Busker, church organist, circus performer -- Baby Dee has a varied resume, and it all informs her work in one way or another. Long associated with David Tibet's band Current 93, Baby Dee had previously released a number of records on Tibet's Durtro label; this year, Safe Inside the Day became her first release on Chicago's reliable Drag City.
On Safe Inside the Day, the harpist/pianist/songwriter drapes her falsetto over 11 new songs with help from some notable friends: The record was produced by Matt Sweeney (Chavez, Zwan) and Bonnie "Prince" Billy, and features other big names like Andrew W.K. It's a strange trip through jazz, blues and what verges on carny music; Baby Dee repeatedly proves that she's as capable of kitschy cabaret-style pop -- such as "Big Titty Bee Girl (From Dino Town)" -- as she is of hauntingly gorgeous piano ballads, such as the title track.
There's a religious, or perhaps spiritual, bent to much of Baby Dee's music; beyond the direct Biblical references, she carries an underlying theme of hope throughout her body of work. There's an element of comfort that her music hones in on, and that perhaps provides respite for an artist who has had to work to find her identity -- both as a performer and as a transgendered woman.
This marks Baby Dee's first headlining U.S. tour with a full band; she brings her beautiful weirdness to the Frick Fine Arts Auditorium at Pitt on Sat., March 1.
Baby Dee with Patricia Wake. 8 p.m. Sat., March 1. Frick Fine Arts Auditorium, University of Pittsburgh campus, Oakland. $10 ($12 at the door). All ages. 412-361-2262