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Bwana Villa Vows To Rise Again With Solo Acoustic Gig

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Bwana Villa spent many years fronting the heavy rock band Fridays Waiting. Then, she found herself without a band but still with a desire to perform. When her friend and fellow songwriter Dusty Grant asked her if she'd consider performing a solo acoustic show, she gladly said yes.

Villa, who is currently at work on singles with the project Rise Again, will perform with Grant and Sloan Moon  Saturday evening at Third Place Brewing.

Interview Highlights

Jedd Beaudoin: You're going to do this acoustic show. What's different about that for you?

Bwanna Villa: I'm originally from a metal/rock/alternative/hard rock band. I wouldn't say full-on metal because I'm not like a screamer. I actually sing. It just happens to be pretty heavy music. I have a friend who was also in a metal band, he started playing acoustic shows about a year ago. He'd asked me if I wanted to do a show with him. I didn't have a band. He said, "Why don't you play acoustic?" I said, "I don't know why I never thought of that even being a possibility."

I went ahead and said, "OK, let's do this."

It's different for me because we'll be taking everything away, as far as effects and all the loud noise. I'm actually looking forward to that because maybe I'll be able to hear myself for once. That gets a little frustrating sometimes but it's going to be like a naked performance for me. I'm looking forward to being able to showcase the natural state of things. We're playing the same music that we played as a metal band, but it's going to be really stripped down.

I've always loved MTV Unplugged and that was probably some of the best performances I ever saw from a lot of heavy bands like Pearl Jam and Nirvana. So, I jumped at the opportunity.

There's a certain energy when you're playing with a heavy band that you've got to convey. Does that ever get exhausting?

Let's just say that I have a disc in my neck that, for some reason, likes to catch on occasion. I'll be in the middle of a conversation, turn my head, and it gets stuck. It is pretty exhausting. You have to keep energy really high and I know that at all of our shows there was a lot of mosh pits and a lot of people crowd surfing and those types of things. That's also something I'm looking forward to, being able to relax and not worried about putting on a performance or painting our faces, yes we did do that. This is going to be more personal. Really close and intimate. I love that.

How did you get involved in heavy music in the first place. Was it something that you always loved? I mean, for me, I came out of the womb and started listening to Kiss right away.

It was completely an accident. My whole family is musicians. All of my uncles, they're all percussionists. They play drums, or they play cumbia music. I'm part Mexican, so I have a lot of Spanish music in my background. Naturally, I was supposed to do R&B or Spanish music. I just wasn't really into that. But, I would say that when I started out, the first thing that I ever sang was a Michael Jackson song, "Who's Loving You?" but I was never passionate about that. I knew I could sing because everybody told me I could, but I didn't love it. I didn't have to do it. I didn't have to perform it.

But one time I went to a garage sale and bought a box of tapes. I happened to find an Aerosmith tape in there and thought, "I don't know what this is but it looks interesting," so I stuck it in and the first song I played on there was "Janie's Got A Gun." As soon as I heard those harmonies at the very beginning, that humming, I was, like, "Whoa! I don't know what that is but I feel like I need to do that." So, I just started listening to more and more and more of it and found an opportunity to start playing. I've done probably three or four bands and they've each gotten progressively harder.

So tell me about this bill that you're going to play. You've got Dusty Grant and Sloan Moon. Do you have pretty deep ties with those two?

Sloan Moon, I'm pretty new too. Dusty, I've been friends with for a while. We used to put on shows together called Metal Meltdowns where we'd bring in out of town bands and do shows with them and that kind of thing, just try to help them get their foot in the door up here because it's not always that easy, getting your foot in the door in another city or state.

Dusty and I have pretty close ties together. We did some writing together. He's working on an album, he's been releasing singles and just did a video called "All Crash Down." He used to play metal, so his music's very emotional. But this is a completely different side to him where he's actually singing, he's not screaming. He's come a long way since I first met him in terms of his singing capabilities. He just started playing guitar maybe a year or two ago. He's come a long way. I'm really proud of him.

Sloan Moon, I just ran into them. Dusty knows that band more than I do. I was really impressed. I love the lead singer's [Eric Ramos] voice. He's so retro. He's got a really good texture to his voice. It's not like he's trying really hard, he doesn't really have to. He's just got this thing about his voice that makes me feel like I want to drive a ‘50s Cadillac.

I'm looking forward to hearing his acoustic stuff. The show I saw was at Barleycorn's. It was really good, though it gets a little loud in there at times. I'm looking forward to hearing him as well.

Jedd Beaudoin is the host of Strange Currency. Follow him on Twitter @JeddBeaudoin.

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