Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Pheaturing Lisa Brigantino

Hello, kids, and welcome to the Phile. It's May, and all this month it's Star Wars Month on the Phile. So, whatcha think of the new logo for this month? I like it. The philing cabinet is flying away from Bespin, the Cloud City and the Death Star is nearby. That's what I say anyway. LOL. So, I have to ask, am I a geek for liking Star Wars, or do I like Star Wars because I am a geek? We'll talk more about Star Wars in a minute. What is going on in the world?  The Secret Service has withdrawn its protection of Newt Gingrich in advance of him formally announcing the suspension of his campaign. His Secret Service protection was costing us $44,000 a day. I guess they figured it wasn't worth it anymore to protect Newt from all the people trying to ignore him.   President Obama has revealed his new re-election slogan... "Forward." That's a good message for Obama. He's telling voters, "Whatever you do, don't look back at all those campaign promises I made."  According to the New York Post, John Edwards has gone from $500 haircuts to $12.95 haircuts at Supercuts. The next haircut he's going to get in prison will be free.  There's big medical news... according to the CDC, there's been a huge increase in SSSTDs. Those are Secret Service sexually transmitted diseases. Be careful.  Okay, enough about that real world stuff.  So, I love Star Wars and "Doctor Who", right? Did you know the Doctor went to the Death Star before it blew up and purchased a t-shirt there? I didn't know there was a shop on the Death Star, but apparently there was and I have proof.

Told you. Apparently they sold merch on the second Death Star... even an inspirational poster. And you know how much I love inspirational posters.

Speaking of Star Wars merchandise, through the month of May I will show you some real but odd things that are really for sale that has a Star Wars theme, like this poster. If Star Wars is awesome and Zombies are awesome, then combining the two is surely a stroke of awesome brilliance.

And now, from the home office on Coruscant, here is todays...

Top Ten Things Cut Out Of The Star Wars Trilogy 
10. When Vader is walking down the hall and you hear George Lucas shout, "David your fly is open!" 9. Jawas hood falls down to reveal piece of cardboard with yellow buttons on them.
8. While talking to R2 you hear Anthony Daniels say, "Oh shut the fuck up you miserable puke!"
7. When Carrie Fisher steps in Ewok shit.
6. When Boba Fett accidently trips and falls on Jabba and a midget squirts out of him.
5. Wedge begins to cry after Porkins dies.
4. When Billy Dee began to shout obscentities at Nien Numb.
3. When a Stormtrooper fell over and his helmet rolled off as a monkey popped out.
2. When Luke is battling the Tusken Raider, he knocks of his mask to reveal George Lucas.
And the number one thing cut out of the Star Wars trilogy...
1. When a sudden draft blows up the Emperors robe revealing, "oddly shaped underpants."

Okay, so, when I announced I was going to dedicate a whole month to Star Wars, a friend of the Phile wanted to come on, saying he has something to add. I don't think he has anything to add that is Star Wars related but said he could come on here anyway. So, please welcome back to the Phile...

Me: Hello, PUNisher, you are not really Star Wars themed... but then again neither is Lisa Brigantino. Anyway, what do you have to say?

PUNisher: What movie were you watching when your VW was recalled?

Me: Um, I haven't had a VW in years and it wasn't recalled.

PUNisher: Return of the Jetta.

Me: That is bloody stupid. Actually, I used to say that about my Jetta.

PUNisher: Were the deserts of Luke's youth havens for body art?

Me: I don't know, but I am gonna say... yes?

PUNisher: You're right. Yes, there was lots of Tattoine.

Me: That didn't make sense. You don't have any other ones, do you?

PUNisher: Did the reptilian desert mobster apply his computer programming skills to renovate his home?

Me: What? I don't know.

PUNisher: Yes, he Java'd the Hut!

Me: Okay, that's enough. PUNisher, get out of here.

Okay, let's take a break from this Star Wars stuff. The 19th book to be pheatured in the P.P.B.C. is...

Paul Myers will be a guest on the Phile tomorrow. Yep, this week there's an extra Phile.

Man, oh man. I have no idea who that is, but... I wish I could find a picture of Kelly Clarkson in that outfit. Anyway, todays guest is a singer-songwriter from New York whose new album "Wonder Wheel" is available on iTunes. Please welcome to the Phile... Lisa Brigantino.

Me: Hello, Lisa, welcome to the Phile. So, how are you?

Lisa: I'm well, thanks for having me here.

