Lisa and Lisa, a renowned Ashland musical group from 1978 to 1981, will be back for a reunion concert June 24 at Havurah Shir Hadash.
It will be a big moment for many oldsters who were young 35 years ago when David Zaslow, owner of the then-hot musical spot, Jazmin’s, got them on stage together, a mix they found magical. Zaslow is the rabbi of Havurah, where a “women’s music” festival is going on.
“They were great and a big part of women’s music — and would be funny also, getting people laughing with kazoo interludes,” said Zaslow.
“We would sing a lot of Top 40 music and do a lot of covers,” said Lisa Koch, now 60 and in a successful career as a music producer, with some performing, in Seattle. “Lisa and I would do a lot of original music too.”
The two Lisas “had a great sense of fun and we’d work the audience into the performance, very symbiotic, sometimes with singalong,” she adds. “People would follow us around to gigs.”
Lisa Koch is a native-born Ashland who grew up here in the late '50s and the '60s and often performed with her brother as “David & Lisa.” She adds, “It was such a special place to grow up, magical. My parents were both teachers. I come back a fair amount to visit my mother in Medford and many friends in Ashland.”
Lisa Spencer, 62, came to college here from Corvallis in 1974 and fell in love with the town, got her nursing credentials and raised children here. She still plays, teaming with her wife, Karen Wennlund. Spencer’s daughter Isabel Enns sings with them. Spencer is an assistant teacher at John Muir School.
“I played electric bass with Lisa. She was on guitar,” says Spencer. “We just hit it off (at a Jazmin’s concert with other Ashland singers Presila Quinby and Irene Ferrera). It certainly was a thing that happened that night, a beautiful blend. You can sing and play with a lot of different people but it’s rare that two voices can blend like ours did. It was magic. The sum was more than the parts. It was fun and joyous, better than angels singing.”
Their act ran the gamut of emotions, says Spencer. “Some were hilarious songs that had people rolling on the floor laughing and the next ones broke your heart.”
The duo and as many old performers as can be lured, will be back in town for the 40th anniversary concert of Jazmin’s in November. The old building still stands on Lithia Way, but it will happen at Havurah.
About the names, Lisa Koch notes, “when Lisa and Lisa were performing as a duo, I was still working with my brother David Koch occasionally as David and Lisa. David and Lisa had a bass player named David Aeschliman. And we’d sometimes have drummer David Hodgen sit in. David Koch had moved to Seattle, and whenever we would have the chance to play in Southern Oregon, we’d often have Lisa Spencer join us. So it was David, David, David, Lisa and Lisa. We joked that you had to legally changed your name to David or Lisa to play in either band.”
Zaslow’s women’s music fest showed Cris Williamson and Holly Near last month, will show Ferrera June 22 and Lisa & Lisa at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, June 24. Tickets are $20, available at brownpapertickets.com or the Music Coop on East Main.
— John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.