Marcia Gallagher is a music teacher in the Augusta area, with 10 years of being a voice coach, piano instructor and director of the University of Maine at Augusta vocal jazz ensemble. She’s also the kindergarten through eighth grade music teacher at St. Michael School in Augusta, as well as a private instructor. She performs throughout the state at venues and private functions as a solo artist, and is part of a trio and a quartet. It is in that capacity that she’ll appear at Slates in Hallowell on Monday. She recently telephoned to chat about a new show — “Tribute to Jazz Sirens, featuring the Marcia Gallagher Quartet” — she’ll bring with her to the eatery.
Q: How are you?
Gallagher: Good. I’m just having a little break from teaching my middle school kids here, so I’ll try to focus on this now.
Q: Are you taking the “Jazz Sirens” show to Slates?
Gallagher: Yes and I’m looking forward to it.
Q: To help me prepare for this interview you sent a sampler of the music that will be performed. Is the line-up of musicians that appear on that CD — Richard Nelson on guitar, Steve Grover on drums, Duane Edwards on upright bass and, of course, you on piano — the same players that will back you in Hallowell?
Gallagher: Right . . . the UMA faculty. We are going to be joined by Tim Weir — who is another faculty member and will be playing just for this one concert — he’s a trumpet player.
Q: Do you get out much with your Quartet?
Gallagher: I mostly play solo. but I do occasionally have an opportunity to play with an ensemble and I will hire their guys from time to time if the situation arises.
Q: Have you ever brought this particular show to Slates before?
Gallagher: I have played at Slates before, but this show is different. I wanted to put together a show that was more than just singing and playing.
Q: Could you explain what the “Tribute to Jazz Sirens” show is like?
Gallagher: Sure, since most of my repertoire is vocal jazz I have this idea to focus on the women who were pioneers of the genre. I chose seven to begin with — I’ve done this show once before in September of this year — and I researched each woman and wrote a condensed version of their lives and careers. I then chose music that each one of them recorded at some point in their careers and wrote arrangements of those tunes, and then I weave the stories around the songs. I’m also using a slide presentation of images of the women as I’m talking about them.
Q: That sounds cool!
Gallagher: Yes and it’s been well-received. I’ve gotten some good feedback from the first one that I did. What I like about it, too, is that not only does it have a theme, but it allows a lot of flexibility.
Q: How so?
Gallagher: Well, from the (show) that I did in September, I have changed it. I’ve changed some of the songs, I’ve re-written some of the script. I also had seven (women) the first time which really was quite a lot, so for this show I’m only having four, so it’s a little more in-depth of each woman. Plus the concert is shorter, too. The one at UMA was about two-hours long so this one is 75 minutes.
Q: This flexibility gives the project almost unlimited potential — from this more modest presentation at Slates, to an even bigger one with more women highlighted, a larger ensemble . . . this is really open-ended.
Gallagher: Well, I have that kind of theater interest because I do musical theater. Also — I’m involved with TAM, Theater At Monmouth, a little bit so I have that interest to do something more than just singing and playing . . . having something a little more involved.
Q: Slates will be a great place for this special show.
Gallagher: Yes, the crowd is so supportive there . . . it’ll be a good audience to present this to.
Q: Is there anything you’d like to pass on to those folks considering coming out and seeing this “Jazz Sirens” show?
Gallagher: Just that I hope they feel welcome to join us if they’re interested in this type of genre, and that I would love to see them there.
Lucky Clark has spent over four decades writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.