C'mon on down, the Skallywagz arrrgh rockin' tonight
By Naughty Mickie firstname.lastname@example.org
I'll admit, it takes something special for a cover band to get my attention. In fact, I had seen the Skallywagz twice before I finally hit them up for a story. They are certainly deserving, as they have good musicianship, solid fans and are just downright nice.
Lisa Haze handles the bulk of the vocals, while the rest are spread around as best suits the remainder of the group, guitarist Joseph Palmeri, bassist Tommy Dean and drummer Dave Patt. And when we sat down to chat before one of their shows, Haze took the helm so the boyz could set up for the night.
"It started out as a children's party company because I was Cinderella for six years," Haze said of her business, Happiness Unlimited. "I was asked by the Make-A-Wish Foundation to be Cinderella for one of their kids that was wanting to see Cinderella, that was one of her wishes. From there it catapulted into something bigger and I started my own company. Now we send out everything from elephants to circus acts for adults and children. It's a lot of fun."
Haze also acts and models. Did I mention that she's a gorgeous blonde with sparkling blue eyes and a terrific figure? Yeah, she could make most women feel a little intimidated, but her beauty is even greater inside so that anyone she speaks with is immediately comfortable.
Haze met Joe Palmeri through another local band, the California Girls (with whom she toured Iraq and Afghanistan) and he asked if she would sing lead for his project, Skallywagz.
"It's a group of really really good friends and we just wanted to have a really good time and this is what we love to do," Haze explains.
I ask her to go back a bit further-- to her childhood.
"My mother was a singer and she actually sang back when you had to sing right to the vinyl and there was no going back," Haze responds.
Haze was in school plays and choirs while growing up. Her talents might just be hereditary, as her mother, Bobbie Ballard, sang with The Honeybees. Her mother also tap danced and still does.
"I kept getting thrown into music over and over again. When I was 15 I played in a battle of the bands, it was called Equis, and we won second place," Haze adds.
Her dreams were to be involved in music and travel the world, but she paused to try to continue her education.
"I always say I went to Orange Coast College (in Costa Mesa, California) so I could go to the beach. I majored in going to the beach and that's about it," Haze quips.
"My first job ever was a telemarketing job where we had to call people and talk to them about what they liked, like if they went to Jack-in-the-Box, what is their favorite sandwich. It was hard to get through the whole interview without them hanging up on you. After that I tried to work two waitressing jobs and put myself through college and I kept falling asleep in school. I wouldn't get home from the second waitress job until two or three in the morning and It tried to go to Orange Coast College at eight in the morning, so finally the money won out. I think the strangest job I've had is doing the Cinderella thing. I saw everything, people from every walk of life, it is still an amazing thing," Haze says. "What I want to do is spread the happiness, like Happiness Unlimited, we all need that."
Haze still occasionally dons her princess gear, but not so often that she can't pursue her hobbies.
"My favorite thing to do is travel and I go horseback riding- love it," Haze shares.
"Do you have a horse?" I ask.
"I'd love to have one, but I can't fit it in my apartment," laughs Haze.
We return to the Skallywagz. The band doesn't perform any original tunes, but has an expansive range of covers, in genres as diverse as blues, R&B, disco, classic rock, metal and country.
"A lot of times we'll get our party songs that people will know," Haze says of their choice of material. "They get up and start dancing with us and singing with us and we invite people to come up on stage if they want to sing. Just feel-good songs that everybody knows, but we try to pick a big variety, everything from Led Zeppelin to Donna Summer."
So what does she think of the music scene?
"I like every kind of music, but a lot of times I find the rap is getting a little too risque and violent," replies Haze."I have no children of my own, but I have nieces and nephews and I see the attitudes in the kids, particularly the younger ones, that it's becoming so hard, so street-smart, and that scares me. What about the future? What's it going to be like?"
In addition to the Skallywagz, Haze also performs with the Moonshine Mountain Boys and the California Girls, with whom she will be returning to Iraq and Afghanistan for another tour.
"That was the most amazing trip I ever went on," Haze recalls. "We stayed in tents, we stayed on the front line. It was frightening sometimes. Every base that we were at there was some kind of bombing going on or shooting and they told us 'If you hear anything, then here's the bunkers, go in there.' Some of these places there's no locks on the doors or the tents. But then other places were really nice, we had steak and lobster and there was a dining facility and it was just amazing.
"The soldiers, they were so thankful that we took the time to come over there. I would do it for free, I really would. It was something good for your heart to know that they're over there fighting for us and being there for us.
"I had no idea what was going on over there," Haze continues. "So many people ask me and the guys say, 'Please tell them why we're here. Please tell people who don't understand why we're in Iraq and Afghanistan.' A lot of people say, 'Why don't they come back?' But we're doing so much over there for the Iraqis and the Afghanis and they're thanking us because we're there. They're thanking us all the time and it's because we're bringing them satellite and computers. This is all the stuff they were cut off from when Sadam was in power. A lot of them are still bombing us and they don't like us because they feel Sadam is going to come back into power and kill them for supporting us. That's the problem, there's a big lack of understanding."
It sounds as if Haze is doing more than most people even dare to dream, but she's thrilled with her busy life.
"You never have too many I think. I just love it, I'm having the time of my life," Haze says.
True to form, she left me with some positive closing thoughts from her and the Skallywagz.
"I want everybody to just come on down and enjoy our music and have a good time and take life lightly because it's so short. Be good to yourself and your friends and your family," Haze smiles.
Learn more about Haze and the Skallywagz and get to one of their shows: