ABOVE: photo from The Latest Noise
Christina Alessi has been a fixture in the metro area’s music scene for over fifteen years, appearing on the iconic stages of Maxwell’s, CBGB, The Mercury Lounge—and most notably Giants Stadium, where she was on stage to open for none other than NJ musical royalty, Bon Jovi.
She’s a singer with genuine depth and a soulful delivery, evoking strong female artists like Janis Joplin, Susan Tedeschi and Ann Wilson. Her current project, Christina Alessi and the Toll Collectors, is a high-powered folk/rock explosion featuring some of the area’s most talented musicians.
NonLinear Knitting photo
Alessi’s new EP is a collection of songs written several years ago.
“I was between bands and trying to reconnect with my voice as a songwriter,” she says. “A few were written during a raw, transitional time in my life. I was unemployed, profoundly depressed, and feeling confused and hopeless about my place in the world. To dig myself out, I started writing songs and painting. I went back to school to finally finish my degree. It was the beginning of an uphill climb of finding myself. It’s something we all go through at some point or another. I’ve just always documented these moments with songs and art.”
It took several more years for her to get into the studio. “I’m not someone who enjoys the recording process. I prefer writing and performing,” says Alessi. “I recorded ‘Rescue Me’ and ‘Daybreak’ first at the Pigeon Club in Hoboken. This was my husband, Wayne Dorell’s studio on Newark Street before Hurricane Sandy broke in and destroyed it. I had some wonderful musicians who joined me for it – Jeff Nordstedt on guitar, Donovan Cain on bass and Pete Cetinich on drums. We had originally recorded it for a benefit compilation to benefit the Pigeon Club which had also been hit by hurricane Irene the previous year.”
“‘The Truth’s Upon Us”, “So In Love with You”, and “My Little Sin” were recorded a year or two later at Kaleidoscope Sound in Union City.
“Wayne was at the helm there as well and I was joined by Donovan on bass again with Lance Doss and the legendary Steve Holley on drums. They each breathed so much life and energy into the songs.”
The recordings sat unfinished for a while. “I’m not sure why. I have a tendency to do this with big projects. I think I become scared of completing them. In any case, I finally felt the fire this year to get it done just in time for our show at White Eagle Hall in JC.”
The EP is now available for download. “I would encourage patrons to purchase direct from the CD Baby store because they seem to have the most ‘artist-friendly’ rate,” says Alessi. “We’re selling that for $4.95. Then stream till your heart’s content!”
“I hand-painted the cardboard sleeves. Each one is its own unique little painting. It was something I had always wanted to do. I felt that since I was doing a limited run, I wanted to make them extra special. I was so pleased with how well they were received. Everyone really dug the idea and I sold almost all of them. I made up another small batch to bring to upcoming shows. I’m selling those for $10.”
3/15 – Christina Alessi & The Toll Collectors @ FM Bar