Bethpage and Plainview offer access to an uncommon concentration of green spaces right in the middle of the Island. On the eastern edge of Nassau County, these quiet and cozy hamlets seem like the gateway to the more wooded and countrified byways of Suffolk. The area’s extensive park grounds, from Bethpage State Park and Battle Row to the Old Bethpage Village Restoration Park and Magnetto Hills, enhance the hamlets’ quaint character.
And so these ‘burbs make the perfect crock pot for what singer-songwriter Lisa Matassa calls “Long Island Country Rock.”
Matassa trained early on: she began voice lessons at nine, then studied opera with an alumna of the Metropolitan Opera for another five years. But it was when a dance producer heard her perform with a local band called Recovery that she got her chance at a recording contract. At nineteen years old she was over the moon to join Emergency Records, with which she recorded two singles that broke the Top Ten on national dance charts: “I’ve Got the Hots For You” and “Rock Me Baby.”
And yet Lisa was unhappy with the direction of her fledgling music career; she felt that anyone could sing these catchy, over-produced club anthems. Instead she wanted to record her own songs, ones that might better showcase her vocal talent and rock ‘n’ roll roots. Unfortunately Emergency Records was already well on the decline and past the point of recovery. It formally dissolved within months of her last single’s release.
And so by 1989 she felt her life heading in a different direction. She married and settled down in Plainview to raise a family. Often she would still find excuses to perform in Long Island clubs, or take the occasional trip to a gig in Manhattan. On the side she also did commercial voice-over work with Digital Waterworks, a Plainview based company.
Only a few years ago, she felt a change coming again. She wanted to take a chance at recording again. At the time Matassa met with friend and producer Joey Sykes, whose résumé includes such diverse acts as Don Henley, Meredith Brooks, and Third Eye Blind. Sykes so happened to have a handful songs he wanted to record, though he couldn’t find the right voice to perform them. It was a lesson in serendipity.
And soon other major players were also on board to help cultivate Matassa’s sound, one by parts Southern Rock, folk, and pop. This year she teamed up with two-time Grammy-nominated executive producer Bobby Graziose to create the album Me Time, recorded for LMA Productions and It Is What It Is Records at the Cove City Sound Studios, where major Long Island recording artists like Billy Joel and Mariah Carey once also put sound to tape. Musical director Tony Bruno, who presently works with Rihanna, also signed on to guide the project’s development.
“Not many mothers with teenagers embark on a recording career later in life,” Matassa admits; she likens this next phase to some sort of fairy tale come true. And it certainly begs the question… How many of you have a country-rocker living next door?
Lisa Matassa’s Me Time will be released early this Spring, led by the single “I Don’t Feel Anything,” which has been made available as a preview on the independent music social network, ReverbNation.
To find out more, visit her website or check out her interview in this week’s Newsday.