Listen, Don't Look

By Andrew Gilhooley / 411

There is an intriguing double-header concert coming up on Wednesday at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center in Santa Cruz, featuring two artists with distinctive, complementary styles.

You may not be familiar with the first artist, Lisbeth Scott’s name, but it is highly likely that you have heard her voice.  She has contributed vocals to many major movies including both Shrek movies, The Sixth Sense and, most recently, Mel Gibson’s controversial Passion of the Christ.  She has also been featured on the soundtracks of television shows including Alias, Survivor and the CSI series.

Lisbeth Scott originally hails from Boston, and studied music at the New England Conservatory, Connecticut College and the University of London.  She began her musical career as a classical pianist, but soon discovered that she had a talent for singing, too.  She moved to Los Angeles and released her debut CD, “Sirens,” in 1993. A track from the CD, “Angels,” was featured in the CBS movie Joan of Arc, and the album received much  critical acclaim and radio play.

Scott has released four albums in total, and has toured extensively in the US and Canada in addition to her work for film and TV.  Her most recent CD, “Passionate Voice,” was inspired by her work on The Passion of the Christ, and demonstrates not only her vocal and instrumental talents (she plays piano, guitar and djembe) but also her commitment to authenticity; she has sung in Armenian, Hebrew, Aramaic and Latin for her work on the Passion movie.

The second half of Wednesday’s concert is provided by Seattle-based Two Loons For Tea.  The Loons are Sarah Scott (vocals) and Jonathan Kochmer (guitars) and they have been playing together since 1990, when they were introduced by a mutual friend.  They played under a variety of names before deciding on Two Loons For Tea in 1999.    They self-released their eponymous debut CD, which gradually began to gain recognition thanks to promotion via the Internet. 

Shortly after releasing their first CD, the Loons met drummer Matt Chamberlain, who introduced them to producer Eric Rosse.  The three, together with engineer Mell Dettmer, began a series of recording sessions, recruiting a number of top session musicians in the process.  The sessions were nothing if not spontaneous.  “Sarah and I would sit down surrounded by candles and incense,” said Kochmer, “I’d start playing guitar and Eric would roll tape.  Sarah had a pile of lyrics that she had written, and she would pick up a sheet and start singing to whatever I was playing… The tape would be stopped, Eric would expertly edit the basic ideas, and we threw everything else on top of it.”

The result of these recording sessions is “Looking for Landmarks,” the Loons’ second full-length CD, which was released in 2002.  The album’s twelve songs straddle several genres including rock, R&B and jazz which, combined with Scott’s off-kilter lyrics, make for an interesting, somewhat hypnotic listen.    The album has been nominated for the 2004 Just Plain Folks Music Awards in the Modern Rock category.  Two Loons For Tea are currently in the middle of a West Coast tour and are writing material for their third album.

First published in "411", The Salinas Californian, December 9, 2004

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