Melissa Reaves - PaintingMelissa Reaves - Charlotte, NC
By Hotbands Editor - Pat Ferris

One of the primary ways I get to meet new artists and bands is via the internet.  Through word of mouth referrals or by seeing a review on a website or posting in a newsgroup, I will find them or they will find us.  From there, streaming audio and MP3's allow me to hear what they are about and what their message and musicianship is...all from the comfort of my home-office!

This form of media and communication has led me to several bands world-wide that are motivated, believe in themselves to support their music by touring on the road six or more months a year and by re-investing their humble profits into producing new CD's...all for the sake of the audience.

I first heard about Melissa Reaves when her manager Elizabeth West contacted me about an advertisement I had posted searching for touring acts that I could feature on our site.  The qualifications were pretty tough to separate the wheat from the chaff:  At least 2 CD's, radio play on at least 5 stations, a resume of major festivals, and a tour schedule that took them out of their home area for at least 3 months a year. 

Melissa had all of the requirements and then some...playing with major artists such as Sarah McLachlan, and touring throughout the East coast and as far West as Colorado.  I spent the next 2 months playing email-tag with Elizabeth trying to nail down a time where I could do an on-line live interview with Melissa.    After our interview I spoke with her on the phone and found out she was pretty much as I had suspected...a very polite, intelligent and gracious woman that loved to perform and lived for her fans.  Here is what she had to say:

<HotBands> Hi Melissa

<Melissa> Hi Pat.  Nice to "talk" to you

<HotBands> Thanks...likewise. I like to do the interviews over ICQ chat for the time being because the people that visit the website are READERS and it is the best way to capture the "essence" of a live interview. I go in after I save the chat and edit the typos, and grammatical errors though.

<Melissa> Sounds good -- we like the live "feel" as well

<HotBands> So where are you now?

<Melissa> Nederland, CO north of Boulder -- just for another day or two

<HotBands> Then on to??

<Melissa> Home -- Outside Boone, NC in the Blue Ridge Mountains until Labor day weekend -- then up to Wilmington, DE, Philadelphia & NYC for gigs

<HotBands> Wow!...quite a schedule. How many weeks a year would you say you average on the road?

<Melissa> I will guess around 30-35... a lot!!

<HotBands> The first "featured" band I had on was Carolyn Wonderland from Houston Texas...she is on the road about the same amount. Her main source of revenue comes from the sale of CD's after performances. Would you say that is also your main source of income?

<Melissa> Yes, we sell CD's, t-shirts, hats, stickers, general "band" merchandise. The CD sales are definitely a main source of revenue.

<HotBands> How many CD's do you presently have out, and  what are the names of the CD's?

<Melissa> Two full-length & one EP; Fall From Grace (1997), Lullaby for Belle (1998 EP), Sentimental Anthem (1999)

<HotBands> How would you classify your music for the readers?

<Melissa> Rock-n-roll, some funk, some R&B occasional blues...something like Janis meets Edgar Winter meets AC/DC!!

<HotBands> I've found that there are lots of bands out there, but so few that make it. The artists that really seem to do something with their music and make a splash are more or less full-time day gigs. They rely on their talents to carry them through (along with a prayer or two! )

<Melissa> For the most part that is true for me -- when I'm not on the road I'm scrambling for paint jobs -- houses etc by contract.   As a vocalist, it is sometimes difficult to "pick up" a gig unlike players, but my gigs are definitely full-time as much as possible
Masa Takahashi and Melissa Reaves
<HotBands> Do you have a regular band that travels with you, or do you rely on studio musicians in the area you are playing?

<HotBands> Tell me about them...names, what they play, etc.

<Melissa> I have musicians that I use regionally -- my guitar player is with me at most every gig but other players are based on either the NYC area or the southeast region.   Masa Takahashi, my guitar player, is based out of Boston... a Berklee Cat! He has been playing/touring with me for almost 4 years
Masa Takahashi and Melissa Reaves

<HotBands> What about your rhythm section?

<Melissa> My rhythm section depends.  They are regional.  Tim Breon is a bassist from Williamsport, PA along with Joel Vincent drums/percussion also from Williamsport.  These guys generally perform with me above the Mason-Dixon line!!!
Bill Scott (drummer /percussionist),  Matthew Donovan (keys) and  Rick Blackwell   (bass) are all from Charlotte... these guys perform with me in the southeast.

<HotBands> Are they the ones on your CD? And I take it Masa is with you full-time?

<Melissa> Masa is on CD & plays guitar & keys he is with me full-time!   Other players on CD are studio players & ME!

<HotBands> Great. How many instruments do you play?

<Melissa> Most string instruments except sitar...I haven't tried that one yet! Percussion & occasional drums (very occasionally for fun!)..oh yes & I can play the recorder!

<HotBands> Do you play recorder on any of the songs or during performances?

<Melissa> Not yet,  but that sounds fun now that you mention it.

<HotBands> By the way, I happen to have a sitar!

