Hal was right.
That's what I told Lisa Bouchelle after seeing her live for the first time. Hal (Selzer) started telling me about Lisa several months ago, but I finally got the chance to see her when she was part of a bill at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park.
Showing up with just herself and a guitar, she glided through a set of originals that were rock-oriented but also hinted at touches of jazz and blues. Her lyrics drew you in with a voice that demanded attention. Of course, it doesn't hurt that she's a model as well...
She's been busy building quite a name for herself around the tri-state area. She's performed at such major venues as the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, The War Memorial in Trenton, and The Theatre of the Living Arts in Philadelphia to name a few. Wherever she goes, she immediately grabs the attention of the audience with the first chord.
Lisa has just released a new CD, which just might be the last time she releases a record independently. In fact, the new record deals somewhat with her current situation of shopping her music around and talking with record labels.
"I'm calling the CD 'Passion Makes Perfect' - it's going to be about the passion of writing plus the passion of going out there in the scene and trying to shop for a deal," explained Lisa Bouchelle. "I felt the need to put out this album just in case it's my last independent release. I wanted to put such an eclectic mix and have the liberty to put some things on that probably would be hard for me to release on a first artist album on a label - something maybe you could do a few albums down the road.
"I have a mixture of all my favorite things that I've done this year; Whether I've recorded them to shop for labels or whether I've done sketches just sitting there in my living room with my musician friends."
The record is bound to sound eclectic because Lisa is interested in many different styles of music.
"I'm real free and creative with this one," adds Bouchelle. "Artistically, it's a little bit quirky. It's not as mainstream as some of the stuff you hear on the radio. I don't ever compromise when I'm writing, but I think that if you looked at 20 of my songs and listened to them - some of them you'd hear as mainstream hits and some you'd hear as b-side stuff. But I think they're all purely written as I felt. I'm not ever one to try to write to sell out or to please somebody, but sometimes they come out more mainstream and sometimes they come out more quirky. And the more quirky songs I really wanted on this album. I don't know if I would have been able to do that on my first label release. For this one I had complete artistic control."
Music fans in the area might remember Lisa from the band October Baby. As time went on, she realized that she was pursuing music a lot more than the others in the band so she decided to go solo. She says she now prefers playing acoustic sets.
Although Lisa has a strong fanbase throughout the area, many people have seen her for the first time this year. She's opened for artists like Bryan Adams in Atlantic City and Southside Johnny and the Jukes in Point Pleasant. These opening spots are the result from hours upon hours of hard work from Lisa. She handles virtually every aspect of her career right now from booking to recording to promotion.
Even though the external stuff takes up a fair amount of her time, Lisa admits that she'll miss that control when she moves on to a label. "I just love seeing it all come together," said Bouchelle. "I booked shows in Georgia and sent out press material, set up radio shows, and flyers. I drove down in my car - all 13 hours - and when I get down there I saw my posters all up in the venues, I was in the newspaper.... It's just very exciting to see it all come together from start to finish. I just love that!"
This September Lisa makes her annual trip to New Orleans for a bunch of shows. She's done these shows every year and has built up her own fanbase there. It's one of her favorite shows of the year.
Gary Wien has been covering the arts since 2001 and has had work published with Jersey Arts, Elmore Magazine, Princeton Magazine, Backstreets and other publications. He is a three-time winner of the Asbury Music Award for Top Music Journalist and the author of Beyond the Palace (the first book on the history of rock and roll in Asbury Park) and Are You Listening? The Top 100 Albums of 2001-2010 by New Jersey Artists. In addition, he runs New Jersey Stage and the online radio station The Penguin Rocks. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.