Lisa Safran - singer/songwriter, actress, improvisor. Lisa has been composing music since a wee tot, climbing onto the bench of her father's piano and making up stories using sound. She went on to composing many songs and instrumental pieces on the piano. More recently Safran collaborated with poet Naomi Lowinsky and created songs from several of her poems in 2004 and 2005. While living in Thailand, Safran picked up the guitar and the music took on a whole new energy. Returning to San Francisco, Safran joined up with guitarist Chris Faust and they began playing coffee shops and other venues around the Bay Area. Lisa and Chris formed the band D'Tension and then with the addition of several more talented musicians, Bitter Mystics was formed. Bitter Mystics is fronted by Lisa Safran and highlight her newest compilation of original songs written for guitar. In addition to music, Lisa is an educational consultant providing training and workshops for teachers around the world.
Chris Faust - musician, teacher and instructional technologies expert. Chris delights in the creative opportunities of the Bay Area and participates in a steady stream of performance projects: composing, writing, acting, dancing, singing and playing guitar. Early guitar influences were the Allman Brothers and Led Zeppelin, and later Jethro Tull and Steely Dan. While comfortable playing jazz and classical, his focus is on using guitar to support and enhance vocals. Behind the scenes, he has collaborated with other musicians and organized musical events. In 1999, he co-authored a full length musical and in 2003 his first CD was released.
Misha Safran - singer, writer, teacher, private tutor, mom! Misha Safran is currently a high school Spanish teacher in the East Bay. She has an MA in French Literature and is also a private tutor for French and Spanish. Music is a passion for Misha. She has been singing since elementary school with roles in high school musical theatre performances such as the Fantastics, Grease and West Side Story. In college she sang in the Gospel choir and for a city choir in Poitiers, France. She writes music and poetry in three languages; English, Spanish and French. When Misha is not singing she is raising her three wonderfully charming boys, hanging out with friends or grading a ton of papers! Misha joined Bitter Mystics in March of 2009, harmonizing to Lisa Safran's songs. It is an exciting experience for her to be singing again and spending time with her sister.
Reid Tjaden - percussionist, massage therapist, world traveler. His tactile rhythmic approach led him to first study Indian tabla, then bongo, conga and Persian tonbak. Experiences in playing these instruments in jazz, funk, blues, pop, R&B, world and other musical modes with various musicians in San Francisco have given Reid a flexible style that fits into many musical situations. His influences and inspirations have come from listening to a variety of percussion artists, such as Alla Rakha, Armando Peraza, Cal Tjader, Airto Moriera, Ray Cooper, Poncho Sanchez and many others. After years of only playing hand drums, Reid is currently picking up sticks to study the drum kit.
Liz Matthews – guest violinist, appears on Bitter Mystics CD Dreams That Matter. Singer, actor, teacher. Liz started playing violin at an early age and is classically trained. One of her highlights growing up was going to Vienna, Austria and playing in the World’s Music Festival and her orchestra taking Third Place. Since then Liz has played in Celtic, gypsy, rock, and Early American Folk bands all over the Bay Area and in a variety of venues, events and clubs—most recently she has been inspired by jazz and improvisation. For over 10 years, Liz has sang and performed with the Cabaret Duo—The Living Dolls Duo all over the Bay Area and California. Most recently, Liz played one of the lead roles in the play---Knocked UP. Seven years ago Liz began teaching private violin lessons to one student and since then her studio has flourished due to her teaching style with kids and adults pre-k to mature adults.
I kind of like this album on my first exposure, but I quickly tired of the earnestness of the voices, and lack of a thematic 'edge.' However, coming back to it a couple of years later, I enjoy it much more, and am willing to overlook it's faults. Very fresh, original and sounds great in high fidelity. Sad to find no further albums from the band!
I like the voices, the guitar playing and the arrangements are simple as it should be in this style of music.
I think you're at your best in the more melodic material, the energetic and rythmic, not so much. "Foggy San Francisco Nights" is the clear highlight here, at least for me. "Over The Stationary" is another one of the best. I think you're really really good in this kind of songs.
"Cold day in San Francisco Bay" on the other hand is an example of what you should not do... well, nevermind, forget it: you should continue to do if you like and enjoy it, that's what music is about. But I think you sound pretty average in that kind of tunes, It's just something I've heard hundreds of times, just better done.
You have something special, a knack for the crafting of catchy, melancholic melodies, and the tools (voices, arrangements) to make them credible and memorable.
An entertaining album with very good moments, keep up the good work.