JazzColumbus.com Interview Series: Anna Paolucci

Next in our series of interviews with some of Central Ohio’s finest jazz musicians is vocalist Anna Paolucci. Paolucci has been an active force in the local music scene since moving to Columbus in 1987. Currently, her primary outfit is Anna & the Consequences, a trio performing jazzy torch blues since 2009. Joined by Dan Sagraves (upright bass, vocals) and Rick Soriano (keyboards, drums, vocals), the band’s sound harkens back to a sound reminiscent of an old cabaret, with a “song list that spans popular music from over 100 years including jazz, pop, and blues forms.” The trio has a busy schedule upcoming, including a weekly residency at Ethel’s in the Short North every Thursday in April – see below for more info. Keep reading for thoughts from Paolucci on her musical background and forthcoming projects:

When and why did you start playing music and jazz?

Anna Paolucci (AP): It’s in the Paolucci DNA. My father is a jazzer in Akron, where I was born and raised, who taught at the University of Akron. There were often small combo rehearsals held in the house and that was probably the only time I sat still. I was in musical theater as a youngster and spent many a Saturday morning waiting for the corner record store to open. Honestly, I can’t remember time without music in my life or it playing in my head. My parents didn’t send me to my room, they took away stereo privileges!

Who are some of your main influences in your playing/performing?

AP: Eartha Kitt, Blossom Dearie, Bessie Smith, Charlie Christian, Ali Brian Dick, Columbus locals Vaughn Wiester and Stan Smith, Cab Calloway, Nina Simone, Julie London, Sarah Vaughan, Benny Goodman, Bill Haley, Freddie Mercury and Bonnie Raitt immediately come to mind. It is an ever evolving and growing list and I hope the lessons never stop.

What is your fondest musical memory?

AP: One all encompassing experience in 1978 stands alone. A winter storm dumped a foot of snow with zero degree temperatures while tens of thousands headed to a sold-out show at the Richfield Coliseum. That concert was the greatest show on earth, and it was Kiss. The band’s huge logo, blazing in white lights, seared our retinas as Kiss emerged in black spandex and leather at the top of the stage, descended on hydraulic platforms toward the crowd screaming so loud yet entranced at the same time. Kicking out song after song, Kiss treated us to a flame-throwing, explosion-rattling, fire-breathing, blood-spitting, rhinestone-sparkling, guitar-smoking, drum-levitating, confetti-showering extravaganza topped with the first pyrotechnics even seen, WOW! Meeting Dizzy Gillespie at the 1980 Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland and seeing him play at 13 years of age didn’t blow either though.

What are you listening to today? What’s on your playlist?

AP: Jupiter Moon, Catherine Russell, local fusion legends Descendre, Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas, Queen (always!), Esperanza Spalding, Ting Tings, Shiny Toy Guns, Devo, Los Lonely Boys, Hi-Fi and the Roadburners, Carmen McRae, Crowded House, Sahara Hotnights, Benny Goodman Trio and Queens of the Stone Age. It’s been a great day so far!

What inspires you about the Columbus Jazz scene?

AP: How fantastic is it that ANY night of the week in and around Columbus, a friend visiting from LA, NYC, wherever, has access to world-class musicians, playing for an intimate crowd in an affordable venue.

What are you working on currently? Any new projects, exciting shows or releases?

AP: This May through October Anna & the Consequences are doing a follow up series to 2014’s “Kids Get in the Act” where we mentor inexperienced performers. Hosting is Ethel’s Lounge beside the Short North’s Garden Theater (named for Ethel Miles, owner of The Garden Theater from 1927 – 68). We teach basic skills like how to use a microphone, stage presence and attire, preparing, contributing and communicating in a rehearsal setting, and the importance of marketing. All building up to performance and stage time. The shows are free but a hat will be passed, tips encouraged, and participants reap the rewards of audience appreciation through applause and being paid. Some for their first time! Six performances, five guests and a final, all inclusive show in October.

Where can local audiences see you play in the near future?

AP: Anna & the Consequences have the following dates scheduled:

Every Thursday in April, 6-8pm: Ethel’s Lounge, 1189 N. High St., beside the Garden Theater – all ages and preshow fun before the Full Monty in the main theater – FREE

4-8pm Mothers Day (Sunday, May 8th) & Fathers Day (Sunday, June 19th): Maria’s Cocktail Lounge, 1371 Hentz Dr, Reynoldsburg, OH 43068 – FREE

Thursday, May 12th, 8pm-12am: Notes jazz club in Copious, 520 S High St, Columbus, OH 43215 – advance tix available, $5

Saturday, May 21st, 9:30am-noon: Clintonville Farmers’ Market – FREE

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