The Rocks Off 200: Alisha Pattillo & Her Swaggering, Soulful Sax

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Welcome to The Rocks Off 200, our portrait gallery of the most compelling profiles and personalities in the far-flung Houston music community -- a lot more than just musicians, but of course they're in there too. See previous entries in The Rocks Off 100 at this link.

Who? Alisha Pattillo is an Australian-born, Singapore-raised saxophone player who arrived in Houston six years ago. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Australia's Queensland Conservatorium of Music and has been nominated for two consecutive Houston Press Music Awards in the "Best Jazz" category. She currently fronts two bands, Alisha's Quartet and Soul Swagger, in addition to being a full-time member of the Ezra Charles Band and Pigs On the Wall, a Pink Floyd tribute band fronted by keyboardist Randy Wall.

Her main project, though, is Alisha's Quartet. The jazz-fusion combo released debut CD Along For the Ride in September 2012; live, they play a high-energy collection of jazz, rock and funk. She formed Soul Swagger, which does a variety of soul, funk, blues, and R&B in 2013. The band plays regularly on Monday nights at Shakespeare's Pub.

Home Base: "I get around," Pattillo says. "There've been a bunch of clubs and bars that contributed to my growth as a musician since I moved to Houston. A few key venues for me are Big Easy, Shakespeare's and Capone's. I treat every venue as an opportunity to meet new people and gain new fans."

Why Do You Stay In Houston? "There are probably hipper places to live in the States, but Houston has a very active scene as well as many players that I find inspiring in this city," Pattillo offers. "Often I get a chance to work with them, so it's been a nurturing environment for me to grow in. There are some fantastic live-music venues in Houston, and the fact that neighboring cities like Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio are in driving distance is a plus."

Music Scene Pet Peeve: "'Freebird'!! 'Mustang Sally'!!" says Pattillo, who may have taken one too many ill-advised requests. "Harmonica belts. I don't have too many pet peeves -- most things that bother me are situational."

Story continues on the next page.

Good War Story: "This is a tough one because there are many," she admits. "Most weren't very funny at the time, but now I look back and laugh."

My first New Year's Eve gig in Houston after relocating in 2007 was a battle. In early October I got a call from a local singer-songwriter who I had been working with frequently, telling me about this gig at a local neighborhood bar. He said it would pay well and I was happy to be working.

The turnout at the bar that night was poor, the music was tragically depressing [and] minutes felt like hours. Several times I thought about leaving, but kept telling myself, "No, you're already here, finish the gig and just never do it again." So I hung in there and when the end of the night finally arrived this singer-songwriter comes up to me and hands me $12.

I asked him 'is this it?' to which he replied 'well, if more people had of shown up you would have gotten paid the amount we agreed on.' I was so shocked, confused, and caught off guard with what had happened, I just got in my car drove home. It didn't even cover my gas.

Best Show Ever? Among many memorable gigs, Pattillo says Italy's Umbria Jazz Festival with Ezra Charles Band was a "big highlight," as was the release party for Along For the Ride. "It was so humbling to see that many friends, family and musicians out in support of the band," she says. "The energy onstage that evening was something else."

Five Desert Island Discs:

  • Joshua Redman, Elastic
  • Chris Potter, Underground
  • Arctic Monkeys, AM
  • Dexter Gordon, The Classic Blue Note Recordings
  • John Coltrane, Ballads

First Song You Fell In Love With: "'My Lady'" by the Crusaders," she says. "My father would listen to a lot of music in the car, bands like Steely Dan, Supertramp, Crusaders and Pink Floyd. I think that's where the idea of the saxophone conceptually was born.

"It's a pretty versatile instrument genre-wise, and it really adds a lot to all styles," Pittillo adds. "'My Lady' was on the Jazz Crusaders' Street Life album, and was one of the first songs with a tenor lead I really enjoyed, and hence why it's the second track on Along For the Ride."

Soul Swagger performs 9 p.m. Friday at the Hideaway on Dunvale, 3122 Dunvale. See the rest of the Rocks Off 200, and the Rocks Off 100's 2013 alumni, on the next page.


