Listening Local: Flip Side Play (and write) the Blues

The Flipside features local musicians Chris LoCascio and Melissa Roberts Weidman. The two have been playing the blues together for 20 years.
PHOTO COURTESY DAN CUTRONA - The Flipside features local musicians Chris LoCascio and Melissa Roberts Weidman. The two have been playing the blues together for 20 years.

From Elton John and Bernie Taupin, to Burt Bacharach and Hal David, there is a long tradition of composers and lyricists banding together to create beautiful songs. A meeting of the minds can pull something out of the ether that neither party envisioned. 

I recently sat down with local songwriting and performing duo, The Flip Side, in their cozy, aptly named Brown Bag Studio. Surrounded by music gear both vintage and new, we talked about inspiration, collaboration and being Cape Cod musicians. 

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The two are at a crossroads creatively. Although they love playing out as a bar-rocking blues band, their true passion is writing and performing original music. With that in mind, they’ve decided to book a few less shows and focus on where their new crop of songs takes them.

Melissa Roberts Weidman, bass, lead vocals and Chris LoCascio, piano, vocals, met 20 years ago while both playing in the blues band, Joe Sutton and the Safe Sextet. When the band broke up, Melissa and Chris, who shared musical chemistry and a deep love of the blues, kept working together. After many years, name and line-up changes, they are still uncovering new songs and enjoying the journey.

Luke: Is this (Brown Bag Studios) where you are writing?

Melissa Roberts Weidman: Well this is where we play.  I write (lyrics) wherever I am, sometimes in the car, wherever it comes to me. I then e-mail them to Chris and he has a big stack of them to work with.

Chris LoCascio: Melissa is so prolific. I can be overwhelmed. When it comes time to write a song though, I just start flipping through that stack of lyrics, until I find something and it moves me.  When I do find something, I will close my eyes and just press down on the keys, as if I don’t know how to play. I was classically trained, but I don’t go that way. I just keep pressing until I hear the right sound. I look to see what it is, and from there it works for me.

MRW: Then we’ll get together, go back and forth and work it out.

LV: What’s it like to come in and hear your words put to music?

MRW: It’s like going from a black and white sketch to full color. It’s mind blowing!

LV: Do you edit your lyrics as you write them?

MRW: It’s not so much editing, as massaging them. I believe that we don’t write songs, they come through us, if we just get out of the way.

LV: What inspires you about Cape Cod?

MRW: It’s amazing! There are so many wild places you can go in a short amount of time; it’s gorgeous and it moves you. 

CL: One of the things I’ve noticed since I’ve been here is there has always been interesting music coming up. When I came here it was older than me. Now it’s younger than me. I don’t know if it’s something in the water, but I enjoy it.

LV: Who are some writers who inspire you?

MRW: Bob Dylan, especially from a lyrical perspective.

CL: Right now, I’m blown away by the Wood Brothers, also the new Lake Street Dive album. I haven’t been that excited by a new group in a long time.

MRW: The music that you grow up with you always connect with, and we are lucky, we grew up during an incredible explosion of music and sound. In New York City, going to the Fillmore East, I saw Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, that whole thing.

LV: Can I hear some of the new album?

The Flip Side played me a few cuts slated for the new album. One of the standouts was “Hudson River Dream,” a hypnotic, jazz-tinged song Melissa wrote at her daughter’s farm in upstate New York. As they go where the songs take them, you can follow the journey at flipsidesongs.com and select live dates.

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