If Michelle Beebs hadn't been gifted with the sultry voice of a powerful frontwoman, she could always fall back on a successful career as ghostwriter for talk-show guests.
Her larger-than-life stage and fashion presence as the singer of Orlando ska band Beebs and Her Money Makers proves she's got the moxie and pizzazz to bring a room to life. And we found out in a recent interview with Beebs that she can also banter and wisecrack with the best of them. And the proof is in the quotin'.
On when she first fell in love with music: "We met on eHarmony. I didn't think it would turn into anything serious. Yet here we are years later, still madly in love."
On what made her choose to play the kazoo, of all instruments: "Supernatural space magnetism, mostly. Also, it's way cheaper than an accordion."
On what inspires their horn-heavy music: "We're mostly inspired by goats and donkeys lately."
On how the six-piece band got together: "We met at the DMV in Orlando, Florida. While in line for six and a half hours, we started a band, did a photo shoot, wrote a few songs, and tracked an unreleased EP called Efficient Use of Our Time.
The whole interview experience leaves our heads spinning, making us feel empathy for Abbott or Costello or whichever one of them was the straight man. But a little internet sleuthing revealed the secret history of the music behind the humor.
Beebs had a background in theater and performing arts and was willing to work any job out of school, from bartender to music publicist to convenience store clerk to zookeeper (though we're still hesitant to believe that one).
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When she started working on building her own record store, Beebs met guitarist Jeremy Lovelady. The two began jamming with bassist Dave Wade, drummer Paul Brisske, trumpeter Bunky Garrabrant, and sax man E. Money. The record store never opened for business, but Beebs and Her Money Makers did.
Their No Doubt-reminiscent, poppy ska found on three released albums earned them a spot on the Warped Tour. During that time, Beebs' sassy personality got them airtime on Fuse's reality-TV show Warped Roadies. Their larger-than-life stage show also gave the band the perfect merchandising tie-in, appearing as the superheroes in their very own comic book. Beebs saw this as a given, because, she says, "Well, we're superheroes. We have ninja powers, and we travel the universe jamming out and high-fiving space unicorns. A comic book just seemed like the logical next step." Reading the finished product did humble her. "Seeing ourselves as comic book [characters] was like a fantasy. The illustrator, Tony Baldini, does such amazing work. He has done all of our album covers as well. We're very fortunate to have a superalliance with him."
One of the band's powers is the ability to put its unique spin on covers of unlikely songs. Its latest LP, Würst Album Ever, features its take on TLC's "Waterfalls"; it'll stay in your head forever. Previously, it gave Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball" a spin. When asked what other songs might soon be receiving the Beebs' treatment, she responded, "The theme song for MASH has always been on our to-do list."
Tempted to see if she could wring a humorous response when asked about gas prices or health-care reform, it was the last question that elicited a straightforward response. What besides drumrolls can audiences expect from Beebs' performance Monday at the Coconut Grove Art Festival? "Expect the most magically fantastical confetti storm dance party you have ever experienced! I'm not holding back on Miami. They know how to party!"
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Beebs and Her Money Makers. As part of New Times Music Showcase at Coconut Grove Arts Festival 2015. Saturday to Monday, February 14 to 16, Peacock Park, 2820 McFarlane Rd., Coconut Grove. Gates open at 10 a.m. and close at 6 p.m. Tickets cost $15 for adults or $5 for Coconut Grove residents. Admission is free for ages 12 and under, as well as Metrorail Golden Passport and Patriot Passport holders. Visit CGAF.com.