Give and Take
Lafayette musician Tiffany Lamson of Givers works on solo material and tries on several new genres
The heat of Louisiana summers drive some musicians into hibernation. But, there’s still plenty to all season long in Acadiana with beaucoup festivals and other concerts.
The multi-talented Tiffany Lamson of Givers recently experienced a sort of accidental musical birth. When the tour-horse that is Givers finally stopped to duck into the studio and record its next full-length album, Lamson had planned to finally focus on her solo material.
“Before Givers, I played alone,” Lamson says. “My music was at first like super songwritery, then folky. Then I got really into looping drums and percussion and guitar, and now I am taking that and going back and creating this loopy, psychedelic folk stuff.”
But right when Lamson began sketching out her first solo record, her exceedingly upbeat Givers band (featuring co-singer and guitarist Taylor Guarisco) sent a few new songs to Glassnote Records, and the label just couldn’t wait to put out a new small EP.
“The first single is called ‘Collide’ and the EP is called ‘Movin On’,” says Lamson. “We put it out pretty fast, and now we’re gearing up for a tour that will keep me busy until the winter.”
Lamson is one of many Louisiana musicians whose musical education began right around the time she was born.
“My family was actually the church band, essentially, like the Von Trapp family,” she says. “My mom played bass, my dad played lead and sang. My brother played drums and the sisters sang harmony. We had family band practices and learned songs together. I’d wake up early some days with my dad and music was our father-daughter bonding time.”
Lamson attests that church was a good, non-judgmental place to learn her craft.
“If we mess up, you know, we’re there just trying to praise God,” she says. “Give the kid another chance!”
Quickly, Lamson got bored standing and singing with empty hands.
“I’m an extreme multi-tasker,” she says. “I was like, give me a tambourine or something. Then I started playing percussion, and I got really into filling the spaces in between the rhythms.”
In the fifth grade, Lamson began official kit lessons from a pro hard rock drummer.
“Then eventually one of my brothers left Lafayette, and I got to fill in on drums, and slowly that became my main instrument,” she says.
Following her brief stints in bands Arbor Vitae and Rotary Downs, her time with Givers began as an accident, at the musically adventurous Lafayette café and bar, Artmosphere.
Lamson had happily played many slow weeknight solo gigs there, but when the club finally called and asked her to fill a Friday night slot, she could only think to say no. After mulling it over a bit more, she decided to put together an improvisational band for the night with Guarisco and some other musicians who would help start Givers.
“That night, everyone was sweating and jumping around and that was great,” says Lamson. “And that set the tone for the type of music we’d go on to make together, especially the conversational singing between the two voices.”
Lamson and Guarisco really dove in when they were asked to open for Dirty Projectors, a band that proceeded to take Givers on the band’s first real tour. The Dirty Projectors’ light Afrobeat rhythms and melodies permeate Givers songs like, “Up, Up, Up,” but the band heartily veers into many interesting psychedelic terrains, like the dark electro of “Bermuda.”
Lamson recently relocated with Guarisco and bassist Josh LeBlanc from Lafayette to New Orleans, where she is somehow finding time to fill her plate ever higher.
“I just wanted to play in other outfits and other genres in town and widen my scope,” she says. “So, I am playing in Mike Dillon’s Punk Rock Percussion Orchestra. Then I lead a band called Neva Right and the My Bads, where I basically wear a muumuu on stage and play drums and scream Chuck Berry songs, with guitarist Russell Welch, who usually plays gyspy jazz with Meschiya Lake.”
The material closest to Lamson’s own solo music would be her Jelly Toast duo, with songstress Julie Odell: the act she currently plays out with the most. “Julie and I have a magnetic bond. Jelly Toast is very harmony based,” explains Lamson. “I’m playing guitar, and I have a broken down trap kit that I play with my feet, and I do a little looping thing. We’re going to be recording as well.”
Lamson recently scored a musical film-short, and recorded a solo Daytrotter session that she hopes will come out within a couple months.
It’s fair to say that, in terms of Louisiana music, Lamson is a gift that keeps on giving.
Catch These Shows
Downtown at Sundown Concert Series
June 1 and June 8
1001 Ryan St., Lake Charles
Jazz night with The Red Barons
Antler’s Seafood and Steakhouse 200 Heritage, Broussard
Creole Culture Day
Vermilionville Performance Center 300 Fisher Road, Lafayette
Blues guitarist Keith Blair
Murphys Sports Bar 1303 West Pinhook Road, Lafayette
Lebeau Zydeco Festival
Immaculate Conception Catholic Church 103 Lebeau Church Road, Lebeau