Lisa Fischer called Saturday morning before the Rolling Stones concert in Columbus, Ohio, the second gig on the band’s tour. Their third show is Wednesday at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. But first, Fischer, a Stones backup singers since 1989, will perform Sunday night and Monday night in the intimate confines of the Dakota Jazz Club, where she gave mesmerizingly artful performances in September and December last year.
Between I-just-got-up yawns (not to mention a pending 5 a.m. departure for MSP on Sunday), Fischer shared some things about her gigs and the Stones. Here are 10 things you might want to know.
- The Dakota is Fischer’s only club gig during the Stones’ Zip Code Tour. “I’m excited. I get to come back to the living room,” she gushed. The rest of her gigs, with her group Grand Baton, during the tour are at jazz festivals.
- Stones drummer Charlie Watts and guitarist Ron Wood showed up to see Fischer’s performance at Hollywood’s Catalina Club (which is about the size of the Dakota) when the Stones were rehearsing for the tour in Van Nuys, Calif. “I was personally surprised to see them out and about,” she said.
- Stones saxophonist Tim Ries and backup singer Bernard Fowler will perform Tuesday at the Dakota. “Bernard is an amazing singer,” Fischer said, adding that Stones bassist Darryl Jones sat in with that ad hoc ensemble in Ohio. “Tim’s a good player. They do what they feel. They’re so cool.”
- Fischer doesn’t know the Stones set list -- compiled by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards in their separate dressing rooms -- until shortly before the show. However, she said they have rehearsed “a lot of different things” -- way more than the 19 or so songs they play each night.
- Fischer says she arrives at the stadium about six hours before show time for a Stones concert.
- Her vocal warmup is pretty much the same for her soft singing at the tiny Dakota as it is for loud singing at the mammoth Gophers football stadium. But her personal prep time is way different. To do hair, makeup and wardrobe for a Stones show, she sets aside about 2 1/2 hours. “I take my time,” she admitted.
- When she tours with the Stones, she observed, “I travel with a large city: The wardrobe people, the makeup people, the hair people, the trainer, security. It’s a lot of people.”
- Fischer thinks there is a big difference between stadium and arena gigs. “Outdoors is more physically demanding because of the elements. We’re not sure what the weather’s going to be and you have to dress accordingly. We’ve done gigs in snow, in rain, in sweltering heat.” As for big Stones gigs vs her small club gigs, she said, “I feel so accustomed to doing the stadiums and arenas that it feels like home. It’s more intense in clubs but it’s more physically demanding covering the space on the stage” for the bigger shows. “Both of them feel comfortable to me.”
- What is going to come first: a new Stones album or a new Fischer album? She laughed. “I don’t know; that’s a good question,” she said. She has no idea what the Stones are planning. “I’m usually the last to know about a tour; the fans let me know.” Having not released an album since her 1991 Grammy-winning debut, Fischer said she’d like to get in the studio with Grand Baton and create songs there rather than writing them in advance and then recording them. “I want it to be a living experience,” she said. When asked if she would consider doing a live album or DVD (possibly at the Dakota), she said, “Ummm. I would like that.”
- In February, Fischer won a Grammy for best soundtrack for “20 Feet from Stardom,” the Oscar-winning documentary about backup singers including Merry Clayton, Judith Hill and Claudia Lennear. The Grammy is at Fischer’s manager’s office in New York City. The Grammy that she won 24 years ago sits on a white shelf at home with her stereo equipment and television.