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Author Amy Tan talks about the Rock Bottom Remainders and her Lady Gaga wig




You may know Amy Tan as the bestselling author of The Joy Luck Club. But we here at SoundcheckCorp. grew up idolizing Matt Groening and Dave Barry, so we know Tan as a singer in the Rock Bottom Remainders.

A rotating supergroup of writers like Scott Turow, Mitch Albom and Stephen King (above, with Tan, center, and Kathi Kamen Goldmark), the Rock Bottom Remainders don't play often, but when they do, they play with passion. "Skillwise I'm not Eric Clapton," Barry once wrote. "But I was louder than Eric Clapton, as well as many nuclear tests."

Anyway: Tan is a founding member of the band. Tragically, the full band isn't coming to Tampa on their current mini-tour ... but Tan herself is. She'll be in Tampa this weekend to talk about and sign The Joy Luck Club as part of The Big Read, a literacy initiative sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts. (Click here for a schedule of her appearances on Saturday and Sunday.)

Our colleague Colette Bancroft got Tan on the phone recently to talk about The Big Read, but they also found time to discuss Tan's musical career.

Tan has been a Remainders member since the start, in 1992. "I remember thinking, I'm too old for this. Now it's what, 18 years later?" Performances are "a lot about the attitude. Even if I forget the lyrics, it doesn't matter. The band starts laughing, and I'll just keep going, making them up."

Tan's signature numbers involve her appearing in a little black leather and a lot of skin to perform These Boots Are Made for Walkin' (which she sometimes dramatizes by strutting across the backs of prone band members) and Leader of the Pack. For the band's current mini-tour, she planned to add Blondie's One Way or Another.

"I just got a Blondie wig on eBay," she says. "Actually it's a Lady Gaga wig. I've been asking people what it looks like on me, and I've gotten drowned Chinese ghost, the witches from Macbeth. But the resounding response has been 'Andy Warhol.' "

For more on the music of Amy Tan, including her work composing an opera based on her novel The Bonesetter's Daughter, click here to read Colette Bancroft's interview.

-- Photo: Getty Images

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 28, 2010 3:19pm]


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