Staying Tuned Into Her Gratitude: An Interview with the Distinctive Guitar-Styling Songstress Alice DiMicele
Local musician and activist Alice DiMicele has been an established singer and guitarist in the Rogue Valley for more than thirty years. But last year, she had to change her approach, and learn technology to keep performing for her fans. DiMicele shares about her changes over the past year, and her approach to standing for justice. She performs at Grizzly Peak Winery in Ashland on June 6 at 4 pm.
Rogue Valley Messenger: During the height of the pandemic last year, some musicians were really creative coming up with ways to continue sharing their art safely, not to mention making ends meet. I heard stories about singers hired to serenade someone while standing on a distant balcony. Others took dedications to pay tribute to someone, like the radio djs are known for, live streaming them for the public. Had you thought of creative ideas about how to perform music safely during those times?
Alice DiMicele: The first thing I did was get up to speed on my live streaming. I called it “The Love Stream” and I did it every single week on Thursdays for a while and then we switched it to Mondays. I had a very dedicated fan base that came every week. I did that for about five months. During that period I also did once a month benefit brunches at my house, live streamed, with different artists. Those were for KS Wild. I also built a small recording studio at my house, a very tiny space, but I got some gear so I could record at home. Not only did I have to cancel nine months of touring, I was also in the beginning stages of starting a new record. Talk about the rug being pulled out from under you! But I was just sort of like, ‘I’m a Gemini, I can handle this.’ I just changed gears. I decided that the most important thing for me was to keep people entertained and happy while they’re stuck at home. So I just kept that as my focus.
RVM: These are very controversial and emotionally charged times for many. Your website says your mission is to encourage people to take a stand for justice in the world. There are so many ways to achieve that. Challenging to a degree that makes others a little uncomfortable. Or, showing a “fed up with this,” angry side. Or. . .
AD: I feel like I pretty much range the emotional spectrum. I definitely go from grief to joy to anger and back again and everything in between. I feel like this planet we live on is a really sacred place. This water that we get to drink is sacred. This air that we get to breathe is sacred. This land that we walk upon is sacred. To me, underneath it all is a sense of gratitude to be able to be alive right now on this beautiful planet. Where the anger comes in often is – “why the hell are we destroying it? Why can’t we all just agree that this place is sacred? Why can’t we just take care of the planet and each other?” As an artist, I just do my best to push us along in that direction anyway I can…It’s really important for me to stay tuned into my gratitude.
RVM: As far as musical quality or aesthetic goes, what are your thoughts on experimental, avant garde, not so easily accessible music?
AD: Well, I love jazz and I love avant garde jazz. I also really like a lot of folk music, I like R&B. I would say that musically I’m pretty eclectic. I like experimentation but I also really like music that makes me feel things. Sometimes, I have to be in the mood for the super avant garde “out there” jazz stuff because sometimes it just makes me feel rattled and I don’t always want to feel rattled. Sometimes I just want to feel soothed and particularly through the pandemic I noticed that I was listening to music that made me feel deeply, not so much questioning everything but just experiencing emotion.
RVM: What is your hope for the Southern Oregon music scene in 2022?
AD: My big hope is that COVID could be over and we don’t have to think about it. My hope is that we have lots of good live music, that we’re all looking out for each other, doing what we need to do to take care of each other.
Alice DiMicele performs at Grizzly Peak Winery in Ashland on June 6 at 4 pm.