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Who’s Playing Tonight

Mike SalesAn interview with Ari
By Mike Sales

One night, about three years ago, I’d just sat down to have coffee with a group of friends and wasari settling into what was bound to be the usual conversation, when an electric personality came bounding in, sat down and proceeded to light up the room.

I’d heard of people possessing this quality before. In Hollywood, this characteristic is simply referred to as “it.”

I’ve since come to know her as a wonderful singer named Ari, part of “Nic and Ari”, who are no less than the darlings of the Sarasota music scene, a perfect match, both musically and as a couple and a joy to watch perform as a duo, or with their band, “Ari & the Alibis.” I met up with both of them one rainy afternoon for an interview. Nic will be featured in a future article. This is Ari…

WPT: Where are you originally from?

Ari: I was born and raised in Sarasota Florida.

WPT: When did you start singing?

Ari: I was 3 or 4. My dad was a professional singer and I grew up seeing it.

WPT: How did you pick up your first gigs?

Ari: I was waiting tables at Mattison’s City Grille. My co-workers noticed me singing along with the bands and urged me to get up on stage.

WPT: So…you got discovered singing during your waitress shift?

Ari: Not right away. I was nervous. I’d forget the words and actually, found out later that I’d failed an unofficial audition with the Ventura’s that way. Everyone insisted that I sing, and eventually, I was asked to learn eight tunes, for a private gig with “Eclipse.”

WPT: And after that, you joined the band?

Ari: I moved to Texas, returned, went for lunch at Mattison’s, ran into Buster and was offered a job with “Eclipse”, to sing every Friday.

WPT: How did you find your way into “Lotus Fire”?

Ari: They found me; Nicholas, who’d been toying with the idea of picking up a singer, heard me singing “besame mucho” at Mattison’s as he walked down Main St and asked me to work with him.

WPT: When did you start writing songs?

Ari: I used to write original reggae tunes, just for fun. I was really into “Sublime”, “Buju Banton” and a lot of “Bob Marley”. I didn’t perform any of them, but when Nic asked me to sing I replied, “sure, can I sing in Spanish?” He really liked that, since he was playing Flamenco, and asked me to write Spanish lyrics for his songs.

WPT: When did you learn Spanish?

Ari: I’d always been fascinated with the language and took classes in high school. After I had my first child, we moved, to Texas to be with his father’s family who only spoke Spanish. I brought the language and love of the culture back with me, when I returned here, pregnant with my second child.

WTP: How many pieces do you have in your current band “Ari & The Alibis?”

Ari: We have a drummer, a trombone, guitar, myself singing lead & fronting the band and we’re currently switching back & forth but looking for a permanent bassist to give us the cohesiveness that will take us to the next level.

WPT: What are your career goals for the band?

Ari: We’d like to really hone our songs and sound, record an album, tour, play festivals, sell CDs and merchandise, get our name out there, support it with the website, publicity photos, and press, win over fans, one at a time with our live performances, on which we thrive. Ultimately, we’d like to be signed to a record label and see national success and additional revenue streams through music licensing, airplay, endorsements and royalties.

We’re already talking about going to Cleveland, Pennsylvania, Buffalo NY and Toronto this year and schedule gigs along the route and as we head back home.

WPT: What can the audience expect to hear at your gigs?

Ari: A lot of fusion. Each band member, takes our songs, draws on their own style and blends together to create a truly unique sound. We still play jazz, swing, but with the feel of disco and funk…there’s love songs, ballads, blues, rock, hints of various other influences and of course, Flamenco. Nic, built a Flamenco guitar into an electric guitar frame, so he could bring that style to this band.

WPT: Do you play originals at your gigs?

Ari: We try to mix our originals with about 50% covers, blending them through the night.

WPT: Which local musicians do you go see play?

Ari: We’re very good friends with Come Back Alice, who’ve taken an interest in us and are a great band. I love Ali and the Ventura’s and Lauren Mitchell. We try to make it to Thorson’s Jam at the 5’O when we can.

WPT: What is your favorite part about being a fulltime musician?

Ari: We started this band to have fun, not to take it seriously. We wanted a project that would enable us to goof off, have fun and enjoy playing music again, because we missed rockin’ out. So, we mix it up to stay interested. I have a little bit of ADHD. I jump around on stage…you’ll see that. I drink a lot of Red bull, scream, shout and let it all out.

Being a musician was something that I never asked to do. It was something I had to do…that I was meant to do. When the opportunity presented itself, I went with it and have never questioned it or looked back. It’s my purpose.

WPT: What is your message to your audience?

Ari: No matter what we’re going through, good or not, it’s all a part of life. I myself have had to deal with separating the partying from the gigs, which Nic and a wonderful fellowship helped me overcome. Nic and I have had our share of challenges we mostly created and worked through. We write about all of it. It all has a place. When we play slow songs, fast songs, sad songs and silly songs, it’s because we’ve felt all of those things at one time or another. You can come to see us and find something you can identify with and feel welcome however you are that day.