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Lorijo Manley: Press

The best surprises to come out of Spud's Parlor are the musicians that absolutely blow Don and I away. Lorijo Manley has blown us away with the attention to her craft, her excellent timing and eclectic style. She is much more than a singer/songwriter - the whole band can be heard in her solo guitar arrangements. Her original songs will live inside your head to the point where if you didn't buy her CD you'll wish you had!!!!

Her treatment of covers surprises, yet stay true to the character of the composer. She plays with the kind of fire and enthusiasm that turns audience members into participants. This woman is the Real Thing, totally authentic, a dedicated musician, on her way to greatness. Take it from us and then hear for yourself.
Marisa Everett - Coda Craft Productions
Powerful heart
author: Anna
Naked is Lorijo and her guitars – with her skill and passion it's a complete package – you don't need anything else. The instrumental intro to Seven Sea Ships is pure joy. Her finger picking weaves lyrical magic, she draws you in and fills your heart. You are left in wonder of the complexity she creates with six strings. But there is so much more than acoustical finesse. Like the proverbial box of chocolates, Naked delivers a variety of tasty morsels. In Transitory Testament she picks up the electric axe and soars. The electric effects dance beautifully with the haunting melody. I am left torn between wondering how she does it and just sitting back and enjoying the ride. It is a journey to savor. Lorijo is a excellent storyteller, her lyrics tell the tales of forgotten ones, with compassion, love, and hope. Her characters become familiar friends or reflections of your own fears and foibles. Yet always there is hope and the challenge to step forward in your own strength and beauty. “Amazing grace for the whole human race – make it last.” And through her music, you know we can.
"Lorijo Manley will blow you away with her 'humanistic funk rock' style. A premier vocalist and uniquely gifted guitarist, with a sound unlike anything you've ever heard...an incredible blend. This woman doesn't just play the guitar; she attacks it."
Richard Lynch, Airplay Producer - WNUR
"Lorijo Manley plays guitar like...like...she plays a really good guitar. Fast. Funky. Rhythmic and powerful. She melts her guitar picks with clockwork precision."
Gustav Plympton - AntiMatters
"Showstopper."
Linus Gelber, CEO - Home Office Records
" I wish you could watch this woman play guitar. She knows her way around the fingerboard. Impressive."
Frederick Geobold - WBAI
"She makes magic through her music. I swear she was channeling Jimi Hendrix through her fingers, 'cause her guitar playing was pretty spectacular."
Ran - Outwords
Something about her brings to mind a female Lenny Kravitz. In a gig last fall at Biddy Mulligan's, a patron mentioned her "huge stage presence" to a companion. When this kudo was passed along to her, Lorijo Manley, with typical humility, credited her cowboy boots, which augment a height somewhere around 5' 5".

A more likely source for the praise, however, is the fact that she plays the hell out of her guitar, has a 100-megawatt smile and puts two tons of heart into her singing.

She says she was literally born to perform: "When I was born, they tell me I grabbed the doctor's stethoscope like a microphone."

Lorijo has been supporting herself solely with her music for over four years, earning her keep at local venues such as Beat Kitchen, Not Just Pasta, Lottie's Pub, Roy's, Urbus Orbis, and the Blind Faith Cafe. She is playing July 29 at the Gallery Cabaret, 2020 N. Oakley in Bucktown.

On July 11 Lorijo played at the Gallery Cabaret. Most of the customers paid her the ultimate compliment; they shut up, absorbed, smiling, bobbing their heads, tapping their feet...she makes you feel sorry for all those who spend hours on artifice to achieve what this woman was, evidently, born with.

The club's most remarkable aspect is the art that lines its walls, paintings that combine the best and the worst of Walt Disney, the Night Gallery, and Heironymus Bosch.

She plays a classical guitar modified with a pickup. Lorijo puts out a big sound using just the guitar, an amp, and her voice. The voice shows great range; penetrating, pure, powerful, passionate, seductive, angelic, and refined. Often joyous, her voice climbs from a suggestive whisper to a leather-lunged, heartbreaking sweet shout, in perfect control. In the upper ranges she hits a penetrating pitch reminiscent of Aretha Franklin.

Fulsome praise? Go find out for yourself.

Between songs she does a bit of gentle patter, somewhere between standup and segue, creating a dialogue with the audience. Her physical style is earthy - black jeans, cowboy boots and constant movement.

Tonight Lorijo does a few songs with electric bassist Christopher Wagner, briefly forming a trio later with William Soto, The threesome elicits that rare applause that wells up unbidden in the middle of a song. Later, sans bassist and harp, Lorijo plays an impromptu set with renaissance flutist Jamie Lynn Paradise, also drawing applause before the customary time.

Music's noblest aim, perhaps, is to free you from the world of potholes, bosses and downsizing. To ride on the wings of a greater power toward all that is pure, alive and good. Yes, Mr. Poe, there is a balm in Gilead.

Toward the end of her performance an admirer declared, "You sound so much better without the trains going by." To explain, Manley has also earned her daily bread with a mic, a guitar, and an open guitar case along the subway section of the Howard line el. She still plies her trade there two or three times a week.

What has she gotten out of the el experience?

"The fact that I'm still alive," she says, "It's been good preparation for all the snakes and sharks."

Harsh words, but characteristic of Manley, who is a walking combination of hope and cynicism.

"In the subway I've had my knee kicked, my arm bitten...I've been stalked."

The upside of being a beneath-the-street performer?

"The first smile, foot stamp, head bob...that's what moves your tank from half full to full."

