Arts & Culture

Alisabeth Von Presley gearing up for first national tour

What They're Thinking: Eastern Iowa photographer stretches her musical wings

(File photo) Alisabeth Von Presley performs cabaret at the Opus Concert Cafe in Cedar Rapids on March 18, 2016. Von Presley is taking her music on the road for her first national tour. (Liz Zabel/The Gazette)
(File photo) Alisabeth Von Presley performs cabaret at the Opus Concert Cafe in Cedar Rapids on March 18, 2016. Von Presley is taking her music on the road for her first national tour. (Liz Zabel/The Gazette)
/

Theatrical spotlights have been shining on Alisabeth Von Presley most of her life. Five years ago, she stepped into the concert realm, with her first singing gig at CSPS Hall. It sold out.

Armed with the confidence and experience she has gained from performing on local stages and in “American Idol” and “The Voice” television competitions, the 30-year-old Cedar Rapids singer, songwriter, actor, dancer and photographer is embarking on her first national tour.

It begins March 29 in Champaign, Ill., winding to the East Coast and back through late April. Then after playing Balloon Glow at Brucemore on June 19, she’ll head to points south and west, including Nashville, Colorado, Arizona, Utah and Wyoming, returning at the end of July.

Her entourage includes Erika Bailey on bass and vocals; Jon Wilson on drums, acoustic guitar and vocals; her driver and fiance, Steven James of Celtic band Wylde Nept; and her English bulldog, Poptart. (When her original guitar player had to drop out of the tour, she stayed up all night and taught herself how to play all of her music on an electric guitar.)

They’ll be “glamping” (glamour camping) along the way in an SUV pulling a vintage camper packed with their gear, including their instruments, a mixing board and a small light board to create “a cool visual experience” for their audiences, she said.

And of course, a dazzling array of her signature theatrical costumes. “That’s quite a big part of who I am as a person,” she said. “I’m expressive visually.”

Q: How do you describe your musical style?

A: If Pink and Lady Gaga met Pat Benatar and fell in a bowl of glitter, then that would be me.

Q: What prompted this ambitious undertaking?

A: You only live one life, and I’m just dragging my heels here. I love adventure, and I love to travel. I have to. This year I have to. I’m not getting any younger.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

I’ve got to go out and do it while I still can. I don’t have kids, and I want to have children at some point in my life.

And so this is the year that I’m going to go out and give it my all — give it 157 percent of everything I have. Putting it all on the line, so we’ll see what happens.

Q: What kind of venues will you be playing?

A: They’re all over the gamut. In New York, we play after a drag show, which will be awesome. That’s like a big cabaret-style venue and then along the route, there’s, of course, bars. It’s all original music venues.

Down in Memphis, we play on Beale Street — we play the Hard Rock and so that one is original music and covers. I just want people to have a good time, and so they know who you are but still play those songs that they know and love. So it’s kind of all over all over the map.

Q: So how did you book all these venues?

A: I heard through the grapevine that there’s this company called Indie on the Move. They help artists to find venues that will support original music. ...

It’s really hard to find someplace that supports original music and pays for original music as well.

This company is based out of New York. It’s just these two brothers, and they toured the nation in a band. And they thought, ‘Let’s help artists.’ It was like 50 dollars, and they gave me all of these venues. They opened them up for me. ...

They put together a route, and then from there, I was able to book those gigs on my own.

Q: What scares you the most about the undertaking?

A: That no one will show up. (laughter) I think what scares me the most is that we’ll get a flat tire, that the car will break down, that we will break down. ...

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

Thank you for signing up for our e-newsletter!

You should start receiving the e-newsletters within a couple days.

It’s mostly just exciting to get to define myself outside of the parameters of the 319 area code. It’ll be exciting that nobody knows who I am or who any of us are and have never heard our music before, and so they took a chance to come out and listen to us and that will be awesome. That will feel really cool. It’s invigorating.

Q: What do you hope this leads to?

A: I hope it leads to a full-time career in music. I would love to sustain just a nice, simple life off of a music career. To be able to wake up and just sit and play my guitar on the porch and record music and be able to share my message that way, because for so many years I’ve been doing that with photography — being able to help people through photography and see how beautiful they are and feel confident after seeing that photo.

I’m transitioning this year into doing that more with music, which is where my heart has always been. This year, really just taking that leap and hoping that I can connect with people in the different cities and make them feel better about their life or who they are, or seeing a curvy girl on stage and saying, ‘Yes, that awesome.’ We need more of that in the music industry — someone who eats doughnuts regularly and is a real person, I guess. I’d love to play the Super Bowl — I’m not gonna lie.

Those are lofty, lofty goals. I would just love to be able to travel and tour and play music for people and make those connections.

l Comments: (319) 368-8508; diana.nollen@thegazette.com

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

CONTINUE READING

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.