Lisa Mezzacappa’s Bait & Switch quartet will be opening this year’s SF Offside Festival on Thursday, May 24th at El Valenciano. Ms. Mezzacappa is a stalwart bassist and composer in the jazz and creative music scenes in San Francisco, contributing to its musical output as a band leader and side person, as well curating the monthly Monday Make-Out Room sessions that showcases the Bay’s cutting edge improvisational music scene. She will be joined by Aaron Bennett on saxophones, John Finkbeiner on electric guitar, and Vijay Anderson on drums. Ms. Mezzacappa took a few moments to describe her music and reminisced about the joys of touring.
SFOFest – Tell us about your band’s first gig.
LM – We played at Intersection for the Arts, an entirely new book of music, in Spring 2008. It was my first bandleading effort in the Bay Area, where it was all of my compositions. I drove my boyfriend at the time insane preparing for it, it totally consumed me, it felt important. But all of us had played together in Aaron’s band GoGo Fightmaster for many years, I knew who I wanted to make this music with. . . I kind of stole Aaron’s band, he was a good sport about it.
SFOFest – If you could open for any band, past or present, who/whom would it would be?
LM – The Art Ensemble of Chicago. Really, I think we’d rather play with them, than just open for them, though. . .
Or maybe Henry Threadgill’s Very Very Circus? As long as we don’t have to follow them.
SFOFest -If you’re on the road, who’s the driver, who’s the chef, who’s late leaving in the morning, who loses their cell phone etc?
LM – Our last tour, to southern California, looked like this:
The two people with the day jobs (more reliable cars) provide the the vehicles. Vijay drove Aaron’s car, while Aaron worked on his laptop. I drove my car, John fed my CD player regular doses of 80s-era Slayer and Metallica (that’s what I need to drive on I-5). I make a lot of questionably-legal U-turns to get to various venues and spend a fair amount of time researching on chowhound.com about local delicacies . . . we had some great octopus tacos in san diego on that trip. Lodging is always a challenge, our weirdest situation on that tour was in Bakersfield. We stayed with an accountant who is on the board of the jazz society there, all bunched up on the floor in his living room in sleeping bags. After serving us liberal quantities of microwave popcorn and Crystal Light fruit punch (my mom drank loads of that stuff when she was on the Jane Fonda diet or something when I was in 3rd grade!?), he mentioned that we’d need to be out of there by 7am so he could get to work. We spent the morning waiting in the Bakersfield Target parking lot for it to open, because, um, someone in the band forgot their backpack and needed to buy a toothbrush, underwear, socks for the rest of the trip…. Behold the glamor.
SFOFest – What’s one thing you’re looking forward to about the SF Offside Festival?
LM – I always savor the opportunity to make music with these guys, no matter how much we’ve done it before. Every gig is a new universe of possibility.
SFOFest – Describe your band’s music in 15 words or less.
LM – Obsessive loose tight open premeditated unprecious surprising thoughtful ecstatic collective garage rock blues freedom music.
Lisa Mezzacappa’s Bait and Switch