Arts & Entertainment
2 min

Solo Johnette Napolitano

Concrete Blonde lead vocalist unplugs

The Concrete Blonde singer goes solo and acoustic. Credit: Catherine Copenhaver

Johnette Napolitano is an American singer-songwriter and bassist best known as the vocalist for Concrete Blonde. But don’t expect any rip-roaring riffs at her upcoming Toronto show; this time around, Johnette is going acoustic.

“I’ve known for years I would want to record an acoustic record but that there would be a place and time to do it, and I think it's a good time now,” Napolitano says. “I'm looking through 30 years of songs, obviously Concrete Blonde songs, covers, songs I've worked on for films, unreleased songs and new songs.

"I'm enjoying solo shows, as I'm essentially a loner. I started playing guitar on my bed when I was nine or so, and I'm feeling that again now,” she says.

Reflecting back on the darker, gothic sounds of Concrete Blonde’s 1990 album Bloodletting, Napolitano says, “What can I say? My life sucked. I was in a bad mood and on my period. Let’s not take it all that seriously.”

With her Toronto show falling on Halloween, and leading into Day of the Dead, she says, “I find it comforting and healthy to take time to remember and party with those who have crossed. They are not as far away as you think. Day of the Dead is a Mexican holiday, and I prefer it over Halloween, conceptually.”

Beyond her solo work, Napolitano is also part of a new musical project called Tres Vampires, with David J (Bauhaus, Love and Rockets) and DJ Shok (Kantor). The trio has recorded a couple of tunes, but when asked about an album release or live dates, Napolitano says, “I love those tracks, but it's very hard to get us all together, everyone is so busy.”

Napolitano recently played a gig in New York City. “It was amazing. I felt like myself, like I was 12 again, playing my guitar for the fun of it,” she says. She read from her book, Rough Mix, and sang several songs. “I can get very emotional because that’s how I started when I was a kid, so it’s sort of full circle.” As for the Toronto show, she divulges, “I’ll be test driving a few new ones and, of course, delivering Concrete Blonde classics that I wrote on acoustic in the first place. I'm not a nostalgia act. I must move forward, or I can't live.”