By Peter Vankevich
To listen to Dogs of Santiago and Cowgirls Meet (On Guadalupe Street), click at bottom of article.
To read other profiles in the Heard on Ocracoke series and hear their original music, click here.
As I walked down Howard Street to catch Lipbone Redding’s performance at last year’s Ocrafolk Festival, I heard the classic “St. James Infirmary” performed in a raspy, jazzy voice. Then I noted, “Wow, he has a horn player with him.” When I looked at the stage it was just this guy sporting a fedora and playing a guitar.
Lawrence “Lipbone” Redding has a talent for making a variety of sounds with his voice—especially the trombone, for which he got the moniker “Lipbone”—that characterizes him as voice instrumentalist.
How he developed this talent is a good story.
“I was a subway musician in New York City for about three years,” he said. “It was a cavernous reverb chamber, and I started making a lot of sounds to entertain myself including the trains and mimicking a trombone player.”
Raised in Greenville and hearing about storied New York City, he decided to try it out and headed north on a Greyhound bus.
“I was young and there was talk of creative freedom, schools and music and theater and this glamorous image of the city,” he said. “But when I got there it wasn’t like in the movies.”
Like many artists in the Big Apple, he held other jobs–a carpenter, a bartender–but he views his time there as a spiritual journey.
“There would be all these sorts of crazy characters who would wander through my world,
including jazz musicians which is a story unto itself,” he said.
Adding to his subway busking and a seven-year gig at Jules Jazz Bistro on historic St. Mark’s Place in the East Village, he worked at the Museum of Sound Recording where a lot of avant-garde jazz musicians would come in.
“That provided a background in music improv,” he said. “Listening to them, I just wanted to jump in and join them.”
As a performer, Redding translates his life experiences into both story and song in which one can detect shades of New Orleans, swing jazz and blues. His rich baritone voice has a nice range.
“I have a background in stories and theater and really love to explore the details and depth of characters in both song and story,” he said.
Though he was new to the festival last year, Redding is no stranger to Ocracoke, having made many family vacation visits growing up.
“I love Ocrafolk because you can hang out with the audience and make friends,” he said about the festival. “It provides the opportunity for the artists who have never met to jump on stage and perform together.”
At one of the festival workshops, he joined Michael Stanwood who was playing an Indonesian instrument.
“I started making a drum noise to accompany him and made sounds on top of it, and then Bob Zentz jumped in and it became this old sea shanty-meets Indonesia with a Lipbone middle,” he laughed.
Redding performs solo and with the Lipbone Orchestra.
He has recorded six albums and the most recent is “Esmeralda.” His song, “Hollywood An’ Vine,” on the album, “Hop the Fence,” is on the soundtrack of A&E’s television program “Parking Wars.”
Last year, he put out a special Christmas song called Santa’s Tropic Hideaway.
Lipbone will be back in the line-up at this year’s Ocrafolk Fesitival June 2 to 4.
For more info, check out his website and his Facebook page.
To listen to Dogs of Santiago:
To listen to Cowgirls Meet (On Guadalupe Street) :