As an independent artist, Lisa Loeb catapulted to fame in the mid-90s with the endearing “Stay (I Missed You)” off of the Realty Bites soundtrack, and went on to record a series of critically acclaimed albums, producing hit songs such as “Do You Sleep,” “I Do” and “Let’s Forget About It.” With her signature glasses and acoustic sound, Loeb was an artist who defined the coffeehouse generation and became a favorite at music festivals around the nation.
But Loeb is so much more than just a best-selling pop singer-songwriter. Over the past 20 years, she’s found success with voice-over work, acting, creating an eyewear line, supporting nonprofit causes, recording children’s CDs and writing children’s books. She even created a crossword to help celebrate the New York Times’ 75th anniversary of crossword puzzles.
Now a mother of two, Loeb is well-known to parents and kids for her albums Catch the Moon and Camp Lisa, and her picture books. She also collaborated on the children’s musical Camp Kappawanna, which made its debut at New York City’s Atlantic Theater Company in 2015.
“Inspiration lets me decide whether I write for children or adults,” Loeb says. “When I hear a lyric or a melody in my head, I just capture it, and I may use it for kids or grownups – whatever I feel it works best with.”
This month, Loeb is coming to the DMV with two performances at Bethesda’s AMP by Strathmore on Sunday, October 8.
“What I like to do these days is play songs from all my records,” Loeb says. “I play the songs people know from the radio, because as a concertgoer myself, I know it’s important to play songs people are excited to hear. I tend to play a number of songs from my early records because I do play requests, and I tell a lot of stories. I also might play some songs that aren’t on any of my records yet.”
And though Loeb will have a separate concert earlier in the day focused on the children’s music she has written (A Kids’ Pajama Jam starting at 4 p.m.), she’ll still play a few of those songs at the main concert at 8:30 p.m.
“I had some advice early on that I shouldn’t play kids’ songs at grownup concerts, but I’ve found that those really resonate with a lot of them and people want to hear them,” Loeb says. “They have a lot of humor, and it provides variety for the audience and makes it more fun.”
For the kids’ show, Loeb will play requests from her albums, and is perfectly fine playing some of the “grownup” songs from her career they might want to hear.
“I have six kids’ records, plus some other songs released online, and I’ll do everything from summer camp songs to nursery rhymes to originals,” she says. “At a certain point, there will definitely be audience participation.”
Born in nearby Bethesda, Maryland, but raised in California and Texas, Loeb was always interested in music, taking up piano and guitar at a young age before hosting her own radio show in high school. She attended Brown University and received a degree in comparative literature (thus explaining her lyrical prowess), and teamed with classmates Elizabeth Mitchell and Duncan Shiek in her first band.
Loeb soon found fame with her band Nine Stories, and became a regular on the New York City coffeehouse scene. Although her songs had a rock edge to them, often the label on her was one of a different musical genre.
“When you’re starting out in the public eye, people like to label you,” she says. “So, you’re always looking for the label that best suits you. In the 90s, alternative was cooler than pop. Being a singer-songwriter and a girl, I wasn’t considered a rock musician, but more of a folk musician. Now, I think people are less affected by labeling and with the independent style promotion many people are doing these days, it’s not important to fit in, but rather to share your music – no matter what it is.”
She was prepared to work on a new record this summer, but Amazon asked her to make a record of lullabies. So she took a little detour, though she admits it didn’t turn out as a kid record.
“It’s kind of like when you listen to the Beatles. They weren’t writing songs for kids, but I think kids like them when they hear them on the radio. That’s what I ended up doing: a lot of classic songs in a style that fits on a lullaby record, but it’s not childish in any way.”
For those coming to her Strathmore gig, she invites people to come say “Hello” after the show.
“I enjoy playing now more than I ever have, and it’s always fun to talk to people after and hear their thoughts,” she says. “People can go to my social media sites before the show and make requests in advance, and they can always communicate with me through Twitter or Facebook. I look forward to connecting at the concert.”
Catch Loeb at AMP by Strathmore on Sunday, October 8 at either 4 (kids) or 8:30 p.m. (grownups). Tickets to the 4 p.m. show are $12, and tickets to the 8:30 p.m. show are $30-$37.
AMP by Strathmore: 11810 Grand Park Ave. North Bethesda, MD; 301-581-5100; www.ampbystrathmore.com