There's something about Amy Bleu that's just a bit disquieting even as it is wholly inviting and entertaining. A coquettish singer with a flair for the theatrical, Bleu radiates some kind of underlying mischief or darkness. So, while she's up there doing a nice quirky little number on the ukulele, you know there's more to her than rainbows and butterflies. It's a compelling sensation for a listener.
This bisexual singer-songwriter falls somewhere in the middle of the folk-punk spectrum. Her latest disc has an artsy, melancholy feel to it. Her voice is mesmerizing, though, and her sound recalls another soft-spoken Pacific Northwest star, Mirah. After the title-track the disc launches into the accordion-heavy vignette "Crawford + Gable", before my fave, "Circus Girl Blues". Not for everyone, but I'm a fan. -- Margaret Coble, Curve Magazine, November 2009.
She had me at: "Just because we got stoned and watched Conan O'Brien, that doesn't mean that I want to be your girl." A Spokanite by birth and a Portlander currently, Amy Bleu's voice has a quavering allure are acerbic, witty. Rapturously sirenical she ain't, though she might dash you on some rocks if you aren't careful. With mad skills on the guitar and ukulele, she plays a bit like a single female version of the Mountain Goats, with bounteous acidity and brutal honesty to match the pleasantries of the instrumentation. There's really no better musical combination. -- Jeff Echert, The Inlander, Spokane, WA, May 2008.
Bleu Notes, October 2007
Spokane native Amy Bleu's earnest lyrics and raw, acoustic, folk-rock sound tie together tracks straight from the singer's soul. Armed with guitar and ukulele, she fires off original songs and covers with a voice like Grace Slick unaccompanied by psychedelics. A newlywed, vegetarian and advocate for homeless women, Bleu has staked her claim on the anti-folk industry of the Pacific Northwest with her own recording label, Bad Girl's Records. Currently living in Portland, Ore., she hopes to expand her performance radius through the Midwest, the South, and all the way to the East Coast. On Saturday, catch her onstage at the Cascade Coffeehouse right after a set by Wenatchee native Dylan Morrison. Bleu filled out an e-mail questionnaire for Go! Magazine to give readers a taste of what she's dishing out this weekend.
Go! Magazine: Why do you play music?
Amy Bleu: Depending on my mood, playing music can be a form of therapy, a mood stabilizer, a pick-me-up, a relaxation tool, or a way to express something difficult. I feel like it is something I have to do, and that I'd be very unhappy without it.
Go!: Being a musician is cool because ...
Bleu: ... You don't have to wear a suit and you can sleep in every day.
Go!: What's your favorite venue to play in North Central Washington?
Bleu: I really love the Community Coffeehouse in Leavenworth, but I'm hoping that the Cascade Coffeehouse will take the cake!
Go!: What beverage goes best with your music?
Bleu: Bourbon, preferably with some cola and ice.
Go!: Your music is a book. What's the title?
Bleu: "Technicolor Monsters/Angels." It's a pop-up book.
Go!: Name three records that changed your life.
Bleu: This is really nerdy, but Aerosmith's "Get a Grip" completely changed my life. It turned me away from pop music when I was a young teenager and turned me into a rocker. "Strange Angels," by Kristin Hersh, is what I was listening to when I was learning guitar, so it is totally responsible for my sound. I discovered Jenny Lewis' album, "Rabbit Fur Coat" (with the Watson Twins) at a time when I was thinking I might not be able to get into albums with the same zeal that I had when I was younger. ... It completely proved me wrong!
Go!: A heckler is booing at one of your performances. What's your response?
Bleu: This happened once when I was in a band for a week and we played at a county fair just outside of Spokane. I was wearing a blond wig and the kind of punky dress you'd buy at Hot Topic, and boots with spikes sticking out of the toes. We played rock covers. The audience was so country that they just hated us. They booed us and put hay bales in front of the stage while we were playing. I kicked the hay bales off and swore at the audience, and it ended up earning us some fans, mostly the younger audience members. They still thought I was a drag queen, though.
Go!: Describe a typical practice session.
Bleu: It's usually just me, strumming my guitar or my uke, rotating originals and covers I need to polish, probably irritating the neighbors by playing that Counting Crows song for the 300th time! Sometimes my husband will practice with me on his bass, and then it's more fun.
Go!: Describe your music in a haiku.
Bleu: This music has not
been tested and/or approved
for mass consumption.
-- Abby Holmes, Go Magazine/Wenatchee World, Wenatchee, WA, October 2007.
There's a unique phenomenon that happens in folk music. Singing autobiographical songs is endlessly amusing until that pivotal moment when you finally start telling other people's stories. This measure of progress is what singer/songwriter Amy Bleu sees as the first step toward personal and professional growth. It
"It's the responsibility of every folk artist to carry on the stories of others that came before them. I usually write about my own stories, so it's really nice to sing about other people!" Bleu remarked via phone.
A Spokane, Wash., transplant, Bleu first came to Portland chasing a relationship and an emerging Portland music scene. One endeavor worked, the other didn't. Still in Portland three years later, Bleu is no longer chasing anything but living it.
The 26-year-old bisexual musician has grown musically since her debut album, Renegade Angel. Her latest disc, Snake Charmer, examines her own relationships and those around her. Showing a more mature side to her songwriting, Bleu can "already see lyrics growing" as she continues to traverse the path every musician before her has traveled - that of change.
"This one (album) is a reckoning of sorts. It's not so much about me as it is about what others are doing," Bleu says. "It's the first one that I'm really proud of."
And speaking of proud, Bleu's grandmother is her best promoter.
Now big enough to hold her own and play exciting venues like Las Vegas's House of Blues, she will be at Roots Organic Tavern 7 PM May 25th to show that she's not outgrowing her audience and will still make us proud. Continuing to tell our stories, share her heart and keep moving up, -- West Duncan, Just Out, Portland, OR, May 2007.