Sherri Cohen
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DEC. 11-17, 2002

Ten things you should know about Valerie C. Wisecracker
— as told to Jake Cline, City Link magazine, Dec. 11, 2002

1. “To call me a folksinger is a stretch. I’m obviously an acoustic musician. Some of my stuff is very folky. But it depends on the venue. If I’m playing an old-timey place, I’ll be playing old-timey music. If I’m playing a kind of blues-and-jazz club, hey, I’ll crank it out. I can play a lot of different styles because I’ve been playing for so long.”

2. “A lot of people can write like Bob Dylan — you don’t want to hear them. I have a friend, he’s a great local singer-songwriter. He came running up to me and said, ‘I’m gonna be the next Jimmy Buffett.’ I just put my hand on his shoulder and said, ‘Jimmy’s not dead yet. Be who you are; don’t be Jimmy Buffett.’ ”

3. “Give me a heckler, and I’ll bring them to their knees. That’s what I do. I’d pay someone to heckle me if I had the money.”

4. “I rarely leave Florida. I love Florida. The cold, to me, is a foreign thing. To me, the thought of an environment that can kill you, that’s screwed up.”

5. “The city of Miami grew exactly at the same pace that I did. When I was a little girl, Miami was a little nothing town. I terrorized Miami. Me and my sailboat, we were everywhere. When I was 12, I was going, ‘There’s no culture; there’s no good music.’ Then — boom! — the New Yorkers came in. The first wave of Cubans came in — boom! — culture. Can you think of any other town that has matured so quick like that? I always say, all my rich friends who went to school, they moved away, they went to Europe. I stayed here, and the world came to me.”

6. “To me, it’s kind of conceited to put out a CD.”

7. “Here’s the thing: You’ve got a million people right now who are singer-songwriters and Daddy’s paying the bills every month. The rent check is there. The studio time is there. It’s all there for them. And they’re pissing and moaning about how wrong the world is, but they’re not talking about what needs to be done to make it better. That, to me, is like spitting in the wind.”

8. “I think my songs are actually very, very radical, but they’re not delivered in a real preachy way. They don’t hit you over the head. They’re kind of fun: ‘you get a cookie with your song’ kind of thing. I don’t think people want to get yelled at or preached at. People don’t want to feel bad about themselves. They’re not the ones who did these things. Maybe they’re the people who could help make things better.”

9. “I worked at every news station in Miami with the exception of [WSVN-Channel] 7. You gotta draw the line somewhere.”

10. “Do you want to know that I put myself through college working as a go-go dancer at the Castaways Wreck Bar? … It was all legit. In the ’70s, it was the club. The Rat Pack would go there. All the great bands would come in there and play, and I would make lots of money. … I was so young that I didn’t even realize the stuff that was going on around me. I wasn’t even old enough to drink. As soon as I got my job in television, I quit the Wreckette thing. … Please make sure that you say I was covered, not, you know …”

Valerie C. Wisecracker

members: Valerie C. Wisecracker (vocals, banjo, guitar)

comments: A third-generation Floridian, Wisecracker has been singing and writing songs about her favorite state in the Union practically since the day she learned to talk. “I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing songs,” says the outspoken author of such biting, hysterical numbers as “The Dirty Little Rat That Ate Orlando” and the recent “Bin Laden’s Got a Small One.” Though she often performs accompanied by just her guitar, banjo and trademark wit, Wisecracker occasionally appears with a backing band called The Walking Catfish, which features multi-instrumentalist Wes Malkin and bassist Mitch Mestel. The band’s former harmonica player, Mike Palecki, now serves on Florida’s Public Services Commission. Wisecracker, who recently began performing under the Wisecracker sobriquet because she got tired of people mispronouncing and misspelling her name, doesn’t like to be called a folksinger or be constrained by any other such labels. “No matter what your genre is, I believe that if you sing what you know, if you sing and write tunes that you can get behind, it’s great,” Wisecracker says. “I don’t care if you blow in your music. I don’t care how bad you are so long as you’re sincere in what you’re doing and are having a good time. I’ll play with the lousiest players in the world for hours and really enjoy it because what they’re doing is for real.” Wisecracker eschews competitions. “I don’t enter songwriting contests, because I don’t think songwriting is a competitive sport,” she says. “It’s really great, and it does help you get good spots in festivals, but the kind of music I do is not the kind of music that’s gonna win a songwriting contest anyway.” A real-estate agent by day, Wisecracker last month completed a two-week concert tour of the East Coast. A regular on the festival circuit, she is actually quite choosy about where she plays. “The standard line is, ‘You know, it’s great exposure,’ ” she says of venue owners and festival planners who try to cajole her into playing dubious gigs. “Yeah, well people die from exposure.” That said, look for Wisecracker in all her wisecracking glory at this Friday’s City Link Music Fest.

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