Me: I really appreciate you being here, Lisa. You are a very, very busy woman, aren't you?

Lisa: Yes, I am, but I like it that way.

Me: Where do I start? First of, congrats on getting a Citation of Merit. It is congrats, right? What is a Citation of Merit, and how did you get it?

Lisa:  I received a Citation of Merit from the former Brooklyn Borough President Howard Golden for my first solo CD "A Brooklyn Night" and my work as a Brooklyn-based musician. It's basically an official notice of recognition.

Me: Did you get a cool certificate or anything?

Lisa:  I got a big certificate and I went down to Borough Hall and met the Borough President and he gave it to me in person. It was pretty cool!

Me: Over the years I interviewed a lot of musicians and singers who work with their spouses, and cannot fanthom ever working with my wife. We would kill each other. You and your husband Tomi Millioto have worked together a few times, right?

Lisa: Tomi and I have worked together for years. Not only do we perform together, we also recorded and produced both of my solo albums together. It's really about having respect for each other and not letting ego get in the way. It's about working together for the good of the project.

Me: Did you ever write together?

Lisa: We've written together a few times when doing some commercial work. The last thing we worked on together was co-writing the music for a national TV and radio campaign for Plato's Closet, an apparel store chain. Tomi is involved in the arrangement choices that appear on my albums, though.

Me: You play a shit load of instruments, Lisa. Tell the readers what instrumemts you play.

Lisa: I play acoustic and electric guitar, upright and electric bass, bass pedals, keyboards, ukulele, mandolin, banjo, violin, cello, percussion (including drum kit), troubadour harp, accordion, harmonica and anything else I can get my hands on :)

Me: Who plays the most instruments, you or Tomi?

Lisa: I play the largest variety of instruments. Tom specializes in guitar... he plays electric and classical guitar, as well as archlute and 19th Century classical guitar. He has a DMA (Doctorate in Musical Arts) in classical guitar performance from SUNY Stony Brook.

Me: You must of started to learn to play an instrument at a very young age. How old were you and what was your first instrument you lerant?

Lisa: The first instrument I learned how to play was the ukulele. I was about 4 years old. My grandmother taught my sister and I how to play.

Me: You and I have something in common, Lisa. You have a lot of talented relatives, right?

Lisa: I do, and I'm very lucky to come from a musical family.

Me: One of your relatives was the late producer Felix Pappalardi, who produced Cream... did you know him pretty good?

Lisa: Felix was very close with my mom (they were first cousins). Felix produced Cream (and a number of other bands) as well as played bass for and produced Mountain. I knew him as well as I could as a kid... but that was when Mountain was in it's heyday so he was on tour a lot. He was a tremendous inspiration to me and gave me my first electric bass when I was 14 from his personal collection of instruments. I'm also very honored to be the cousin of Michael Barbiero, an amazing producer, mixer, engineer and songwriter. He's worked with everyone from Guns N' Roses to Tesla, The Allman Brothers, Gov't Mule, the list goes on and on.

Me: I didn't get any musical abilities. My sister's did, and my son did, but I was screwed. By the way, your first album was produced by Eddie Kramer, right? Kramer produced Foghat's "Stone Blue" album.

Lisa: The album I did with Eddie Kramer was when I was with Lez Zeppelin, the all girl Led Zeppelin tribute band. We recorded our first album with him. It was released in 2007. We also headlined Bonnaroo in 2008 and toured internationally. I was the "John Paul Jones" of the band and played bass, bass pedals, keyboards and mandolin. I left the band in 2009. I've co-produced both my solo albums with my husband.

Me: Lisa, you live in New York, or somewhere around there, right? Have you lived there all your life?

Lisa: I grew up in Katonah, NY in Westchester County, NY and did my bachelors and graduate work at SUNY Fredonia in Western NY (Southwest of Buffalo), and moved to NYC after I got my Master of Music in Composition and Theory. I've been in the city ever since. I have had the good fortune to tour and play music all over the world, though.

Me: Okay, I have to ask you about In the Rough. That's a musical trio where you perform with your sister and somebody else... once again, I could never imagine working with my sister's but here you are working with yours.

Lisa: My sister and I are very close and we've been singing and performing together since we're children. In The Rough is a vocal trio that we sing in with Susan Haefner, a very dear friend of ours that we met at college. We still try to sing together when we are in the same place at the same time and both Lori and Sue appear on my latest album "Wonder Wheel" and also on my first album "A Brooklyn Night".

