that infectious smile. Rachel is an expert at the ‘Wheel of Fortune’ game while she listens to those antique radio shows we (some of us) grew up with (Lone Ranger, etc). This California girl is truly
on the road. We saw her the other evening at our own Q Café gathering with a stolen, youthful, very good guitar guru. Her songs are personal, confessional “..Falling in love with the highway, I could never stay away. It’s all about having patience…” ‘Paper Roses’ is a hopeful love song “paper roses never die…” Rachel is thoughtful on Dylan and solid on her slower rendition of the Grateful Dead’s ‘New Speedway Boogie.’ I’m betting ‘Before I’m Old’ captures a bit of her inner spirit — for the moment “I never found a box I could fit inside…” My favorite is ‘Fine to be Small’ written by her friend, Lisbet Frey. Rachel Sedacca is out there doing the music scene the rest of us just dream about. Catch her and her fine show somewhere local before she fires up that bus. [J.W. McClure]
Yes, confirms Rachel Sedacca, she really did write a song about the gold rush and the Oregon Trail. Inspired by a movie she'd seen, Rachel penned the tune in 1998 and it went on to win awards from American Songwriter magazine. The California singer and songwriter took up guitar after receiving one as a gift from a neighbor and is largely self-taught.
Since launching her professional career in 2000, Rachel has traveled as far afield as Japan to perform. Her first album hit the airwaves in 2001, introducing fans to Rachel's versatile style and evolving songwriting skill. The artist names among her influences and inspirations the incomparable Bonnie Raitt, Patty Griffin, Shawn Colvin and the Grateful Dead.
|As if her musical ability wasn't impressive enough, Rachel is one of the few performers who has successfully taken the business end of her career in hand, as well. She's booked and managed solo tours for herself, mastering the challenges of marketing, promotion and logistics, while also charming audiences. In addition to her two-week stint in Japan, she has traveled extensively in the U.S. Look for her on the road in the converted school bus she dubbed "Patience."
With new CD and tuned-up bus, Sedacca's ready to hit the road
Few mistake Billy O's in Ventura for a bus stop, but that may be the case Saturday night when Rachel Sedacca alights from her 1971 GMC school bus, making a scheduled layover long enough to host a CD party for her latest, "Patience Pays."
Sedacca's bus connection is more than a title — she lives in one. So when she tours, there's no packing, no unpacking and no Bates Motel scenarios. Also, there's no rent (but obvious gas issues) for this strong-willed, independent young lady having a blast.
For Saturday's gig, Sedacca will be ably supported by several of the best local musicians. The album is good, too — always a plus. In addition to her originals, she covers Bob Dylan and Grateful Dead songs. When the gig is over, another will begin: a band scramble featuring all the musicians doing their jam-band thing.
The show is $20, which includes a signed copy of the CD plus dinner. Cocktail attire is suggested.
The Oxnard-based bus babe discussed the latest during a recent e-mail exchange.
Does patience really pay or is it a sign of a weak mind?
Patience is crucial for me. I've always been a "now" type of kid, so it's been a real exercise in perseverance to build a music career from scratch over the past 10 years. As an independent musician, I've worn every hat there is from booking agent to sound guy, wardrobe to bus driver, artist to tour bus mechanic. Without my foundation of patience, I'd have given up or gone crazy years ago.
What's your take on the new album?
This is an album I have dreamed of for years. Had it not taken as long as it did, it wouldn't have included some of my favorite new songs or tell the complete story. The title track, "Patience Pays," tells of the Young & Beautiful tour in the spring/summer of 2006, my trip as a solitary vagabond and the 5,600-mile journey around the Wild West. The first track, "Wheel of Fortune," tells of this crazy dream and how it's like playing my favorite game, "Wheel of Fortune," every time I stick my neck out.
Clearly, a bunch of rock stars have helped out.
This album has an all-star cast of characters — accomplished artists in their own right. Producer Steve Temmel has been my right-hand man on stage for several years now. He's the lead guitar, Dobro and kitchen sink of the project. Danny Wilson played the mandolin on my first album, "Lucky Like Me," in 2001 and I'm happy to have him work on this album. Mark Parson's amazing work on the fiddle takes the songs to a different level. "Your Best Friend," a song written for my brother Dave, is especially sweet with the fiddle parts. Hippie Mark graces the album with his famous harmonica work and the best kazoo solo I think to be recorded west of the Mississippi.
Why cocktail attire for the party?
It's so rare that we all get to dress up, I thought it'd be fun to break out the sparkles and feathers. I want the night to be special, not just another gig. I have worked so hard to get where I am now, I suppose it warrants the dress duds.
What's up with the jam-band scramble on Saturday?
With so many of my friends being musicians, I thought it'd be sort of weird to have another whole band come in when we're all already there! I thought it'd be a great opportunity to showcase some of my talented peers; it's how our circle grows ever bigger. Many of my friends will be there alone or with parts of their band; many are already friends and it'll give 'em a chance to scramble it up and play together just for fun!
How'd you choose that cool Bob song to cover?
I covered Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" on this album because it's such a great song. Bob's brand of sarcasm has always struck me as so insightful. I think most people can relate to the sentiment of the song.
