Friday, May 24, 2013

Red Line Scene Feature Friday: Danielle Miraglia

In my Red Line Scene feature with Tom Bianchi I mentioned the behind every great man there is a great woman (dealing with his crap). Well in Tom’s case (and lucky for him), that woman just so happens to be the bad-ass-blues songstress, Danielle Miraglia. Danielle has been a strong thread in the fabric of the Cambridge scene for many years now, adding her strong thumbed, gritty (but somehow suave…yeah, I just used suave) blues sound to an otherwise, rather folk driven scene. You can catch her out in many different forms, sitting in with folks, playing solo, or being back by a band on any night of the week either in town or throughout the northeast. I was lucky enough to catch up with her (electronically) to answer a few questions for RLR…

1)       What projects are you currently working on?
DM: I recently released a single called “Heat of the Win.” It’s the story of the 1986 World Series between The Red Sox and The Mets when the ball rolled through Bill Buckner’s legs.  I never thought I’d write a sports-related song, but that story is fascinating to me.  How one man could be ostracized for years over one mistake. Also, the idea of coming so close to a big win only to hugely lose. Lot’s of life-related stuff in there.
It was produced by Tom Bianchi and is up as a “Pay What You Want” download on Band Camp at

(side note: I will have to review this soon...)
2)       Why do we have the best music scene? (if you don’t think we do, what do you love about the scene here in Boston/Cambridge/Somerville)
DM: Whether it’s the best is subjective, but I can say for sure that it’s my favorite.  I was born and raised and went to school in this area.  Just after graduating college for Creative Writing, before I started playing out around here, I planned on moving to Arizona. I didn’t know where in AZ, I just had a fantasy about wearing sundresses and writing novels on a typewriter.  I started hitting the open mic scene around here and realized I wanted to focus on music and I was already in the best place to do that.  As a solo musician starting out, the Boston area has endless opportunities to gain experience. You can play an open mic every night of the week and there is busking, which is like musical boot camp.  We also have some incredible talent around here, which sets the bar high and keeps you constantly working to improve.
3)       Favorite OR least favorite/most embarrassing moment on stage from your career?
DM: Years back, I played the Skellig in Waltham with a full band.  We were greeted there by a bachelorette party with a Madonna theme. As is the case with many bachelorette parties, there were various penis shaped things going around…lollipops, candy etc.  Seeing all the ladies were dressed as Madonna from various eras, we spontaneously turned into an 80’s cover band.  As I was playing along to “Like a Virgin” a big rubber dildo came flying at me, hit my guitar and fell to the floor.  I picked it up and strummed a chord with it.  Every guy in the room winced. 
4)       If you could collaborate with anyone from the area (general New England) who would it be?
DM: The cool thing about being in a tight music scene is that if you want to collaborate with another musician, you can.  I often sit in with the Baker Thomas Band.  I’ve played as a duo on occasion with Lydia Warren, Dana Price and Ryan Fitzsimmons. Will be playing some Bob Dylan songs on the Johnny D’s stage soon with Tim Gearan.  Jenee Halstead and I have been getting together, recently just to talk about music and inspire each other to write a song a week.  It’s always good to have others to connect with musically.
As for someone I’ve never collaborated with who I’d love to, Chris Smither comes to mind.  I had the pleasure of opening for him a while back, but I’d love to actually share the stage with him sometime.  If you see him, tell him to give me call!
5)       3 records that shaped you when you first started playing and 3 records that best represent who you are now/are listening to now? 
DM: So many!  Tough to narrow it down.  It’s not so much a “then and now” list as it is a timeline. 
 Rolling Stones – “Tattoo You” – The first album of my own that wasn’t sung by Sesame Street monsters (of course that had an influence too!).  It was my intro to gritty guitar and Mick Jagger, who was my first crush aside from Mr. Rogers and John Ritter. 
Prince “Purple Rain” – This was the era that made me obsessed with Prince for life and made me understand that music should get you either in the heart or the groin.  If it’s neither, it ain’t doing its job.
Guns n Roses “Appetite for Destruction” –  GnR was a big part of why I started learning guitar.  At that time, I just wanted to play leads and shred…I still do!
The Janis Joplin box set.  I got this in high school and it changed my life.  My intro to complete fearlessness.  Janis poured every bit of herself into every note.  She sweated it out – all the beauty, the pain, the ugliness and soul. 
Joni Mitchell “Blue” – Lyrically as raw and real as it gets. Taught me the value of being emotionally honest just right to the bone.
Bill Hicks  “Relentless” – Yes, this is not music, but a comedy album. Honestly, until I heard Bill Hicks’ comedy, politics was a foreign language to me.  Hicks was my biggest influence in becoming socially aware and figuring out how to incorporate that into art in a way that’s rousing and relatable. 
As for the acoustic blues influence, that comes mostly from various recordings of Mississippi John Hurt and Big Bill Broonzy who taught me the power of a strong thumb.
6)       Why is creating music important to you?
DM: Being able to create any kind of art is something that nothing and no one can take away from you.  It’s like having an emotional bomb shelter.   It’s a gift to have an outlet to either escape from or zoom right into and make sense of all the chaos in our personal lives and the world.  It’s even more of a gift to be able to provide that for others.  Often, I feel like being a performer is a selfish endeavor, but when someone takes the time to write me and say a specific song means a lot to them, that alone keeps me doing it.  That’s the writing end of it.  I also get extreme pleasure out of just hanging out, playing my guitar and discovering a new lick or way to play a chord.  As Keith Richards once said “You can never get bored with one of these things!”  
7)      Music you listen to that you otherwise wouldn’t tell your friends about?
DM: At this point in my life, I don’t worry about friends judging what I like.  But there are some songs that I surprise myself with. 
Most of the stuff I love is from an older era, but occasionally I’ll roll up the car window and belt out a current pop hit.  The most recent one that gets me is Bruno Mars “When I Was Your Man.” 
I’m also a sucker for a good cheesy 70’s love song.  Two songs I can’t not listen to when they come on, Loggins and Messina’s “Danny’s Song” or “You Are My Shining Star” by The Manhattans.  
8)       Aside from music, do you have any other pastimes? What would you want people to know about you aside from your musical endeavors?DM: I always wish I could answer this question with something cool like cat juggling or extreme water wrestling…those are things right?  I spend a lot of time driving to gigs in various parts of the country.  As a way to pass the time, comedy podcasts have become an obsession for me.  I’ve been as much a fan of comedy as for music since as early as I can remember.  And it’s something I can still enjoy from a pure perspective without constantly analyzing it like I now do with music.  My favorite podcasts WTF with Marc Maron and Walking the Room have gotten me through some otherwise boring rides through the long states.  Jenee Halstead and I have been talking about starting one together.  If that happens, I’ll be able to mention that as a pastime in the next interview.
And then of course, there’s date night. (See Tom Bianchi’s feature). 

9)       Anything else you want to plug or we should know?
DM: You can get all that updated info on new recordings/tours etc. at my web site.
Follow me on Twitter.  I love Twitter! 
Oh, and I have a Tumblr blog

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