After years of playing in the bar and club scene, folk-pop singer/songwriter Rhianna LaRocque will venture to a more intimate setting for her summer tour. The scene will include coffee tables and picket fences — with possibly a few cuddly cats, dogs and pet hamsters in the crowd.
And before LaRocque, a native of Severna, Md., sets sail on this melodic voyage, she’ll cruise to Cooldog Concert Series on Saturday, as a featured guest sharing the stage with country singer/songwriter Kate Klim.
Home sweet home
Back home around late 2011, LaRocque wasn’t feeling jazzed about gigging at some of the local venues. She had been there and done that, and desired a new atmosphere to spread her wings. While she had been in touch with Paul Gumerman, host of Cooldog, about performing at the venue since mid-2011, it didn’t come to fruition at the time since they both had conflicting schedules. So she organized her own house concert.
The successful show jumpstarted the idea to develop a three-week tour of mostly house concerts throughout the country — in living rooms and backyards from Pennsylvania to Tennessee. The tour officially launches June 22 in Brooklyn, N.Y.
“I was coming home and setting up a show with a friend and we didn’t want to set up a show at a club in the area, because it gets tiring,” recalled LaRocque, who will tour with her friend and fellow singer/songwriter Megan Lui (better known as “M. Lui”). “We kind of set up this nice little stage in the backyard and it was a nice little intimate.”
Never too timid to invite listeners into her colorful world of introspection — decorated with rolling chord patterns and an unembellished floating-voice, accompanied with themes of romance and traveling — the 21-year-old LaRocque, a junior majoring in communications at Northeastern University, is an indie girl with a knack for fostering sincere and honest tunes.
Thanks to her recent and eventful experience studying abroad in Rome during the spring semester, LaRocque now has a goody bag of surprise tunes she’s considering for the show, in addition to songs from her previous EPs in “Hotel Songs” and “One Thing I Can Do.”
“I’m trying out a lot of new stuff I wrote in Rome,” said LaRocque, who added the audience will influence whether or not the new tracks will be “worth playing again” on her summer tour.
A collage of her experiences while abroad serve as the backbone of her new songs, said LaRocque, who added inspiration for some of the tunes derived from her time spent traveling to places like Croatia, where she visited the serene Plitvice Lakes National Park.
Page 2 of 2 - “A lot of the songs are just kind of about being in Europe and being an independent lady and my experiences,” she said. “I definitely grew up a lot there.”
In keeping with her honest ways, LaRocque admits that not every moment in Rome was grand.
Specifically, Cupid wasn’t very kind to her on Valentine’s Day.
“This one is a bit ridiculous,” said LaRocque, mustering up the nerve to continue her strange tale. “Me and a friend were walking home on Valentine’s Day and a man flashed us.”
While most of her memories in Rome were lovely, she said the flashing incident has taken a toll on her.
“It was a very scarring experience,” she quipped. “We were feeling really homesick at that point.”