Alligator Records’ newest artist is multi-talented and Tough As Love, with a little help from her famous friends
By Eric Schelkopf
Alligator Records President Bruce Iglauer has described Lindsay Beaver as being like the "love child of Amy Winehouse and Little Richard." Those influences and others can be heard on Tough As Love, her debut disc for the Chicago-based label. Beaver is a force to be reckoned with on the album, her soulful and passionate vocals dominating every song. Beaver also does double duty as she keeps the beat as the band's drummer. Originally from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Beaver is living in Austin, Texas these days. "Tough As Love," which continues to ride high on the blues charts, also features the talents of such guest artists Marcia Ball, Dennis Gruenling, Laura Chavez, Eve Monsees and Sax Gordon. She is expected to perform extensively from the album during her Feb. 7, 2019 show at Hey Nonny, 10 S. Vail Ave., Arlington Heights. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. and tickets range from $15 to $30, available at heynonny.com I had the chance to talk to Beaver about the upcoming show. Q – Alligator Records has a great reputation and so many iconic artists have appeared on the label over the years. What made you want to sign with Alligator Records in the first place? I approached them with the hopes they could kind of help me grow my career, especially since they tend to work with more established artists. I'm glad they're kind of taking a chance with me, and I'm working really hard to not let them down. Q – They've had some great things to say about you. Alligator Records President Bruce Iglauer said you were like the "love child of Amy Winehouse and Little Richard." Does that make you feel good, to hear a comment like that? Yeah, I think it's really high praise. Those are two of my favorite artists. I do have a different sort of edge. We can do full blues in a set and also do something a little more soulful.
And I'm glad that Alligator Records can embrace that. It doesn't have to be so particular and traditional all the time. Q – In making Tough As Love, what were your goals and do you think you accomplished them? I had been in a band for a long time and I did a lot of the songwriting, most of it, especially towards the end of my old group. I had played with the same people for a number of years. One of the main things I wanted to do with this record was to be able to add guests and people that I admire and just to record with people who supported me throughout the years. Brad Stivers, who is my guitar player in my band now, we've been friends for years, but I had never gotten to work with these people. I wanted to be in front and not hide behind the band, really being the front person. And I think we got there with that, too. It's definitely been a transformation of sorts.
Q – I know that there aren't many female drummers around and certainly not many blues female drummers. Do you think you are paving the way? I suppose to some extent, yes. It's true, I guess there aren't a lot of female blues drummers. I don't know. I've always sort of just done things. I don't know that I think too far ahead of that. I think there is a need for very strong women musicians, not just because they're women, but because they're great at what they do. And that's what I strive for, to not just be the best girl drummer, but to be the best drummer. We need to be the best out there and not just the best of our category.
Q – I understand that you took up drumming by necessity. Your drummer didn’t want to keep bringing his drums over to your house for rehearsal and then your dad scraped together enough money to buy a drum set to keep in the house. Yeah, that's what started the drumming for sure. And then it was hard to find people who knew how to play the blues and knew how to shuffle and knew all that stuff.
I didn't want to teach someone how to shuffle and I didn't want to give someone a record collection and hope they got it. So I thought I might as well do both and make a thing of it. And I'm glad, because I like doing it. Q – And you know what you want, so you don't have to explain it to anyone else. As a child, I understand you discovered hip hop before blues music and wanted to know more about how hip hop came about. Is that kind of how you got into blues music? Yeah, absolutely. I lived in a neighborhood where I was fortunate enough to be exposed to a lot of really good hip hop and R&B music. It certainly paved the way. Q – You produced Tough As Love and you produced three of your past albums. Is that a case of just wanting to do it yourself, like wanting to be the drummer and wanting to be the singer. Is that another case of taking the bull by its horns and just doing it? I think when you are used to leading a band night after night, when you go into the studio, you have the same mindset. But Bruce Iglauer and Stuart Sullivan – it was his studio and he was the engineer – they had a lot of input. I feel like I would be doing them a disservice by saying I did it alone. Especially when it came to the mixing. They handled a lot of it. Q – Why did you choose to move to Austin? There is just so much to see and everyone tours through Austin. The bar is very high and when you are surrounded by that, it makes you a better musician. You are exposed to so much talent and so much good music. Q – So when people come out to see you at Hey Nonny, what should the audience expect? Are you going to be concentrating on the new album or are you also going to be playing songs from your other albums? I don't play anything off the old records because that band's kind of defunct. I'll be playing pretty much everything off the new record and I'll be playing some new things I'm working on and some choice cover songs that I like.
I try to find things that either I really love or a song that's not covered often or not well known. I try to be really careful and not repeat what others have done before me. Q – Tough As Love has received a lot of critical and commercial acclaim. How has that affected you? When you put something out that's really good, your shows need to be just as good. You need to have your stuff together. Through my whole career, I've tried to do my absolute best at every show. Q – That's a good attitude to have, because it seems like a lot of musicians just rest on their laurels. I think it's easy to get comfortable and I don't ever want to be comfortable. If I am ever at a point where I think I have it all figured out, I need to readjust my thinking.
Interviewer Eric Schelkopf has covered the arts and entertainment scene in Chicago for over 35 years. Visit his informative blog at:http://www.thetotalscene.blogspot.com/