On Stage

(PHOTO BY ELLIE BOGUE)

Less is more

Friendship keeps Fawn Liebowitz together

By Michele DeVinney
When the seventh installment of Down the Line (aptly subtitled Seven Year Itch) takes the stage Feb. 23, its host — the Historic Embassy Theatre — will pull out all the stops with an all-star show featuring covers of some of the greatest artists in music history. Among the fan favorites returning to perform is Fawn Liebowitz, who ably tackled the diverse catalog of David Bowie last time out. This time the band is tapping into the wonder and musical eclecticism of the Talking Heads (with a little dash of David Byrne solo material added for good measure).

The matching of Fawn Liebowitz with Talking Heads, who seamlessly moved from a late ’70s phenomenon with songs like “Psycho Killer” and albums like “More Songs About Buildings and Food” to an MTV staple in the 1980s, is a clever way to highlight Fawn Liebowitz’s own musical maturity. Bringing together some of the busiest musicians in Fort Wayne in the last 20 years, Fawn Liebowitz now has a remarkable history of almost 15 years. While there have been times when the band has considered calling it quits, they found the secret to longevity: Less is more.

“There was a time when the band was supporting a lot of us, and we were on the road all the time,” said the band’s drummer, Kent Klee. “Travel is stressful, but now that we’ve cut back it’s become much less stressful. It’s much better since we decided to hang out and play music and not try to play eight or nine times a month.”

With many of Fawn Liebowitz’s members having performed together even before this band formed in 1998 (most were in 2 Ton Heavy Thing, which gained a considerable local following), singer Paul Stephens said friendship ultimately kept them together and led them to find a less taxing schedule so the band could survive.

“After so many years playing together, there’s a lot of communication that goes on both on stage and off, and egos diminish as you get older, which makes it easier to work together and keep those lines of communication open. Somebody has to make decisions about what we’re going to do, but we make those decisions as a group. We discuss alternatives, and nobody brings negativity about the choices we’ve made.”

Making the decision to play the Talking Heads at Down the Line was relatively easy for Fawn Liebowitz, especially since they very nearly chose them when they played at DtL a few years ago. “We thought then it would work, but we ultimately thought that the orchestration that Bowie uses just fit so well with what we do.”

Fawn Liebowitz boasts a strong lineup, and a large one. Joining Klee and Stephens on the Embassy stage that night will be Tim Beeler, Steven Wright, Todd Jordan, Susan Mae, Paul Siefert and Dave Streeter. Even as they have dwindled down to fewer gigs, the band remains a popular live band (a trait they also share with Talking Heads) and a future CD may yet emerge.

“We released ‘Loyalty’ in 1998 and ‘Bug’ around 2000, and we had planned to release a live album sometime after that,” said Klee. “We have hundreds of hours of live recordings. It’s just a matter of taking the time to do it.”

“We talk about it,” said Stephens.

“Honestly we do.”

Posted: Tue, 02/12/2013 - 2:04 pm
Last updated: Tue, 03/12/2013 - 12:40 pm