To celebrate the release of her new EP Blue Forest on her Mermaid Alley label, singer/songwriter Carol Lipnik will make a special one-night-only return to Joe’s Pub on Wednesday, June 8, at 7 pm, for a live performance of the album’s entire seven-track song list, accompanied by music director Michael Visceglia on bass, Matt Beck on guitars, lap steel guitar, and ukulele, and Mark Bonder on piano. The concert will also include selections from Goddess of Imperfection, her second major recording of the season, which features collaborations with Obie Award-winning playwright/performance artist David Cale and Mexican composer Tareke Ortiz.
A winner of the BroadwayWorld Award for Best Alternative Cabaret Show, Lipnik is renowned for her haunting tragicomic multi-octave voice, her signature blend of folk music, operatic flourish, and art song with the classic nightclub tradition, and lyrics based in mythical imagery. Blue Forest offers an enchanting original song cycle developed during her artist’s residency at Yaddo, in Saratoga Springs, NY, while living in a stone tower from 1893. It encompasses an immersive dreamscape of feelings that combines Lipnik’s uncanny ability to channel the magic of the natural world in order to pierce through the chaos and anxiety of today, to invoke a more hopeful future.
Carol generously found time to answer some questions about her trademark music and her upcoming concert at Joe’s Pub.
What inspires you, both in life and in song?
Carol: I am inspired by things that open channels leading to catharsis – the feeling that happens when you give yourself over to a mysterious emotional wave, when something moves you to release what you’ve been bottling in, and you can forget yourself and give yourself over to the power of reverie. It’s mysterious and hard to explain, but it could be a cloud, or a tree, or the wind in your face, a song, laughter, unleashed raw emotion. I drink up sad songs and love the state that they put me into – becoming the music. Cares dissolve into an ocean of emotion – a feeling like your heart is going to explode – and it’s such tremendous medicine.
What comes first for you, the music or the lyrics?
Speaking of mystery, the process of creating a song is still a mystery to me. I like to say I’m an aspiring magician trying to pull a song-rabbit out of a top hat. Every once in a blue moon the rabbit comes out whole – words and melody together, and it feels like a miracle, like I’m channeling the divine. More often I’m inspired by a phrase I picked up somewhere and/or a musical riff, and I’ll start playing them together, singing the rest in tongues until a song begins to break through the foggy haze. Paul McCartney demonstrated this method so perfectly in Peter Jackson’s “Get Back” – pulling the song “Get Back” out of thin air right before our eyes.
What’s your first creative memory, the one that made you realize you wanted to be an artist?
Again, speaking of mysteries, I’ve always been an artist for as long as I can remember, and I don’t know why, maybe it’s the soothing act of losing yourself that feels so good, or maybe it’s just because I’m a naturally shy weirdo with social anxiety, but I was drawing when I was two (I started out as a visual artist). It was when I discovered the poet-songwriters that I became in touch with my singing voice – the same way I instinctively knew I could draw, I knew I could sing and mimic any voice I heard. And singing also gave me an immediate emotional gratification; it’s addictive, and there’s a shamanic aspect to it. My mysterious personal instinct is also what led me to know that I can balance a spoon from the tip of my nose indefinitely.
What are you most looking forward to in your return to Joe’s Pub?
I am most looking forward to galloping out of the gate with an amazing group of musicians and performing the songs from my two brand new albums Blue Forest and Goddess of Imperfection. And I am so happy to be back to the act and art of performing for/with a live audience after so many months of hiding from the pandemic.
How would you describe yourself and what the audience can expect in the concert?
I’m a bit of a medium attempting to transmit a poetic spell to the audience through my songs, voice, and dashes of offbeat comic sensibility – at least this is what I aspire to: to channel a different kind of dreamlike vision to the audience, and create a very special experience, interaction and connection, a primal give and take of heart and soul.
Thank you, Carol, for giving our readers some insights into your music and your creative process, and congratulations on your latest album releases and concert!
Carol Lipnik: Blue Forest plays on Wednesday, June 8 at 7:00 pm, at Joe’s Pub, 425 Lafayette Street, NYC. For tickets (priced at $20, plus a two-drink or $12 food minimum per person), go online. Everyone must show proof of COVID-19 vaccination to enter the building and must wear a mask when inside, except while actively eating or drinking.