<Melissa> COOL I bet it's a warm sounding instrument -- I'd love to hear it and have the chance to play the sitar someday.

<HotBands> Do you have any CD's in the making?

<Melissa> We are working on putting a live album together -- my CD's have yet to really capture the dynamics of my stage performances

<HotBands>Do you have any music videos out currently?

<Melissa> No, just home recording type videos -- I'd love to get into that medium next!

<HotBands> I'm working with a company out of Seattle called Fog-City Productions. The owner, Jason Webb, is director for TCI cable here in the NW. He produces LOW COST music videos and runs a television show called "Rising Stars" 9 months out of the year that is broadcast coast to coast. He has won awards 7 of the last 8 years for best underground video.

<Melissa> I think I've seen that on a PBS channel or a local channel

<HotBands> Right...PBS. Anyhow, I'd like to hook you up with him sometime if you are up this way. As Hotbands grows, we've already discussed sending his crew on the road to do 3-day tours in cities and filming a dozen bands over a weekend.

<Melissa> That would be great -- in fact one of the bands I saw on there was from the Seattle area I believe

<Melissa> Sounds great -- just let me know & I'll put on my dancing shoes!

<HotBands> What would you say is the main reason you sing/perform?

<Melissa> I enjoy the affirmation from the audience & the energy exchange -- the give & take that goes on I really enjoy the performing aspect

<HotBands> What is the largest crowd you've ever played for?

<Melissa> Recently, the Lilith Fair (where she played with Sarah McLachlan) was probably about 12,000 but in 1996 I played in DC at their Pride Festival on the Mall.  I think there were close to 80,000 at that gig...of course I was among many other performers.

<HotBands> It's always a rush to be in front of that many people....I covered the Seattle Hemp-Fest last weekend, and was on the main-stage taking pics of the audience...the sea of people went on as far as you could see.

<Melissa> A rush...Yes, I'll say!  The DC gig was a bit nerve-racking but went well!  I saw your website with the photos -- it looked like a great show.

<HotBands> I'd like to talk with the director of the Hemp-Fest and the Seattle Peace Concerts about bringing in some outside talent for next years performances. I think it could be a great cross-city cultural exchange brought together through the internet. Eventually I want to have streaming video on the Hotbands site so we can do live concerts...kind of like a Rolling Stone Magazine mixed together with MTV!

<Melissa> That would be great -- I love getting into new regions to perform -- CO is a new region for me right now.  Just let me know & I'll gas up my van!

<HotBands> One of the questions that I ask almost all of the successful bands is mainly for the new artists that are out there in their "dark days" of the school of hard knocks....what advice would you give to a new band that you saw potential in as far as how to make it big and get the good gigs?

<Melissa> Be patient...especially with the folks that book the clubs!  For most of us it's never overnight.  Take care of yourself emotionally & mentally... it's a long hard roe to hoe! You'll need your well being sooner or later; whether on the side of the road with a broken van or a club owner backing out of paying you for your art.   Also, good business sense is essential...either you or someone willing to help you.

<HotBands> When you are on the road, do you stay at hotels, or do you usually book gigs at places where you have an "in" with a friend or relative?

<Melissa> All of the above!   My white Dodge van "Vanna White" is also equipped with a futon but lately we've been getting more rooms & staying places other than the van.  Friends are great as well & are pretty generous when we're in their towns. Sometimes it's difficult in towns where we've made so many friends because I'm often exhausted at the end of a night & it gets difficult to "entertain" after the gig!!

<HotBands> When do you think you'll next be on the West coast or in Texas?

<Melissa> Texas could be later this fall or mid-winter, but I've yet to play the West coast but am working on putting something together. I've met someone from W. Hollywood that books out there & hope to do a spring tour... unless you have any ideas for sooner!

<HotBands> The concert season here in Seattle is about over...or at least booked up for the remainder of the nice weather. The winter months rely on Pioneer Square gigs...a section of downtown that is really happening, but it's just clubs and not a huge audience like you can get at the festivals.
Flower Child

<HotBands> In closing, do you have anything else that you want to add about your band or yourself that you haven't already mentioned?

<Melissa> I'm grateful for the interview -- I love the festival gigs. My act seems to be made for a larger crowd, but my roots are certainly a big part of club gigs.

<HotBands> Thanks Pat for your support & patience with hooking this interview up!! I hope we get to meet soon.

<HotBands> No problem. I listened to your stuff a couple months back and knew that I wanted you as a featured band on our homepage as soon as I heard you. It's artists like yourself that inspire and drive the music industry of today. I wish you the best of success (I hate saying good luck...luck is for those that play dice) in all that you do!

<Melissa> Great! Keep in touch & let me know where you are & I'll keep you posted about gigs, new CD etc. This interview has been really pleasant & I'm glad we have the live "feel" going.   Thanks Pat... talk soon!

You can find out more about Melissa Reaves including tour schedule and downloadable sound samples by visiting her website at