Brandon Ray, Punk Rocker Turned Filmmaker/Animator The Excitable Boys of Another Run Flash Gordon Parks, DJ as Funky Professor DJ Main Event, Kratez Crew JumpOff Man Odd Hours and Back to Back's Hank Doyle Legendary K-OTIX Producer Russel "The ARE" Gonzalez Dylan Bryson Sings the Blues (Rock) DJ Damon Allen, R.O.C.O. Fellow Tom Lynch, New Kid On the Block Ashley Worhol, Goth-Metal Queen of Katy Joe Ortiz, Clockpole's Master of Nonsense Marzi Montazeri, the Man Dimebag Darrell Called a Bad Motherfucker John Salinas, the Beat Beast of Only Beast Homegrown Cowboy Crooner Charles Peters Adam Bricks, NYC Expat Metal Journeyman and Blasé Bassist Alan Hilton Kyra Noons, Houston's Reggae Sunsplash DJ AudiTory, the Maestro of LuvItMane The Nephilim Terror's Death-Metal Growler Danny Carroll Tommy Grindle, Guitarist of Square and Compass The Bailout Bureau's Mysterious "Bob Bovary" DJ Twinkle-Toes, Won a "Dick-Measuring Vinyl Orgy" With Two iPods Beanz N Kornbread, Gmail-Loving Production Duo You(genious), Party Crasher Turned Musical Auteur Daniel Alexander, Klein's Backyard MC


Crystal Toliver, Source of That Yello Echo You Hear Mr. Castillo, Song-Sniping DJ DJ Big Reeks, The Chief Waxaholic Melane Gutierrez, The Coffin Queen Folk Descendent Kevin Taylor Kendrick Eloy Contreras, Deathrazor's Sharp Thrash Vocals Robert McCarthy, Guitarist From Beyond Justice Tirapelli-Jamail, The Manichean's "Quiet One" Charlie Horshack, LP4's Guitar Warrior Kathryn Hallberg, Little Girl Gone Tessa Kole, PuraPharm's Voice and Vice Richard Griesser, Vintage Camera Hound With Enviable Archive Downfall 2012, Sci-Fi Metal Storytellers Kevin Choate, Drum Like You're Screaming DJ Rockwell, Booth Pimp and Party-Rocker Ash Kay, the Freakouts' Punk Vocal Head-Butt Pat Kelly, The Godfather of the Suffers Michelle Miears of BLSHS, Siren In the Machine DJ Remix, Genre-Hopping Mix Maniac Kahna, Brutal Nation's Metal Booking Queen DJ Ill Set, Enemy of Wack Tracks Shane Tuttle, Updog Owner and Album-Cover Designer Electric Attitude, Renegades of Funk Sama'an Ashrawi, Trill Gladiator Recon Naissance, A Rap While Matt's Guitar Gently Weeps DJ Klinch Asks, "Can You Dig It?" Jose "Chapy" Luna, Percussionist Con Corazón Love Dominique, Wicked Heart R&B Chanteuse Chris Gerhardt, Mastermind of Giant Battle Monster The Jobe Wilson Band, the Boys From Chambers County Kimberly M'Carver, Missouri City's Nightingale DJ Panchitron, Stirring the Cumbia/Moombahton Melting Pot D.R.I's Kurt Brecht, Thrash Zone Supervisor Sloan Robley, The Last Houstonian Banshee Jack Saunders, Dealer of Grit & Jangle Richard Ramirez, Noise God and Black Leather Jesus Mike Meegz, Scoremore's Houston Lieutenant Jacqui Sutton, Houston's "Jazzgrass Lady" Robin Kirby, Silk and Sandpaper Songwriter Billy Dorsey, Grammy-Winning MARATHON Runner David DeLaGarza, Don of Tejano Stars La Mafia Jason Puffer, Your Psychedelic Sex Panther Tobin Harvell, Fitzgerald's Unflappable Floor Manager Walter Suhr, the Straw That Stirs Mango Punch! Tony Garza, La Orquesta Salmerum Founder OG Ron C, Chopstar King of the Purple Dome Football, etc., Giving Emo Back Its Good Name Angela Jae, Renaissance Artist Shellee Coley, Voice of the Northern Woods Blaggards, Houston's St. Paddy's Day House Band DJ Meshak, Hongree Records' Sound Selecter K-Rino, South Park Coalition's Southside Maven DJ Candlestick, One Niceguy and a Very Busy DJ Danielle Renee, Only Beast's Destroyer of Walls Felipe Galvan of Los Skarnales Kristine Mills, Houston's Brassiest Voice Brian Davis, Punk Drummer, Horror Composer Elroy Boogie, Top-Notch Turntablist Sean Ozz, Wizard of The Abyss Alyssa Rubich, Angel of Instability Alphonso "Fonz" Lovelace, Righteous Drummer Frank Zweback, Funkmaster General OG Bobby Trill, Bombon Beatmaker Beau Beasley, Organist for the End of Time Rapid Ric, Mixtape Mechanic Dwight Taylor Lee, the Wandering Bufalero Coline Creuzot, Soulful Pop/R&B Singer Cristina Acuna, Cactus Music's Twitter Fingers Clint Broussard, Blues In Hi-Fi Man Now Back On FM Nortnii Rose, Houston Ska's Greatest Hope Ramblin' Chase Hamblin, the Man Who Will Be Paid Chris Alonzo, Bringing Night Flight to Facebook


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