Me: And something else you are in is The Vickie & Nickie Show! This has a very odd premise. Explain what it is.

Lisa: The Vickie & Nickie Show! is a wacky musical-comedy act that I perform with my sister Lori. We play suburban housewife sisters from Minnesota who sing and play a number of different instruments. We appear regularly in NYC at a lot of cabaret venues and make guest appearances in comedy and variety shows. It's very different than doing the singer/songwriter thing... complete with wigs, gowns and Minnesota accents. We've written 9 full length shows to date.

 Me: Is acting something you like to do, playing a different part?

Lisa: I actually enjoy it very much. It's kind of freeing to play a character on stage and not have to be yourself.

Me: What do you prefer, playing and doing your own thing or the other two?

Lisa: I like the variety of doing different things, so I enjoy all the types of performing I do for different reasons. I'd get bored just doing one thing...

Me: I purchased both your albums that are available on iTunes, and like them both. "Wonder Wheel" is your newest release, right? How do you compare the two? Wasn't there a lot of years between the releases?

Lisa: There were a lot of years in between because I became busy with Lez Zeppelin in 2003 and spent a lot of time focusing on that. I left the band in 2009 to get back to doing my own thing and then spent a year recording "Wonder Wheel". We recorded both my solo albums in our own studio, but by the time we recorded "Wonder Wheel", our gear had significantly improved, so sonically, it's a better album and there's more of a variety in the arrangements. "Wonder Wheel" is doing very well and has gotten some amazing reviews, including Five Stars and Pick Of The Week from MuzikReviews and Indie Music Critic. The album contains an eclectic collections of my original tunes ranging from Rock To Folk, Blues, Americana, Old-Time, Pop and more.

Me: It's not like you have been lazy, Lisa. You do have your hands full. Are you currently working on anything new?

Lisa: I'm currently performing in support of "Wonder Wheel" and working on deciding on what I might want to put out on my next album. My sister and I are also working on a bunch of exciting things for Vickie & Nickie including an upcoming run of our latest show "Inside Vickie & Nickie!" in NYC in the Spring.

Me: You must work from the moment you get up to the moment you go to bed. You have written music for plays, cabarets and films. Do you like doing that kinda thing?

Lisa: Yes, I enjoy writing for different projects. And I do work hard, but I love what I do and the variety of what I do... it helps to be really good at time management!

Me: What films have you written music for?

Lisa: I've written music for several short films... Seeing Red, Taken and Game Night.

Me: And... and... you have your own production company... Hidden Pond Productions. The name of your company has to have a meaning, right?

Lisa: Hidden Pond was the name of the pond behind our house where I grew up in Katonah, NY.

Me: Go ahead and explain what the company does, Lisa. I know but it'll be hard for me to explain.

Lisa: In addition to writing and performing music, I've also worked in the business end of the industry for years. Hidden Pond Productions provides music supervision services and intellectual property clearance services for a variety of clients, everyone from corporations to ad agencies, production companies, etc. Hidden Pond Productions also supplies original custom music for clients, as well. So whether a client wants to license an existing piece of music or hire us to create something new, we can help. Plus I help clients get the rights to use all kinds of protected property, from film clips and celebrities to art, literature, etc.

Me: Go ahead and mention the companies website if you want.


Me: Lisa, I interviewed musicians in the past like Tish Meeks from 3 Kisses who are part of something called GoGirlsMusic. You're a part of that as well I think. Do you know Tish?

Lisa: Yes, I'm a member of GoGirls. I don't know Tish, but met the President of GoGirls, Madalyn Sklar for the first time in February at the International Folk Alliance Conference. I did several showcases there with GoGirls. It's a great online organization for indie women artists.

Me: Lisa, thanks so much for being on the Phile. I really appreciate it, and I know you are very busy. Please come back to the Phile soon, okay?

Lisa: I'd love to... thanks so much! 

Me: Go ahead and plug your websites and anything else. Take care.

Lisa: People can check out more about me at,, and

Well, there you go. Another entry done and the first for Star Wars Month. Hope you dug it. Thanks to Lisa for taking time out of her busy schedule to be on the Phile. The Phile will be back tomorrow with author Paul Myers. Then Sunday it's Ed Valauskas, bass player in Jenny Dee and the Deelinquents. Then Monday it's singer-songwriter Justin Levinson. So, spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye. Oh, and may the Force be with you.

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