LA singer-guitarist Erinn Alissa travels up the coast with stops in SYV

Photo courtesy of Erinn Alissa
HOME TEAM: LA-based artist Erinn Alissa’s full band is known as Erinn Alissa and the Low Volume Band, but she mostly performs as a solo act when traveling to Santa Barbara County and other areas outside of LA.

With about 200 gigs across California’s coast lined up per year, full-time musician Erinn Alissa rarely describes her work routine as monotonous.

“Of course there are shows that feel like work sometimes. Every job, no matter how much you love it, can feel like work,” she said. “But mostly I just love connecting with the audience and being able to share my gift. … I just feel grateful for what I get to do.”

It’s not unusual to find the LA-based singer-songwriter playing at wineries and tasting rooms in Santa Barbara County. Her next stint in Los Olivos is on Sunday, May 26, at Firestone Vineyard

That’s one of several Central Coast venues she’ll be performing at during the remainder of this spring and upcoming summer. Other spots she’s set to play at include Buellton’s Brick Barn Wine Estate and Santa Maria’s Rancho Sisquoc Winery.

“Weekending in wine country used to be like a getaway, and now I’m like, ‘Oh, it’s just a commute now,’” Erinn Alissa said with a laugh. “I do drive a ton, and it’s so I can do this full-time and make a career out of it.”

She often performs solo at gigs outside of LA County, but many of her LA-based shows are team efforts. She’s the frontwoman behind Erinn Alissa and the Low Volume Band. 

click to enlarge LA singer-guitarist Erinn Alissa travels up the coast with stops in SYV
Photo courtesy of Erinn Alissa
SOLO ROUND: Solo act Erinn Alissa—a singer-songwriter, guitarist, and cover artist based in Los Angeles—is slated to perform shows on May 26 and 29 at venues in the Santa Ynez Valley.

While the set lists during her full band concerts showcase a lot of her original music, she usually sticks to covers when it comes to winery appearances.

“I take cover songs, and I really try to make them my own,” said Erinn Alissa, whose favorite artists to cover include Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty. “I really take a lot of joy in doing that—twisting the song and making it mine.”

She described the songs she chooses to cover as a diverse mix, ranging “anywhere from the ’60s until present day, although I don’t do a ton of present day,” the performer clarified.

“I just learned a Taylor Swift song. … A 10-year-old girl requested it. I hate disappointing her, and all the kids that are into [Swift],” said the singer and guitarist, who can now play Swift’s “Anti-Hero” with ease.

If someone in the audience asks Erinn Alissa to cover a song that she’s familiar with but hasn’t tried playing herself, she’ll quickly look up the chords on her phone if there’s enough downtime and try to play it on the spot, she said.

Now that her career revolves around a guitar and mic, Erinn Alissa said it’s surreal to think about her earliest childhood memories of make-believe. She’d carry around a hairbrush and pretend it was a microphone.

“I always wanted to sing, ever since I was a tiny tot,” she said. “It was just always something I loved to do.”

She loved dancing as a kid too, and embraced musical theater as an outlet to both sing and dance during her teen years.

click to enlarge LA singer-guitarist Erinn Alissa travels up the coast with stops in SYV
Photo courtesy of Erinn Alissa
GUITAR HERO: Erinn Alissa is no stranger to packing her guitar and heading up the coast from LA to perform at various wineries and tasting rooms, including some in Los Olivos, Buellton, and Santa Maria.

Her acting chops came in handy later as an adult, when she took on a few film and TV roles shortly before committing to her music career. One of her favorite experiences was working with Will Ferrell in the basketball comedy Semi-Pro. She played one of the ball girls.

“He was awesome. He was so gracious and kind,” said Erinn Alissa, who also played a small part in another Ferrell feature, Step Brothers.

When Semi-Pro was released in theaters in 2008, the singer said Ferrell advocated for her and other cast members who would have missed the film’s red carpet event had he not intervened.

“They weren’t going to invite us [the ball girls] to the premiere. … Will was like, ‘I’m not going if they’re not going,’” she recalled with a laugh. “He’s the nicest man.”

Arts Editor Caleb Wiseblood still sings into his hairbrush. Send comments for him to comb through to [email protected].

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