The Portland Playlist: Lisa Mann

Vortex Music Magazine

Lisa Mann shares the songs that inspire her music—plus a couple of tracks that she just can’t live without. Listen to her playlist and download a song of hers for yours!

Photo by Miri StebivkaPhoto by Miri StebivkaLately, Lisa Mann’s star has been rising and the most recent sign of her ascent came in May in the form of a Blues Music Award for her bass playing. The honor “means a whole lot” to her, she says, “because I'm kind of a weirdo in the blues scene. I don't write traditional blues, I play a six-string bass, and I have a varied musical background.”

Besides joining several showcases at this year's Waterfront Blues Festival, “I am slowly but surely working on songs for the next CD—most are still amorphously in my head. But I plan to cover a few songs, including Little Milton's live version of ‘Let Me Down Easy.’”


Blues, R&B, rock


“I walked home from school in seventh grade and ate beans for lunch so I could buy my first bass with my lunch money. I've been playing bass and singing for a living since I was too young to stay in the bar on breaks. I've produced several full-length CDs and worked with some of the finest musicians and engineers in the biz. I've received awards from the Cascade Blues Association, the Blues Blast Music Awards, Blues411 and The Blues Foundation. It's pretty overwhelming, I feel very grateful.”


"Been Trying To Figure Out" by Jackie Scott & The Housewreckers: “I got to perform with a Chicago-style blues singer named Jackie Scott at a fundraiser in Memphis for The Blues Foundation. She leads a band called The Housewreckers based in southern Virginia. Her voice is stellar, her songs are funky, and her self-released CD Going To The Westside is very well produced. Her track ‘Been Trying To Figure Out’ gets stuck in my head!”


“Ain't Too Proud To Beg” by The Temptations: “Every song I've ever heard in any style ever. But lately, if I have to narrow it down, songs that featured James Jamerson on bass, like The Temptations' ‘Ain't Too Proud to Beg,’ have informed my recent arrangements.”


"Saved" by LaVern Baker: “When I was a young Jewish kid in Charleston, W.Va., my folks did a kind of cultural exchange with a black church. Our family went to the church, and a church family attended services at the synagogue. I was probably 7 years of age. Synagogue is mostly solemn and austere, but when we walked into that church and people were singing in the aisles at the top of their lungs and the band was jumpin’ away, with drums, bass, tambourine and all, the music thrilled me to my soul. I don't have many strong memories of early childhood, but this stuck with me. I don't know what songs they sang, but when I hear LaVern Baker's version of ‘Saved’ it has the same energy and tempo of the songs I remember hearing. It brings back that memory loud and clear.”


Lisa Mann at the 2014 Watefront Blues Festival—click to see a whole gallery of photos by John AlcalaLisa Mann at the 2014 Watefront Blues Festival—click to see a whole gallery of photos by John Alcala"Can't Stand To See You Go" by Jimmy Reed: “If I hear Jimmy Reed's ‘Can't Stand To See You Go’ once, it'll be stuck in my head for days. Just thinking about it now has it rolling! So I guess I can't live with it, and I can't live without it!”


“Wasted Years” by Iron Maiden: “NWOBHM [New Wave of British Heavy Metal] bands like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. Because it's what helped me survive high school and it still inspires me, especially vocally. Recently, I did a rock show with Karen Lovely and sang Maiden's ‘Wasted Years.’ I love the power in the vocal and the message of the song: ‘Don't waste your time always searching for those wasted years... realize you're living in the golden years.’ Just move on forward, there ain't no other way to go!”


“The aforementioned Karen Lovely is an amazing entertainer. Kevin Selfe and The Tornadoes are great (especially their bass player Allen—he's pretty cute). [Mann and Allen Markel actually got married on the Blues Fest stage in 2009.] Kevin writes great, humorous songs, like ‘Put Me Back In Jail’ and I love funny songs. Mitch Kashmar is a treasure that's been imported into Portland, an amazing harmonica player. And The Stevens Hess Band always drives everyone onto the dance floor.”


The title track from Mann’s most recent record, “Move On” is “a song I wrote after I lost my mother a few years ago and, subsequently, lost my voice for six months. It's message is to keep on keeping on, about having no way to go but forward even if it feels like all obstacles are in your way.”

Download Lisa Mann's “Move On” from her most recent record of the same name and add it to your personal playlist.

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