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Getting It right
Ava goes national in Rent
BY BOB GULLA

Ava Schlink raises a glass, toasting, uh, herself, on her tune "The It." "Iím world class, ahead of my time/Iím headed straight for the finish line!/I know Iíve got the It/I donít doubt myself a bit."

Nothing like a little well-deserved braggadocio from a local girl whoís made good. Ava, who recently moved to New York City from Providence, was cast in a leading role in the national tour of the Broadway hit Rent. She left in August and is out on the road through the spring, singing and dancing her heart out as we speak.

"Itís a whole new chapter for me," says Ava, from a stop in the Northwest. She temporarily swapped her pop career for a theatrical one, and the tradeoff, she feels, has been worth it. This stint allows her to pursue both arts simultaneously, keeping her singing chops top-notch while doing lots of songwriting to pass the time on the road.

"Itís totally been right to do this," she says. "I bought myself some portable recording gear that Iím running on my laptop, a MIDI controller that I can use to demo songs on the road. We hang out all day in these different cities, go to the theater at 7:30 and then, after work, I have time to sit down and write. Itís the best job in the world."

After a couple of years of gigging with her band in Rhode Island, Boston, and New York ó and getting her degree from Berklee ó Avamade the leap to New York, where she recorded her third CD of original music, a self-titled EP, for her company, First Degree Productions. The record had just been completed when the call came in from Rent.

"I was so involved with music that when this opportunity came, at first I wasnít sure about leaving New York. Should I suspend my music progress for the moment? I had a band together and thought I could get some momentum going." But the opportunity to do Rent was something Ava couldnít pass up. She clinched her favorite role, Maureen, and she sings two big numbers, "Take Me or Leave Me" and "Over the Moon." She was also offered the opportunity to sell her CD at the showís merchandise table. It was the perfect situation: traveling the country on a big-budget national tour and promoting her music at the same time.

"As an artist, on a technical level, the tourís been amazing for me. First, itís great to know that my voice can handle it, especially when we do four shows on a weekend. And by the end of the four shows my voice is still good. I also get a chance to dance; Iíve been dancing since I was three, so I can focus on that too. Artistically, I can continue to let myself grow."

Oddly enough, seven years ago when Ava first moved to NYC, she tried out for Rent. But, as it turned out, she admits she wasnít ready. Yet after years of singing and gigging and education, sheís more than prepared now to truly relish the experience. "Itís so cool to be in this environment," she says, enthusiastically. "I really feel like I have a lot in common with people on the tour. We had this huge jam session a few nights ago. Lots of people on the tour are really talented and have their eye on things after the show."

As does Ava, who has no intention of letting her music persona wither from neglect. Thatís obvious from a listen to her new EP, where she struts some sexy stuff in the form of slinky R&B and neo-soul. Itís similar to her Supergirl material, if you remember that disc from a few years back. But rather than freaking people out with her eccentricity, she stays slightly closer to pop. Obviously, with her recent inroads in the entertainment industry, her eyes are clearly on a bigger prize.

"I donít wanna get too wrapped up in this theater life," she says. "I want to stay focused. Thereís life after Rent. I didnít want it to be a leave of absence from music. Itís catapulting things. Sure, thereís always the hope that you can get in the Broadway show after the tour. But by the end of the tour, I can at least release another batch of material and get my band back together. Then again, the music industry right now is so screwed up, maybe itís good to be on tour at this time!"

WANDERING EYE. Tonight (Thursday, the 7th) at the Living Room, itís the Spits (Ramones/Devo-type combo from Seattle), Midnight Creeps (their first hometown show back from their latest US tour, and their first hometown show with their new guitar player), the Sleazies, and Red Invasion.

Planet Groove is busy this weekend, opening for Tower of Power tonight at Lupoís, hitting the Water Street Café in Fall River, Massachusetts on Friday (the 8th), and ferrying over to Marthaís Vineyard to play the Atlantic Connection on Saturday (the 9th).

Also busy is Just Before August. On Friday, theyíll play Lombardiís on Trescott Street in Taunton, Massachusetts beginning at 9:30 p.m. Then on Saturday, JBA will be at Judge Roy Beanís in Bristol. Both shows are 21-plus with a $5 cover.

"Red hot mama" Kim Trusty will help kick off the fall line-up for the Arpeggio Fall Music Series at Café Arpeggio (139 South Main St. in Fall River) on Friday at 8 p.m. Trusty, who hails from Pennsylvania, is celebrating 12 years in Providence. Her band plays an upbeat blend of jazz, soul, R&B, and blues, with Kimís stirring vocal style at the core.

Friday night at the Living Room features Canít Face the Falling, Eyes Like Knives, Another Tragic Ending and the mighty Slugworth headlining.

Jess Klein is one of the up-and-coming stars of the Boston singer-songwriter scene (she earned four Boston Music Award nominations), and sheíll visit Stone Soup on Saturday at 8 p.m. (at the Arts Center of the Boys & Girls Club of Pawtucket, 210 Main Street). Tickets are $12.

The band formerly known as the Dickens, made up of ex-Haymakers, will be playing this Saturday at Jakeís under its latest name, Too Ugly For Radio. Theyíll be opening for the Blizzard of í78.

John Fuzek, Teresa Storch, Dan Lilley, and Ryan Fitzsimmons comprise the latest installment of the Songwriters in the Round Series at AS220 on Sunday (the 10th). The theme for new songs this time around is, interestingly, "Napoleon." The show starts at 7 p.m. and admission is $5. After the Songwriters gig, fans of good acoustic music should stay around for the second show, which includes rising star Rose Polenzani and Sharon Lewis, formerly of the English duo Pooka.

Roomful of Blues hits the Catfish Grill in Warwick, on Sunday. If you miss íem, you can catch them next Friday (the 15th) at the Biltmore Hotel in Providence.

This just in: a plum slot is open for auditions. StereoBirds are checking out candidates for a full-time drummer. Email thestereobirds@aol.com to apply.

E-mail your music news to me over at big.daddy1@cox.net


Issue Date: October 8 - 14, 2004
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