Tippy Canoe (more formally known as Michele Kappel) and her band The Paddlemen will play a show at the Make-Out Room this Sunday, June 15, to celebrate the release of their new album Parasols & Pekingese. The album is released on Late Bloomers Works, a production company founded by Tippy and Matty Stone.
Straying quite a bit stylistically from her former band The Kirby Grips, Tippy likes to call her ukulele-based style “old-timey pop,” which is fantastically appropriate. Her style is born out of years of listening to many different styles of music, beginning with her parents’ influence of country and 60s folk and morphing into her teenage obsession with industrial and then 80s indie. When she came to the Bay Area, she was immediately pulled into the rockabilly and swing scene, and then into the girl garage rock scene that brought her to The Kirby Grips and the record label Sympathy for the Record Industry.
In a phone conversation with Tippy as she cooked spaghetti, she explained how she sees her own style, where it came from, and what she hopes her fans get from her music and live shows.
To start, she talked about how she put together the new album and what her songwriting process is like.
“I have a lot of influences and I like a lot of styles,” she said. “When I write a song I just want it to have a hook – I like a strong rhythm and a strong hook. I can usually pinpoint what I was inspired by.”
In being labeled by the media, friends and fans, Tippy said she has heard a lot of flattering comparisons, and generally feels that people get the idea of what her music is trying to get across.
“I like when people say it’s danceable – one of my favorite things is when people get out and just start jumping around,” she said. “And I’m happy to be called old-timeyâ€¦I call it old-timey pop because it definitely has some pop sensibilities but I know it has that strong retro feel….
“I feel strong enough in what I’m doing that I’m not offended by being called light and fun.” But she admitted that she’s not so pleased when people call it Hawaiian or “island music.”
“I respect where the ukulele came from, but I’m not doing any hawaiian music,” she said. “That’s a little like, ‘well, you’re just not paying attention.'”
In the coming months, Tippy will embark on a nationwide tour with her good friend Uni and her Ukelele. The entire tour was booked by Tippy, who says she likes the “musical matchmaking” of booking, and likes being able to choose where she plays.
“I like a lot of different places,” she said. “On this tour we’re in a couple of great dive bars, two art galleries, a coffee house, a music store, and then your traditional night club.” She explained that she likes the change in vibe that playing in different venues gives, and provided an anecdote of a time she played in Brooklyn and the PA stopped working, so she just wandered around the room and played in every corner.
Although the tour will be a solo tour for Tippy, she does have a set of Paddlemen in her hometown of Baltimore (“I’m franchising by city,” she joked), who may join her for a show or two. But her show this Sunday will be an extravaganza of 20-minute sets by her band mates and friends, including her guitarist Mikie Lee Prasad, The Frisky Frolics, The Bellyachers, Uni and her Ukelele, The Paperdolls (which includes Uni) and Julia Shirar of Pillows.
It should be a party, to say the least. The show starts at 8pm and costs $7.