In March I had the pleasure of seeing Trisis at Chippewa Fall's Heyde Center. Trisis is a trio of sisters who sing the songs of their grandparents and great-grandparents. Focusing on the 1920s, '30s and 40s they are retro-postmodernist.
I heard about them from David Gee of Deepwater Reunion, a popular blues band. He “discovered” Trisis and took them under his wing. He first saw them years ago when doing a benefit for The House Of The Dove, a hospice center in Marshfield, Wisconsin. David was the MC of the show at the Heyde Center and he said, “The amount of work they do is phenomenal. They are the hardest working people I've ever met in my life.” They have been singing publicly for about two and a half years and have done over 200 shows. Why is this remarkable? Let me introduce you to these young women.
Their names are Jessica, Jackie and Jasmine and they are 17-, 14- and 10-years-old. They are accompanied by their father on the guitar and that, combined with their voices-as-instrument, is more than sufficient. They entered the stage in black and beige polka-dotted, below-the-knees dresses with ruffled bodices, pearls and black button-up sweaters. They had bows in their hair. The two older girls curled their hair while Jasmine—the youngest— French braided hers. The combination of youth and their clothing might conjure the word “cute,” but it wasn't. It was “right.” Their first song was a rousing version of “Choo-Choo Ch'boogie” a song first recorded in 1946.
Next was “Sugartime,” a tune recorded in the '50s. They took a break as Jessica explained how they came to be singing these songs. She said her grandmother introduced them to vinyl and her first thought was, “You can get music out of these big black discs?” She explained that she soon fell in love with both vinyl and the music. They then launched into Ruth Etting's “March Winds and April Showers,” during which Jessica did a solo in a true 1930s style voice and I flashed back to my youth, watching old black-and-white musicals.
I have to admit that when I heard about Trisis I expected soaring soprano harmonies—kind of Peter, Paul and Mary-like—but these gals' voices are deep and rich, embodying their chosen musical era. They are also tightly choreographed, with synchronized hand and body movements that reflect the lyrics.
Other songs that evening included Patsy Cline's “I Fall To Pieces” sung by Jackie and Jessica, “After You've Gone” (1918), “Am I Blue” (1929), Elvis' “Can't Help Falling In Love With You,” “Java Jive” (1941), Hank Williams' “Your Cheating Heart,” “It's A Sin To Tell A Lie” (1936), “Fever,” The Andrews Sisters' “Rum and Coca-Cola” (1945) ['our grandmother made us sing this one'] “Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy” (1941), and “White Cliffs Of Dover.”
They also sang songs written by their father, David: “Since You're No Longer Here,” “When I'm Not With You” written for their mother, Khristy ('my heart begins to scheming/without rhyme or reason'), a train song I really liked but didn't get the name of ('tour the nation/fascination/ride the train'), a song in French—with the help of Google Translate—titled “Cage En Fare,” and “Good Time Charlie.” David's songwriting is pitch-perfect, perfectly matches his daughters' sensibilities and fits right in with the mood.
Some of my favorite moments was when 10-year-old Jasmine sang Patsy Cline's “Blue.” She was amazing. Jackie did a fabulous job with country-boogie song, “Cow-Cow Boogie” (1942) and I lovedlovedloved the way Jessica cupped her hands to her mouth reproducing the sound of a trumpet. The three sisters sang “Hey Good Looking” charmingly and were unabashedly camp.
They wrapped up the night with “Sincerely” (1954), “Hit The Road Jack” (1960) and finally, invited David Gee as Louis Armstrong back onto the stage for the finale, “Wonderful World.”
These gals are young. These gals are talented. And they're passionate—there's no question they love what they do. And they're lucky to have parents who understand how important it is to let children chase their passions. It's my understanding that David and Khristy are not typical “stage parents,” they support and encourage but do not live vicariously off their daughters nor are they making their daughters live their own, unfulfilled dreams. David Gee confided that he has to encourage them to take breaks—they just want to sing all the time. I talked to Jessica, Jackie and Jasmine briefly after the concert. They told me they find their music on Pandora or use suggestions given them by their grandmother and when I asked them what they want others to know about them Jessica said, “We're regular girls who want to bring joy to other people.” If the show at the Heyde Center is any indication, that's exactly what Trisis is doing. And they're doing it darn well.
You can find out more about these amazing young sisters, see some Youtube clips and purchase their CDs here:
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Find them. Listen to them. Catch them live. Support them. You'll be pleased you did.