Preview: Ann Arbor's Lucciana Costa gets a showcase at The Ark
â€¨“I love the irony of it,” says the 20-year-old Costa, whose Friday show at The Ark with her band will also be a “party” to celebrate the release of the disc.
“All my life, I just wanted to play music,” says Costa, who began playing piano at age 7 - but then discovered the dobro at age 12 and played in roots-rock groups as a teenager before returning to the piano full-time at age 17.
â€¨“I remember as a child, watching the CMA awards on TV, and just wanting so bad to be out there on stage performing,” says Costa. “And you know how every little girl wants a pony? Well, my family and I decided that this was my chance to really try and do this - that I was now at a point where I really could try and start a career.
â€¨“So I like the irony that this is my ‘last chance’ at that pony.”
â€¨The irony, of course, is that since she is only 20, this is hardly Costa’s “last chance” to launch a career in music - it is, instead, her first foray into performing around town on a regular basis. So it’s really more of a “coming-out” party.â€¨
After graduating from high school at 17, Costa spent two years attending a university-prep liberal arts college in London, Ontario - and just returned to Ann Arbor in May. “And for the last year or so, I’ve mostly been in the songwriting mode, so I haven’t really been doing live shows.”â€¨
Costa would appear to have had a leg up when it came to developing her proficiency on the piano: Her grandfather was Eddie Costa, a stalwart of the New York City jazz scene in the ’50s who “made a ton of recordings with various jazz ensembles from that scene,” and who also cut four solo discs. Sadly, her grandfather died in 1962 at the too-young age of 32.â€¨ “But my dad played those recordings a lot when I was growing up, so his music was definitely in my ears, from a very early age.”â€¨
After playing Dobro in the alt-country band Smithville and the folk-rock-blues band Uses for Wood, Costa was lured back to the piano, she says, by the music of Ben Folds. “I heard his ‘Rocking the Suburbs’ record, and saw one of his shows, and it was one of the most incredible shows I’d ever seen. And that’s when I began to realize that’s what I wanted to do - make piano-pop music, but also drawing on the jazz of my grandfather, and boogie-woogie. That was the catalyst to my wanting to write songs.”
â€¨The quirky rhythms of some of Costa’s songs will likely prompt comparisons to Regina Spektor, or, to a lesser degree, Tori Amos. But some tunes are more pensive and delicate.
â€¨“Regina is a definitely a big influence, but Tori, not as much,” shares Costa. â€¨“But I just listen to so many piano players, and, really, so many other artists, that music is always running through my head. â€¨
“I usually feel like it’s just running under everything, under every part of me, and when I come up with a song, I actually don’t feel like I ‘wrote’ it - I feel more like I just get hit with one line of an inspiration, and then the music just comes to me.”
PREVIEW Lucciana Costa Who: Young Ann Arbor singer, pianist and songwriter. What: Piano-pop that can be quirky or pensive. Where: The Ark, 316 S. Main When: Friday, 8 p.m. How much: $12.50 Details: 734-761-1451 http://theark.org/
â€¨Kevin Ransom is a freelance writer who covers music for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached at KevinRansom10@aol.com.