Gary James' Interview With Christina Michelle Of
The Female Fronted Rolling Stones Tribute
Just when you thought you heard everything in the tribute band business, along comes a Rolling Stones tribute band by the name of Chick Jagger! Formed in 2010, Christina Michelle is Chick Jagger in America's only female fronted Rolling Stones tribute band! Based out of San Francisco, Christina Michelle spoke with us about the band she fronts.
Q - It never ceases to amaze me when we are talking about the creativity that goes into tribute bands. Did you come up with the name Chick Jagger?
A - I did, yes. I think the origin of it was probably a joke that, over time as my interest in performing Rolling Stones' music continued to grow, I adopted it as a moniker.
Q - Do people know before hand what to expect when you come on stage? Have they seen a photo of the band?
A - Generally, yes. Sometimes people are in clubs and maybe have not seen a photo before, but I think it's pretty obvious I'm a woman when I show up on stage, for sure.
Q - How is the marketplace for tribute bands, and your band in particular, in San Francisco?
A - Well, 'live' music is challenging for any local band. More and more venues are closing. It's harder to get gigs. There's lots of bands. There's lots of competition. Having said that, we've managed to stay active as a band for four years now. I've been performing in the Bay Area actively since I moved here back in '96, now in a lot of different bands and workshops and so forth. So, for our band in particular, there is another Stones tribute band in the Bay Area that is pretty popular. They are called The Unauthorized Rolling Stones. You may have heard of them. They have a lot of the bigger clubs locked up. They've been at it as the same act for a very long time. I know them. They are great guys. So, it's challenging to get those bookings. It takes persistence. It takes a lot of time. Somehow we managed to carve out our own little niche and we play a lot of the smaller clubs in the San Francisco Bay Area and private parties. So, we've managed to make it work for ourselves.
Q - And so how many gigs a year would you say you are doing?
A - I would say we are doing between six and eight.
Q - How do you keep the band together with so few gigs?
A - Well, we are all committed to the band. We're all very, very good friends. This is something that we all love to do. Actually, playing every other month or so for a band is not really that infrequently when you think about it. You have to draw an audience to every show. You are probably familiar with some of the booking techniques people use, like for example, if you play a festival, you're going to be prohibited from playing within that same geographic region for a certain number of days before the festival because they want fans to come see you at the festival. Same thing for smaller club gigs. You can't play every week. There's not enough demand. There is a another Rolling Stones band here in the Bay Area. A club can't have a Stones band every weekend. They want to mix it up. They need variety. And they also need the bands to pull a draw. So, if your fan base has an opportunity to see you every month, that's going to be a smaller turnout than if you are playing every three months.
Q - I take it you are just restricted to performing in the Bay Area. You are not going from city to city.
A - That's right. We are a local band. The economics change very quickly once you start traveling outside of an area you can usually drive to. So, we stick to the San Francisco Bay Area. Which offers loads of opportunity. There's an East Bay with Oakland, Alameda. There's the North Bay, all of Marin Valley. And of course San Francisco proper and the South Bay with Silicon Valley and San Jose. So it's a pretty wide region to cover. There's a lot of opportunity.
Q - What is the game plan for Chick Jagger?
A - Our goal with this band is to play the best to gigs that we can, create lasting relationships with the clubs by bringing in enough people to want to book us again, and essentially just to have a good time with it. None of us do this as a day job. This is not a band you make a living with. This is a band that is put together by a group that loves the music of The Rolling Stones and finds it fun and entertaining to entertain others with some of the greatest Rock 'n' Roll ever made.
Q - So, you are a fan of The Stones?
A - Absolutely.
Q - And a fan of Mick Jagger?
A - I have always had a complete fascination with Mick Jagger.
Q - Before Chick Jagger, were you in cover bands or other tribute bands?
A - I've done some original music, I primarily pursued opportunities in cover and tribute bands because my love is performing. Playing music that people know just creates a lot more performance opportunities. I started my career in the Bay Area with the Motown Classic Rock cover band called Chain Of Fools, where I was one of the two female lead vocalists. I've done a wide variety of things over the years including Teeze, a tribute to '80s Rock And Metal, which I sang lead vocals for, for four years. I'd been a bass player in a Southern Rock tribute for seven years by the name of The Fog City Swampers. I had an all girl version of The Stones tribute back in 2004 to 2006. I played bass in an Alice Cooper tribute band called Malice Cooper and have done a lot of various theatrical Rock 'n' Roll.
Q - Would the guys in The Stones have heard of you?
A - (laughs). That would be great to think. I don't know if they have such a micro level organization on their radar. There may have been other "Chicks" in the past, but I'm definitely the first one that has formalized the name via a website and promotion and branding. It's a great name for sure!