Valerie Sassyfras, the multi-talented performer and composer will be releasing her latest compact disc at One-Eyed Jacks, 615 Toulouse Street, tonight, Monday, December 11, at 10 p.m.
Her latest CD, “Blast Off! A Cosmic Cabaret” is made up of songs that each have an outer space theme. With songs like “Big Bang,” “Green Room on Mars” and “Cocktail Waitress in Outer Space,” the album is the first concept album recording she has released.
“This is something completely different than anything I’ve done before,” admitted the diminutive diva in an exclusive CCJN phone interview.
In addition to her performing original songs on her keyboards, Sassyfras, the subject of an award-winning 2013 CCJN feature article, also plays accordion, mandolin and tambourine when she is performing live. This new recording permitted her to play in the studio with guitarist Mario Palmisano, who made the original suggestion she consider the space theme, in addition to background singers Will McMains and Annie Griffin. Scott Sibley, who is credited as the album’s mixer and recording engineer, also added several special effects with a theremin, an electronic device that emits other worldly sounds manipulated by hands moving in approximation to it.
“That gives it that good, spooky feeling,” Sassyfras continued, “plus I have some spacey effects on my keyboard that I could use so I used them for that different, outer planet experience.”
In drawing inspiration from outer space, Sassyfras initially wanted to incorporate funny aspects to her songs. “It seems to me that a cocktail waitress from outer space seems funny – maybe it’s not – but it sounds funny to me,” she added.
Many of the songs were sketched initially out while camped out at the Ft. Lauderdale airport, where she was visiting her aged mother, whom she has dubbed as Mama Sassyfras. Having just finished a science fiction novel that spurred her inner muse, she completed the songs upon her return back to New Orleans.
Sassyfras’ research on outer space took her to the library, where she discovered accounts of the alleged crash of an alien aircraft in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947. She was intrigued and read articles which purported that several modern devices such as lasers and kevlar were created by scientists who had studied artifacts left behind in the crash.
Whatever the inspiration, Sassyfras crafted ten selections that made the final cut to the album.
While performing live, Sassyfras has two dancers who add to her own choreography designs. The two have become the Sashay Dancers. Her performance includes several props and several costume designs in addition to projections designed to add to the outer space theme.
In addition to her fleshed out theme, she imaginatively added a space buddy, who would explore the cosmos with her, a living remnant of the Jurassic Period, a T-Rex. This is explored in the song “T-Rex and Me.”
“I decided that if I was going to write about space and write about things that were far off and we didn’t have access to, well, I might as well take artistic liberty and go back 65 million years and bring back T-Rex, because who doesn’t like T-Rex?” she chuckled.
She uses the imagery of a friendly T-Rex as a means to further engage her audience. “When we’re in space, we just hang out,” Sassyfras elaborated, but felt it important to stress the point that “he has his own girlfriend.”
Sassyfras has additional CD release parties on Thursday night, Dec. 14, at the Old Point Bar, 545 Patterson Road in Algiers from 8:00 to 11:00 p.m. and at the Blue Moon Saloon, 215 E. Convent St. in Lafayette on Fri., Jan. 5, 2018 at 9:00 p.m..
For more information, check her website.