Lorijo's had odd items tossed into her collection plate. "Three different times men have tossed condoms into the till. At least they weren't used."

Another memorable incident:

"One time a guy sat down in front of me, put his head in his hands, resting his elbows on his knees. Then he threw up and passed out. I watched the vultures pick his pockets and toss some of the take into my till. Later on he woke up to applaud."

Indeed the denizens of this particular underworld have prepped your humble musician for other slime that walks upright - sometimes clad in suit and tie.

"The best advice I could give to anyone trying to make it in the music business is 'know a good lawyer'."

Don King once said, in essence, that despite the venal powers-that-be in boxing, the sport looked like a choirboy convention compared to the predatory power brokers in the music business.

Though she has had her share of connections, she says, "I've been led down that rosy path before. I've had major-label interest, known lawyers of note, producers, investor types...inappropriate things have occurred. I'd rather say no and starve.

Despite the Flower Power influence; caffeine, nicotine, and cheap red wine are her only drugs. Today she wears a silver earring which combines the symbols for peace and womanhood with a treble clef.

Her musical philosophy consists of "expressing lessons; my own or others, stories, the 'better world syndrome' - though I don't like to preach. Like Shaw said, I like to get 'em laughing and then stick the knife of truth in."
* * *
"...something lives in the dreaming

which I will never lose

It haunts and taunts and persuades me

That it's real and with me and true..."
'Driving By Midnight'
Copyright 1994 Lorijo Manley
Ed Hershman - SubNation
"Workin'/ For my livin'/ Well, I'm here all day/ And I'm singin' and I'm givin'," goes a lyric in Lorijo Manley's song "Workin'". For Manley, singing and songwriting are very much a matter of giving. It's her work - a profession by which she earns a living as well as self-respect.
"Busking and gigging," says Manley, describing the avenues by which she reaches paying audiences in the Chicago area. "Busking is a main part of it. Playing on the street - at the zoo, in the tunnels and platforms of the Chicago public transit system. I tend to stick to the underground," she adds, laughing at her pun on the "counterculture" image...
Manley is concerned with broad human values. In the powerful "Whatcha Doin'?" she praises those who have fought for causes, but also urges her audience to take stock of their personal values: "Up you mighty people/ You can accomplish what you will/ But I say what, whatcha doin'?"
"I include myself in that," she says. "I don't want anyone to think I'm standing there pointing a finger at everyone else except me. It's a plea to look around at what we're all doing with our lives...how we treat each other on a day-to-day basis."
Albert Williams - Windy City Times
Lorijo Manley has got to be a remarkable entertainer - really, somebody special. For the first time in recorded memory, the very self-contained Sugarloaf Women's Village is opening its figurative gates to invite all women of the Keys to join them on Memorial Day, to hear Manley at a free concert, at 2 p.m. Monday.

How remarkable is she? Well, the nationally known and lauded guitarist/vocalist was once credited with channeling Jimi Hendrix and, by another publication, with being "a poet wielding a six-string axe of funky folk rock - the spiritual love child of Hendrix and Joni Mitchell," according to Bonnie Netherton of the Women's Village, producer of the concert.

Manley was an official performer at the Athletes Village during the 1996 Olympics, and in '98 her singing was showcased in the theme music for the First Annual Broadcast (sic) Awards (Native American Awards) broadcast on A & E. Her music is described as "fast, funky, rhythmic and powerful" and has been praised as a singer/songwriter in countless publications across the U.S.

Born in New York City (sic), and raised there and in upstate New York, Manley's formative years were filled with music and theater. Her grandmother began her piano lessons at age five, and a year or two later Santa brought her a guitar - after she was discovered "torturing her mother's violin trying to play it as a six string git." She "wrote her first songs around age 10."

This interest in music and theater never waned. In high school she founded a theater troupe, won an acting contest, and decided to enroll in Northwestern University's acclaimed theater department. There she created the school's first ever women's performance group, Astarte Mettle, which garnered her a Time Magazine College Achievement Award.

Conventional as this "star student" bio seems, Manley is anything but mainstream. "After graduation she traveled the country living out of her van. She thought this was a more practical way to starve. And it was. For 10 years she played music full-time, first in Chicago and then in New York City, logging over 3,000 live performances as a regular in popular venues and as a subway busker."

She has also appeared numerous times on TV and radio, including appearances on WBAI in NYC and others in Chicago and Albany. An arts grant assisted in production of her CD "Naked," and "her newest recording, 'Airpalne,' is a full band rocker with a ton of heart," the bio reports.

In SubNation, Ed Hershman goes that one better: "Lorijo's music puts two tons of heart into her singing," while Richard Lynch of WNUR called her "A premier vocalist and uniquely gifted guitarist, with a sound unlike anything you've ever heard. An interesting blend. This woman doesn't just play the guitar, she attacks it."

OK, that's remarkable.

Manley will be accompanied by drummer/percussionist Phyllis Free.
by Constance Gilbert - The Key West Citizen (May 27, 2007)
" Very nice voice. Great playing, too. Keep up the good work!"
Suede, jazz singer (Oct 12, 2007)
"...we've gotta get the girl back up here! For those of you who haven't heard her, just ask Frank, or Melissa, or me. Talk about guitars coming alive. Lorijo breathes fire into its soul!"
Julie Shepard (Jun 13, 2001)
"...It wasn't just a guitar anymore...she was playing part of herself..."
Nick, Interscope Records
"...Incredible. Quite a crowd out there, too..."
Spike O'Dell - WGN
"...I'm watching you salivate over her playing."
Anne Maxfield - WGN