If the only thing you know about Lisa Loeb is that she sings “that song” from “that movie,” she wants you to know she’s OK with that.
“For the amount of time it’s taken for me to get here and to have had such a successful career, I’ve come to realize people have a special connection to it (Stay (I Missed You)),” she said, referring to her 1994 hit from the “Reality Bites” soundtrack that spent three weeks atop Billboard’s Hot 100 chart and helped launch her career. “And that song means a lot to me, as it does to them.”
But as dear as she holds the angst-ridden anthem of ’90s love and heartache, Loeb hasn’t allowed it to define her career.
Since 1995, she has recorded six studio albums, including the Grammy-nominated “Firecracker” in 1997. And such hits as “I Do” and “Do You Sleep?” have joined “Stay” in cracking Billboard’s Top 20.
Most recently, the L.A.-based songstress has been focused on her series of popular “family music” albums that includes 2016’s “Feel What U Feel,” which won the 2018 Grammy Award for Best Children’s Album. Loeb’s latest offering, 2017’s “Lullaby Girl,” features her own interpretations of such popular songs as “O-o-h Child,” “Dream a Little Dream,” “Rainbow Connection” and “In My Room.”
As you can see, even if Loeb’s OK with it, you’re missing out if “Stay” is your sole point of familiarity.
But your chance at redemption is near. The Janesville Performing Arts Center will host “An Evening With Lisa Loeb” at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 23, and tickets are just $35.
“When you have a mainstream artist like her performing here, it shows Janesville is able to bring in top entertainment,” said JPAC Executive Director Nathan Burkart.
“And she fits our venue so well,” he added. “She doesn’t put on a huge rock show with huge amps and speakers. She comes in solo playing her guitar and singing songs she wrote and has topped the charts with. We think our space showcases people like that well.”
Loeb agrees JPAC is an ideal fit for her type of shows, as she prefers playing smaller, more intimate venues as opposed to large stadiums.
“(JPAC) totally suits the kind of performance I like, because buildings like that are built for listening,” she said. “A lot of what I do is not broad strokes, and sometimes, when you get into those larger venues, you end up giving a more broad performance. I can do that, but I prefer more subtlety.
“Places that are set up for listening work well for me, and I think they work well for the audience.”
Smaller houses also put Loeb into closer proximity to her fans, making it easier to connect.
“I like to interact,” she said. “I like to be able to feel what’s going on with the audience and tailor my shows to that. I always have a set list, but I often stray from it. I don’t go on auto-pilot, and I try to keep my shows different from city to city and night to night.”
Loeb’s shows might change, but you can expect to hear “Stay” along with many of her other original creations. You should also plan to hear songs from her children’s albums, but don’t get the wrong idea. Her brand of “kids’ music” is designed to entertain all ages.
“My interest in making family music came before I was married or had a family,” said Loeb, who turns 50 on March 23 and is now married with two children.” I didn’t have much knowledge of children, and the music was more about my connection to nostalgia and my own childhood.”
Loeb says she grew up watching “Sesame Street,” “The Muppet Show” and repeats of “Fractured Fairy Tales” on “The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show.” With her family, nights were spent in front of the TV on “The Carol Burnett Show,” “All in the Family,” “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” and “The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson.”
Remembering how the varying degrees of humor and silliness bridged the generational gap in her own family, she tries to use her chosen art form—music—to do the same for others today.
“(Lullaby Girl) was supposed to be a baby lullaby record, but it didn’t end up being that at all,” she explained. “I think it will soothe children, but it’s also good listening for grown-ups. Who would have thought about making a record like that for grown-ups?”
Whatever she’s doing, Loeb seems to have found the right formula. In the past two months, she has performed not only across the U.S. but also in Canada and Mexico. She continues to manage her signature line of eyewear and her brand of organic, fair-trade coffee; she picks up the occasional acting gig here and there, and she recently recorded a version of “All The Young Dudes” as part of a David Bowie retrospective project for “The Howard Stern Show.”
She’s busy, but she’s thankful.
“I get tired all the time, but that’s OK,” she said. “I always have another burst of energy because there is something I want to do or need to do. It’s been like that my whole life. But I never forget that (being able to perform) is something special, and that I’m lucky to be able to do this.
“I always get nervous before shows but, in the end, people always have a good time,” she added. “I’ve spent years on my craft, and now I’m able to step back and enjoy it. I can see how the audience feels by their reaction. I still push myself, but I know they are there for me. We go through a lot during the show, but I enjoy it, I’m good at it, and it’s still fun.”