Christmas presents come in all shapes and sizes. Some are not opened until the “big day,” while others, thankfully, arrive early. Fiddlers Crossing has one of the latter on Friday, Dec. 6. What would normally be the venue’s regular First Friday Showcase will, instead, be a concert by San Diego based blues, soul, jazz, R & B and gospel singer Missy Andersen and “Her One Man Band,” otherwise known as her husband, Heine Andersen, on guitar.
Born in Detroit and raised in Queens, N.Y., Missy Andersen's parents had an extensive music collection that included lots of soul, R&B, blues, jazz and gospel. She says her first real memory of singing is at age 6, when her mother entered her in a child talent contest and practiced with her after school every day. "Singing would always be my friend," she says, "and I would turn to it whenever I needed to express something I couldn't find the words to say."
Andersen particularly loved listening to songs that told stories like those by Gladys Knight, Aretha Franklin, James Brown, The Staples Singers and Teddy Pendergrass. Along the way she also discovered the music of Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughn and Billie Holiday, which led her, in turn, to O.V. Wright, Bobby Bland, Little Milton, James Carr, Ray Charles, Ann Peebles and Irma Thomas. Like most successful singers, she started out trying to sound like the artists she loved. After working her craft, and accumulating invaluable professional experience, her own voice emerged.
Her first real experience in the music business was while in her teens, with the rap single "Be For Real" under the name Denyce "Flip" Isaac. This led to opening for Cissy Houston, fronting local bands, and doing studio sessions as a background vocalist.
After moving to San Diego, she met local blues man Earl Thomas in the late '90s and became one of his Juke Joint Jezebelles, a gospel, blues, and soul vocal quartet. Touring the U.S. and Europe, the band shared the stage with Ray Charles, B.B. King, Robert Cray, John Hammond, Kenny Neal and the Meters.
After fronting the local band Tell Mama, Andersen released a self-titled solo album on Main Squeeze Records. The same label released her album In the Moment in 2014. That CD was nominated for two Blues Blast Music Awards (Best Soul Blues Album, Best Female Blues Artist. She was also a 2016 Blues Awards nominee for Best Soul/Blues Female Artist.
Heine Andersen, originally from Denmark but steeped in American Roots music, has toured extensively in both Europe and North America. Noted for his polyrhythmic acoustic guitar style, he plays lead and rhythm as well as bass lines simultaneously. With eyes closed, a listener would swear there were at least three musicians on the stage. Add Missy Andersen’s expressive, soulful vocal delivery, humorous storytelling and charismatic stage presence and a truly incomparable concert experience is the result.
Peter Merrett of PBS, Australia, calls Missy Andersen “One of the truly great voices of our time”. The Washington Blues Society calls her, simply, “The real deal.” Fiddlers Crossing, here in Tehachapi, calls her an early Christmas gift, not to be missed!
Fiddlers Crossing is located at 206 E. F St. at Robinson Street, in Downtown Tehachapi. Tickets may be purchased at Mountain Music, Tehachapi Treasure Trove, Tehachapi Furniture in Old Town, and Lucky’s Barbershop, or online at fiddlerscrossing.com. They can be reserved by calling 823-9994. Tickets to the concert are $20, and as always, coffee and goodies are included. The concert begins at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
On the horizon: “A Christmas Carol” read by Alex Zonn, “Winterdance”
Peter Cutler is an audio engineer-producer, singer and guitarist. A native of Los Angeles, he has lived in Tehachapi since 2006.