seem to be anybody in the local music scene who doesn't know
Gayle Ritt. Depending on your point of view, she is either a relentless
someone who believes in her music to such a degree that she simply can't
telling the world about it at every possible opportunity.
Come to think of it, she's probably a little of both.
A native of Flagstaff, Ariz., the 32-year-old singer and songwriter moved to
Chicago in June, 1998, drawn in part by this city's vibrant music scene.
working in Florida as the marketing director of a cigar company, and she
impressive job here with a local publicity firm, specializing in public
several large restaurants. But she's quick to tell you that's just her day
"The music is as much a part of my life as my job," Ritt says. "Every minute
not working, I'm trying to keep on moving forward with the music."
Indeed, Ritt is one of the hardest working musicians in town. She gigs
playing an acoustic show every Wednesday starting at 10 p.m. at Bordo's,
N. Lincoln, and doing headlining and opening slots whenever she can with one
her two bands. She opens tonight for Vonda Shepard at the House of Blues.
To date, Ritt has released two D.I.Y. recordings, the full-length album
to Turn" and the acoustic E.P. "Naked Tunes" (both available via her Web
www.gayleritt.com ). And she is currently working on two more releases, one
new E.P. to be issued under her own name, and the other the debut by 13
Flowers, her new collaboration with guitarist Beau Glazar, bassist Jaxxon
drummer John Doyle, and backing vocalist Kim Morris. (Ritt's own band is
completed by bassist Doug Kren, drummer Steve Osterman, and guitarist Adam
"I've always had a lot of energy," Ritt says. "And I guess you could say
that I don't
Ritt's strength as a performer is a gutsy voice that brings to mind a
Benatar, or maybe Sarah McLachlan with a bad attitude. Her own material can
tend toward mainstream alterna-pop--Melissa Etheridge, the Indigo Girls, and
are acknowledged heroes--while 13 Flowers is a little more hard-hitting and
unpredictable. "On a lot of our recordings so far, I was just free-styling
vocals and the songs really just kind of came out," she says.
But Ritt's biggest asset is really her unflagging enthusiasm. "I'm a singer,
and I can
write songs that make people feel stuff, and I love that and I feel really
lucky to be
able to do it," she gushes. "So, I'm happy to be the booker, the promoter,
flier-hander-outer, and the person who stands in front of Metro and grabs
and says, 'Please come listen to me!' "
Other local bands could learn something from Ritt about the importance of
faith in what they're doing, to say nothing of the benefits of persistence
to get the word out. So, what does a professional publicist know about
her own music that the average amateur musician might not be aware of?
"The first rule is you have to have good music," Ritt says. "I hear a lot of
and no matter how persistent you are, nobody is going to write about you if
music isn't there.
"Like with anything, it's also about relationships and how you deal with
being smart and being organized, reading and doing your research, and making
you have all the right information in your packet--just crossing your t's
your i's. Usually, I'm very anal retentive, and I try to make sure I have
packet with the matching logo ..."
Anything else? "You should always introduce yourself to people," Ritt says.
really important. And think in terms of marketing and public relations! For
I wore a suit made entirely of flowers when 13 Flowers played the Metro, and
thought, 'Hmmm, maybe I could send a picture to Billboard or wherever!' It's
about thinking out of the box a little bit, and so many of these guys who
bands don't have any clue about that."
Fair enough. But what about walking that fine line between being persistent
being a pest? How do you know when you've crossed it? "I always try to have
smile and keep a sense of humor," Ritt says. "I don't know how to say it
Which doesn't really answer the question. But then again, look how much I
wrote about her, so Ritt must be doing something right.
* * *
Like Gayle Ritt, another
artist who knows a thing or two about self-promotion is
Rudy Ray Moore, the L.A. renaissance man better known as Dolemite. Over the
course of a career that now spans four decades, he's made six films
early 1975 blaxploitation parody based on his signature character, "the
man who ever lived"), and 18 albums that range musically from blues to funk,
X-rated ghetto humor serving as the lyrical common denominator.
Moore/Dolemite has been cited as an influence by numerous comedians,
Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy, while his grooves have been sampled by the
likes of Snoop Dogg, Ice-T, and ODB, among other rappers. Now, he's touring
part of the build-up for the release of his first album of new material in
Century Dolemite," due March 26 on The Right Stuff. There's also a new movie
the works, "Return to Dolemite," while the old films are being reissued on
There are no big surprises on "21st Century Dolemite"; standout musical
include the big-band funk of "Hot Nuts," the nasty rap track "Dr. Sex," and
comedy routine about Mike Tyson called "Mike Biteson." But no one really
expects Moore to change a winning formula at this late stage in the game.
Dolemite takes the stage tonight at the Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont,
the Comeons and the Afflictions starting at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $15; call
281-4444 for more info