Oil is $100 a barrel and gas is almost $4 a gallon, so how's the giant bus thing working out?
It's not just my mode of transport; it's also my home. I can't be touring nationally and living out of a suitcase. My bus has my own mattress, a full kitchen, a bathroom and even a front room where I can entertain guests. It keeps me grounded, always being able to go "home" to the bus. I couldn't imagine doing what I do out of a car or something. I know I'm not saving money, but I don't have lodging expenses and I make my own meals in the bus. I come from a long line of bus folks; it's been part of my education as a traveler and vagabond. I'd get on our family school buses to Grateful Dead shows and music festivals when I lived in Humboldt. I had some of the best times of my life on tour with my friends Lee and Cassie in their bus, The Cramalot Inn, out of Chico. Believe me, we did cram 12 people and two dogs aboard. During that time that I was totin' around my first guitars, scribbling down lyrics and chords. This is how I built my repertoire. Now I've got two albums and new juice to hit the road. I'll have the bus at the CD release party to show it off.
You have a reliable mechanic, I would assume?
The guys at HJK Performance in Santa Paula put this engine in, and I've made it 5,600 miles without any major problems, so I'd call that reliable! Since we changed out the engine, transmission and rear end, the bus has run like a champ. I'm not saying it's without problems, but they're mostly minor things that I learn about as I go. It takes us back to the patience thing. If I melt down and lose it every time something happens with the bus, I would have given up long ago. I've learned so much from having a bus, mostly about patience and perspective.
When you tour, do you take the bus, or does it take you?
Both! Definitely a symbiotic relationship. She keeps me grounded and somewhat organized, and gets lots of love and attention from people who get a peek inside.
What have you learned on the road?
Well, I learned how to tighten my alternator belts, and how to change out all the belts on the side of the road. And the dust that collects under a school bus can turn to mud during the rain, which acts like glue to a throttle cable and gives you a great runaway bus story.
How does a single DIY artist survive in the music biz?
Still figuring that out. I guess it's like dealing with anything — with patience and one day at a time.
And Rachel music sounds like?
Groovy, bluesy folkabilly. I've been told I have a very unique quality to my voice and I have to agree. My influences are Bonnie Raitt, Alison Krauss, Nancy Wilson and of course Janis (Joplin). But I don't think I necessarily sound like them. I've heard Natalie Merchant.
And the grand master plan is ?
See the world! I'm booking dates for the "Patience Pays" Northwest fall tour right now. Starting off at the Strawberry Music Festival in Yosemite on Labor Day, I'm going up through Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana, then through Yellowstone to Jackson Hole. I plan to wind up in Phoenix for the Folk Alliance Regional conference at the end of October. I'd like to return to Japan. I headlined a country music festival and some other events there in 2003 and it was a blast. Maybe next year?
— E-mail music writer Bill Locey at email@example.com.
Rachel Sedacca lights up Coffee Gallery Backstage
By John Sollenberger
Everybody has to start somewhere. In the case of Ventura-based singer-songwriter/guitarist Rachel Sedacca, that place was her family's home. At an early age, she says that her older brothers would work lights from the stairway while Mom, Dad and the dog provided an audience.
Fast forward a few years, and the venues have improved considerably, as her upcoming Sunday night gig at Coffee Gallery Backstage will affirm. Sedacca took her initial instrumental training on piano, but eventually gave that up in favor of guitar. “Guitars are much easier to carry than a piano, after all,” she points out. All the while, she was honing her vocal skills, taking cues from Motown and country tunes. She started out playing with the Arcata, Calif.-based electric rock band Full Sun, singing lead and backup harmony.
Influenced by the likes of Bonnie Raitt and inspired by years of Grateful Dead shows, she gradually developed her own style. Nowadays, her repertoire consists of folksy ballads and bluesy country songs, all infused with an upbeat sense of humor nurtured by time on the road. No dark moodiness here.
That road has proven to be a long one; she's toured all over the West, from California to Utah and back, playing clubs and festivals big and small. By creating Internet buzz, she even landed a gig in Japan, to a highly positive response. Sunday night's show, where she'll be joined by Steve Temmel on guitar and vocals, promises to be a ton of fun.
Sedacca's CD, “Lucky Like Me,” is available at CDBaby.com and record stores nationwide.
Music starts at 7 p.m. Sunday at Coffee Gallery Backstage, 2029 N. Lake Ave., Altadena. Call (626) 398-7917 for reservations.
Rachel Sedacca - Lucky Like Me
By: Michael Allison (Associate Writer)
Artist: Rachel Sedacca (www.rachelsedacca.com)
Title: Lucky Like Me
Genre: Country/Folk Pop
Rachel Sedacca is one of those few artists who grabbed my attention as soon as the music started to play. Her country/rock/folk style is very infectious, and has uniqueness to it that I found refreshing. The music doesn't really fit well into any one genre, but good music really doesn't have to.
I found that listening to this album was pure enjoyment. The lyrics are very well written, and the melodies give the songs that extra stickiness that makes them hard to get out of your head. All in all, this is a great album and one that many folk/acoustic pop fans might find the most enjoyable. It's not often that music like this passes my way, but it's always nice to experience it when it does.
Production Quality: YYYYY
Over All: YYYY