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Big-name producer, big break

By DAVE SCHEIBER, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 2, 2002


They have toured the country and beyond for more than 10 years, building a solid following and hoping one day to get their shot at the big time. The members of Vesica Pisces, a rock quartet from Los Angeles, just never imagined it would take place 3,000 miles from home in St. Petersburg.

They have toured the country and beyond for more than 10 years, building a solid following and hoping one day to get their shot at the big time. The members of Vesica Pisces, a rock quartet from Los Angeles, just never imagined it would take place 3,000 miles from home in St. Petersburg.

Yet, here they are, signed to a debut deal with second-year record company Big 3 and working on an album with heralded rock producer Jack Douglas.

The group, which has performed 200 or more dates a year, was introduced by a local club owner to Big 3 officials during a Florida tour last year. Big 3 liked the group's original material and sound, a blend of styles influenced by such artists as Bonnie Raitt, Joni Mitchell and the Beatles.

So did colleagues in Los Angeles: Vesica Pisces won the Los Angeles Music Awards contest as best Adult Contemporary Band after returning to California in November 2000, and agreed to a contract with Big 3 several months later. But their big thrill has been making an album with Douglas.

"It's a dream to work with somebody of Jack's stature and experience," says lead singer and acoustic guitarist Kelly Fitzgerald, who co-writes much of the band's material with lead guitarist Brian Pothier. "It's a real inspiration to us."

Fitzgerald and Pothier, along with Adam Nicol Roach (drums) and Bill Bleschke (bass), interviewed several veteran producers who visited Big 3 in recent months. With Douglas, there was an instant connection. "It just clicked," says Roach. "Right away, we had this feeling that we wanted to play for him. He's someone you want to bare that part of your soul to."

The group has loved the energy and innovation Douglas has brought to the project and his knack for getting the most out of each player. He has also attracted various members of the Tampa Bay music scene who want to watch the master at work. "People just seem to show up -- they want to understand his miking techniques, or just want to know if they can help him," says Roach.

There had been some discussion of a name change for the group. Would some people hear it as Jessica Pisces? Would they wonder what a Vesica Pisces is? Just before Christmas, it was decided the name would stay. Here's how the band explained the name on its self-produced CD in 1998: Vesica Pisces is the shape created when two circles overlap, each containing half the diameter of the other, symbolizing creation, unity and growth.

The band, which opened for Nanci Griffith in June at the Mahaffey Theater, has no other local dates scheduled. It hopes to be finished recording around March. More information -- and music samples -- are available at http://www.vesicapisces.com.

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