Sistah Act

A hazy nightclub is the typical weekend environment for Sistah Blue, the tireless leading ladies of the Valley's blues scene. But come Sunday, the five sistahs will be doing their thing in the shade of mesquite trees and surrounded by cactuses. The show is part of the ongoing Music in the Garden series that brings live music to Ullman Terrace in the Desert Botanical Garden.

"[The concert space] is nestled in the back portion of our garden at the base of our butte," says Elaine Anthonise, special events coordinator for the garden. "You feel like you're outside of the city." Truly, it's just the place to let go of the stress of the workweek and get your groove on.

The five-piece, all-woman ensemble performs regularly at the Rhythm Room and Char's Has the Blues, and their infectious live act has garnered lots of attention -- and the New Times crown of "Best Blues/R&B Band" for five years running. "We do some older R&B, kind of Motown-style," reports guitarist Nancy Dalessandro. Expect classics from the likes of Aretha Franklin and Jimmy Reed. The band also performs "Motormouth Man" and other original songs, some of which can be found on the CD that will be for sale at the show.

Because it is a daytime gig, Sistah Blue can reach folks who don't normally hit the bars, including kids. One young girl has become a regular at Sistah Blue's more family-friendly shows. Enchanted with harmonica player and vocalist Rochelle Raya's talent, she convinced her parents to buy her a set of harmonicas. The band is happy to encourage the next generation of female blues artists. "She comes to see us as much as she can," says Dalessandro. "We invite her up on stage to do her thing."

The $13 ticket price includes the show and admission to the garden, so come early or stay late and wander the paths of one of the Valley's most beautiful spots. If the show is sold out, $7.50 will still get you onto the grounds -- you'll be able to hear the ladies belt out the tunes even if you can't see them.

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Sage Dillon