Spotlight: November 2015

Stuart & Lisette Sims
Aaron Rowan

          There's a new jazz trio in town who I recently discovered. Despite not being huge on the genre, Lisette & The Loudmouths made an impression on me right away, as did their bandleader when I met her at an opera/poetry event shortly thereafter.

           The core of Lisette & The Loudmouths' sound is the songwriting of Lisette Sims. Bandmates Anthony Campolo and Erik Edwards bring their own delicious and unique flavors to Lisette’s songs, creating a smoky, sultry sound that combines elements of jazz, pop, and indie rock music. Their songs are intimate and genuine, and evoke the sound worlds of great contemporary songwriter/singers like Sia, Adele, and Amy Winehouse.
           Writing music since the age of 12, and singing since she was 5, Lisette created her first band, Opposite of Grey, at age 14. That band recorded two EPs and played many live shows throughout the Bay Area. Lisette also achieved success in her high school theater program, performing lead roles in shows such as Grease, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and The Sound of Music. She was awarded the ‘Female Vocalist Award’ from Musical Theatre of San Jose during her senior year for her performance as Maria in The Sound of Music.
           Lisette currently works for Townsend Opera and Fresno Grand Opera, two recently merged opera companies, as Assistant to the General Director and Orchestra Manager/Assistant Stage Manager. Through that connection, the Loudmouths have been engaged as an ongoing ‘Ensemble in Residence’ for the opera company, promoting the Opera Remix performances that happen throughout each season. Their outreach performances highlight the diverse nature of song as a musical form and help the opera company to spread awareness of its performance events and to attract new listeners.
           Lisette holds both a Bachelor of Music degree and a California Teaching Credential, which she earned at California State University Stanislaus. Last year, she taught full time at Central Valley High School, teaching all levels of Choir and Theater. She now teaches part-time for King’s University NorCal, as Adjunct Professor of Music Theory and Ear Training. She also works as the Summer Music Director for Turlock Youth Performing Arts. Her musical collaborations extend beyond the professional, though: the producer for the Loudmouths is Lisette’s husband, Stuart Sims.

          Dr. Stuart Sims is the Coordinator of Instrumental Studies at California State University, Stanislaus, where he conducts the Wind Ensemble, Chamber Orchestra, teaches courses including conducting and music literature, and manages the instrumental area of the Department of Music. Widely recognized for his work in the standard repertoire, Dr. Sims is also active in the commission and performance of new music and performances of his ensembles have won praise throughout the country from composers whose work he has premiered or championed, including Mason Bates, Bernard Rands, Carter Pann, Joel Puckett, and Jonathan Newman. Ensembles under his direction have performed at regional, state, and national events and also travel widely.
           He is in demand as guest conductor and clinician, as Assistant Conductor of the 2010 Music for All Honor Band of America, conducting the 2007 CBDA All-State Concert Band, the 2003 CODA All-State Symphony Orchestra, at the 2003 Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic, and the 2004 California Community College Honor Band. Dr. Sims also frequently serves as guest conductor for regional honor bands and orchestras and at state music conferences, most recently at the 2004, 2005, and 2008 California Band Directors Association annual conferences, and the 2004, 2005, and 2006 CMEA conferences.
           Having studied primarily with Gary W. Hill and H. Robert Reynolds, Dr. Sims holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in conducting from Arizona State University, a Master of Music degree in conducting from the University of Michigan, and a Bachelor of Music Education degree from the University of Louisiana, Lafayette.

           Stuart and Lisette are also active in other realms, co-hosting The Loose Filter Project, an arts think tank which features podcasts, recordings, and commentary. The site covers topics such as musical history, the impact of technology on music thought, and much more. This project has been running for a decade now, and is a gold mine of new ideas to be explored. With a keen sense of energy and adventure, Stuart and Lisette are working to bring greater music awareness to as many open minds as possible.