Local Wire

Baby Dee

Baby Dee became a legend in New York's art music underground for her antics with the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus and her penchant for roaming the city on a gigantic tricycle, smoking a cigar and wearing a bee costume. Onstage, and on her recent Safe Inside the Day CD, Dee's shamanistic presence imbues her songs with an almost-frightening emotional power. Her complex compositions touch on the Tin Pan Alley pop of the '50s, classical music (both Baroque and Romantic), neo-Vaudeville, blues, rock, and dark cabaret. Tunes like "The Earlie King," an epic song about dark spirits (the erlking of the title) who deceive children into committing selfish, self-destructive acts in order to rob them of their souls, are delivered with a scary emotional power. Dee was a classically trained harp player in her youth and still performs with that unlikely instrument, countering the instrument's dulcet tones with a vocal range that moves from a baritone growl to a quivering wail to the tremulous sound of birdcalls. Dee's music is full of unexpected changes in tempo and timbre, and complimented by lyrics that explore life's frightening darkness and unexpected bursts of light, often overwhelming you with its subtle intensity.