A conversation with the T Sisters' Erika Tietjen | Pittsburgh City Paper

A conversation with the T Sisters' Erika Tietjen

Contributor Ryan Smith recently caught up with the T Sisters' Erika Tietjen before the (mostly) all-sisters band's takes the stage on Friday, Sept. 11 at the cozy Pittsburgh Winery — the Oakland, Calif.-based group's first-ever visit to the City of Bridges.

Here’s what Tietjen had to say in a little chat a couple of days back:

click to enlarge A conversation with the T Sisters' Erika Tietjen
The T Sisters (Erika Tietjen, center)

Hello there, Erika, and thanks for taking a moment to talk! First off, tell me a little bit about your current travels: Where are you now, and where are you headed en route to Pittsburgh?
Hi there! We're currently in East Nashville, drinking delicious and pricey espresso drinks and eating biscuit sandwiches. We're playing here tonight and then we'll hit Lexington, Kentucky before we head over to Pittsburgh.

So this your first time in the city?
We've never been to Pittsburgh before, but we've heard great things!

Listening to you sing (your rendition of the Beatles' 'Because,' for example), it seems to me there's something sultry, something soothing, something of-this-world but ethereal at the same time at play. Are you angels, or aliens? You can tell us the truth.
Hmm ... I like this question. Sometimes, people use the word 'angelic' to describe our harmonies, but I think if you asked the rest of our band, they would say the latter. We would have to say ... Nanu-nanu.

What are you listening to at the moment?
At the moment, we're listening to Nashville's 650 AM radio station, lots of old country and blues. The Wood Brothers, Lake Street Dive, Lindsay Lou and the Flatbellys ...

The T Sisters performed in January on NPR's smash-hit show A Prairie Home Companion. So, lemme know: Is that Garrison Keillor fella really as quaint as he sounds?
A Prairie Home Companion is an impressively tightly-run ship. [It's] made up of a team of quick and talented folks who craft the backdrop for Keillor's wacky musings. It's relaxed and intense at the same time. 'Quaint,' not so much.

Does singing together serve as any sort of family therapy for you? For others? Can music save us all?
Singing is definitely a therapeutic exercise for us. But singing is part of everything for us": Sometimes, it's accompanied by dancing; sometimes, by fighting; and sometimes, by tears. I'm not sure that music can save us all, but it can certainly buoy our spirits, or provide catharsis and joy in painful times. We believe in a connection between music and activism and care for the planet, but we need more than music to deal with climate change and corrupt government and social inequality.

THE T SISTERS with THE BLIND SPOTS. 9 p.m. Pittsburgh Winery, 2815 Penn Ave., Strip District.  $10-12. 412-566-1000 or www.pittsburghwinery.com