2017-03-30 / Around Town

SPOTLIGHT on Music

Rassi Making a Name with Silverteeth
By Mark Gorman

If you’ve been paying attention, you might have noticed the emergence of a growing local arts and music scene. Singer-songwriters, dancers, and artists have been making their presence felt around Newport. One such poet-artist-musician who’s been receiving much-deserved notoriety is Gabriela Rassi.

The native Brazilian did not grow up in a musical family. “I started to play the surdo (a large bass drum used in Brazilian music) when I was 21,” she says. “Nobody in my family played music. They’re all educated, traditional people.”

Rassi and husband, local singersongwriter Bill Bartholomew, perform with drummer Tom Berglund in Silverteeth. Newport This Week caught up with Rassi recently at a local coffee shop, where several of her drawings and paintings were on display.

Rassi started playing bass with Silverteeth three years ago when the group’s bassist abruptly quit. “I was playing keys and singing and writing and we had 21 shows booked for May, 2014,” she said. “I stepped up and said I would learn how to play the songs on the bass because we could not afford to hire a bass player. I’m really glad I did.”

Rassi concedes that it’s difficult to be a full-time performer and also pay the rent. “There is an internal myth that says you can only make it as an artist if you’re full-time. I don’t think that is true,” she says. “But I do believe that you have to do that for a period of time to get closer to the beast.”

She maintains a hectic schedule promoting her music. “As a truly independent artist, I have to do a lot of administrative work for free,” she says. “Like writing hundreds of emails, showing up to every single opportunity for new exposure and staying late for my peers’ shows.”

Rassi’s songwriting routine is varied and unpredictable. “(Songwriting) happens in different ways,” she says. “Sometimes I hear things, like the sounds coming from the electric cables on the street or construction somewhere, and it turns into a riff. Sometimes I find the entire melody and then go to the guitar. Other times, I just get lucky by messing around with the guitar.”

Not surprisingly, being in a band with your spouse can be challenging. “It’s very hard to separate work from your personal life due to the emotional aspect of this job,” she says. “We basically write separately, with very little interference, but there is definitely compromise in regards to creative content. I think that happens in every band. You just have to be smoother when dealing with your sweetheart.”

TO Go: SilverteetH

WHEN: Tuesday, April 4,
6:30-8:30 p.m.
WHERE: Mission,
29 Marlborough St.
MORE INFO: silverteeth4eva.
bandcamp.com

Mark Gorman is a retired high school guidance counselor and guitarist-vocalist who performs locally each week.

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