This episode of our Song Spinner series, which takes you into the hearts, minds and hands of local musicians and their creative process, reveals the story of "Pull My Daisy" by Daphne Lee Martin & Raise the Rent.
BIO: A burgeoning New London musical force, singer-songwriter Martin enjoyed a folk-music-happy upbringing in southeastern Ohio. It provided a solid underpinning for the array of sonic exploration and saturation once she settled into our diverse musical community. She's utilized many of the scene's finest musicians as core players as Raise the Rent's persona has evolved, and counts on vocalists/multi-instrumentalists Sandy "Sandman" Allen and Jim Carpenter, bassist Brad Bensko, keyboardist John "Wayno" Waynelovich, trumpeter/vocalist Danny Motta and drummer Robert Burt as current Raise the Rent principals. Craig "Honeyboy" Edwards and Matt Gouette have also contributed substantially.
SOUND: There's a very firm base of easy-flowing Western swing to the band's identity, and Martin's evocative voice hovers playfully betwixt Patsy Cline and Dinah Washington. But as typified by their brand new CD, "Dig & Be Dug," Martin and the boys are fascinated by and fluent in such archival Americana sounds as Louis Armstrong and Buddy Bolden, pure honky tonk, Waits/Newman barroom confessionals, and even wisps of Appalachian front porch music.
HOW "PULL MY DAISY" CAME ABOUT: Martin had come across an online interview wherein Bing Crosby and Ella Fitzgerald were discussing the magical components of children's songs. She was reminded of her own youth - particularly playground "double dutch" tunes and hand-clap games. A lot of those gradeschool tunes had a slightly risque quality, with puns that you definitely didn't want the teacher to hear. Martin thought it would be fun to write an adult version of those songs, one that incorporated the repetitive simplicity of the childhood melodies and rhythms into the naughtier quality of decidedly adult, double-entendre jazz-blues.
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT: Martin firmly believes in the stand-alone essence of a song in its starkest form. If she can't sing it a capella in the shower and have it work, then no amount of production or layering or complex arrangements will save it. Once she was happy with "Pull My Daisy" in its natal form, she was ready to take it to the band. Since the guys are so stylistically versatile, they easily tapped into Martin's concept, fleshed it out, and brought significant choppage and wit to the table. Raise the Rent has been doing some very nice major label showcases in New York, and "Pull My Daisy" is certainly emblematic of their sound.
FOR MORE FUN: A CD release party for "Dig & Be Dug" takes place Saturday in the basement lounge at Hot Rod's Café, 114 Bank St., New London. Albums will be available for sale along with cool merch such as commemorative Hatch Show posters - and Halloween costumes are encouraged in the spirit of the season. As a bonus, John Fries & the Heat provide ideal musical support. Cover is $5. (860) 447-2320, raisetherentmusic.com.