Robert Bush 9 a.m., May 25
RIYL: Roberta Hofer, Kate Bush, Tori Amos, Bjork, Sinead O'Connor, Fiona Apple
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Influences: Kate Bush, Tori Amos, PJ Harvey, Leonard Cohen, Jane Siberry, Rufus Wainwright, Emily Haines, Joe Jackson, Jeff Buckley, Depeche Mode, Fiona Apple, Sarah McLachlan, Jewel
Singer-songwriter Marie Haddad was five when she started playing piano, but she drifted into other endeavors a few years later. At one point she had to sell her piano in order to stay in college.
“I discovered a grand piano in one of the local hotels that was unattended most of the time in the evening,” she says. “So I started sneaking in to practice on it.”
After playing with various local cover bands, Haddad joined the San Diego Beat Organization, which was nominated as Best New Artist at the 2002 San Diego Music Awards. When that group split, she began performing and recording solo.
“I play piano and sing sort of à la Kate Bush, one of my favorite musicians,” says Haddad. “Her innovative songwriting and production ideas paired with that unmistakable voice captivated me early on.”
A 2007 and 2009 San Diego Music Awards nominee for Best Acoustic, Haddad cites Leonard Cohen as the biggest influence on her lyrics. “My copy of Stranger Music — his book of poems, writings, and lyrics — has so many pages bunny-eared and phrases underlined that it’s like a lovingly worshipped textbook.”
Haddad can often be found at the Casbah, and not always on stage. She's often seen in the Atari Room in the rear of the club, playing the vintage Ms. Pac-Man game. "I'm a Ms. Pac-Man snob," she says. "Not just any machine will do. It has to be a sit-down table version, and it has to be fast. Sure, there are other Ms. Pac-Man's around town, but the joystick doesn't respond like the Casbah's, or it's a stand-up machine, or it's geriatric slow."
She says her high score is "somewhere in the 95,000s," and her dot-gobbling prowess earns her occasional perks. "I was back there playing between sets, and a guy who'd been playing Galaga turned around to watch me...before I finished my game, he bought me a vodka tonic and called me 'the Eddie Van Halen of Ms. Pac-Man. '" A perfect Pac-Man score is 3,333,360.
In early 2013, a video for her song “Boxing” began streaming online, shot by Gretchen Bayer and Jake Segraves at Kind Films. Her song “Why? Why Not.” was heard June 4, 2013, on the Lifetime TV show Dance Moms. “On the show,” she says, “Brooke and the senior division dance group perform a choreographed routine called Why Not Me to my song.”
Running Up That Hill, a 28-song Kate Bush tribute album released in February 2014, features Haddad's cover of “Night Scented Stock,” along with fellow locals Optiganally Yours and their version of “There Goes a Tenner.”
- A Beautiful Road