Alysa Volpe, Tucson born and Sahuarita raised, turns 40 in December and often reflects on how her hometown has changed over the years, admitting she likes this current phase. One of the first wave of Flam Chen performers in 1996, Volpe toured with Tucson's Not Breathing and got to open for their shows in the Northwest after moving there in 1998. In Portland, she got a fine arts degree and returned to her hometown about 10 years ago where she fell in love with our caliche paradise all over again as the art curator at Shot in the Dark and then an organizer for the All Souls' personal altar and a short stint with a mortgage company. Now, besides her duties as mom to six-year-old Atticus, Volpe teaches yoga, meditation and mindfulness at Miraval Resort and at Tucson Yoga. You can read about her yoga and mom adventures on her blog alysavolpe.blogspot.com.
What was the first concert you attended? My first concert was Stacey Q in 1986. I won tickets to see her via 92 K-Fox. My Dad took me and two of my friends. What a brave and good papa he was.
What are you listening to these days?
There is a lot of stuff that has stayed on permanent rotation since I was a kid: David Bowie, The Smiths, Beastie Boys, The Velvet Underground, Serge Gainsbourg, Miles Davis, but I love Santigold, Blind Willie McTell, Blouse, Tamaryn, Lykke Li, Jolie Holland, Glasser, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Dustin O'Halloran and Cat Power. I like it all, depending on my mood and scenario.
What was the first album you owned?
The first album I owned was Cyndi Lauper's "She's So Unusual." The first one I paid for was INXS' "Kick" but what probably got me super excited was a mixtape my brother Jon made for me when I was 10. It had The Doors on one side and The Cure's "Head on the Door" on the other. It totally crushed my Glitter Teeny Bopper Rainbow World forever.
What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone seem to love, but you just don't get?
The musician I don't get is Ted Nugent ... I mean, really? He's not particularly gifted or amazing at anything other than being a total jerk but people pay him money. I can't imagine it has much to do with his talent as a musician but more having a public place to justify their hatred and ignorance under the guise of going to a concert. Boo.
What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?
I think seeing The Stooges would be something to remember.
What is your favorite guilty pleasure?
I don't embarrass easily so I can't say I have "a guilty pleasure," but I do get a weird sense of joy when I hear covers of songs that I used to think of as sacred or just really bad. Taken by Trees does a great cover of Guns N Roses' "Sweet Child O' Mine" and Florence and The Machine does a surprisingly sweet cover of "Addicted to Love" by Robert Palmer.
What song would you like to have played at your funeral?
Funeral songs can easily ruin a song for the living but I think Edith Piaf's "Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien" would be pretty great, dramatic and just a bit ridiculous. I mean, I would want my funeral to be a celebration, but they might as well play something that lets the sobbers have their moment. Crying is good.
What artist changed your life and how?
The artist that changed my life may seem cliché, but at the time and considering my upbringing, I would say Madonna. She was everything my mother told me a well behaved woman shouldn't be so I loved her. Of course, she needs to let herself age gracefully and really embrace the messages she used to stand for like female empowerment and self-acceptance. She seems to have fallen into the status quo these days.
Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?
"Abbey Road." Good stuff.