A blistering version of a€?Stagger Leea€? occurs seven tracks deep into Danielle Miragliaa€™s most recent album, Box of Troubles. So it is that Danielle Miraglia puts her own stamp on a€?Stagger Lee.a€? Of course, ita€™s not her own composition, but surely a cornerstone of her repertoire.
An interview with this refreshingly affable, down-to-earth performer reveals how she became the player and writer she is today. While her musical aspirations took a back seat during her college career, there was still some dabbling. When Danielle left Emerson, she felt lost for a while, describing herself as a€?unfocused.a€? She wasna€™t able to translate a degree in writing into meaningful employment.
Danielle had a fantasy about moving to Arizona and starting a whole new life out there, getting a fresh start. Her first songs, coming off the dissolution of a relationship were (again) a€?cheesy breakup songs,a€? she said. At that point, she was a€?writing a ton,a€? and within about six months she enlarged her repertoire to six decent songs and another six months to beginning her first recording.
In addition to the strong, steady thumb beat on the bass strings, Danielle also uses a hollow foot stomp, sometimes amplified.
I asked her about the guitars shea€™s favored and she mentioned that the Yamaha her boyfriend got her in high school was a nice beginnera€™s guitar (he took it back when they broke up a€” song opportunity!). Danielle feels that her first two CDs were of little consequence a€” a part of the learning process a€” and that her recording career started in earnest with the album, Nothing Romantic. In a€?You dona€™t Know Nothin,a€™a€? a reaction to some right-wing radio talk shows, Danielle flashes metaphoric sharpness. The a€?eight oa€™clock shadowa€? then displays his own ignorance, condemning abortion rights marchers on the bara€™s television. Although I first got cold-cocked by a€?Stagger Leea€? and a€?Loud Talkera€? from Daniellea€™s latest CD, Box of Troubles, there are other standouts. Wea€™re ecstatic that wea€™ve caught up to this supremely intelligent and talented performer.
Danielle has had purists disagree with her about not following original styles note-for-note. Tom Bianchi, her husband and producer on this album, uses an electric violin, a blues harp and a sinuous lead electric guitar with a wah-wah pedal to sustain the cloud of doom that hangs over this historic piece. Her family lived in Everett until she was 8, then moved to nearby Revere, where she grew up. As kids will, she and some friends tried to form a band, even though no one actually played an instrument. She took a couple of lessons from the aforementioned frienda€™s father who was going to teach her friends to play their instruments. Using an acoustic guitar, shea€™d get together with a friend back home to play and write songs.
Her first stop was the open mic at The Kendall Cafe in Cambridge (now closed), just to a€?check it out.a€? She saw people who were very advanced and some raw beginners. However, a€?They had grit to them.a€? Although she cringes when she looks back on her early writing, she still feels that the songs werena€™t all that bad considering her level of development.
She was a fan of the late Janis Joplin and would belt her songs out, Janis-style,without giving thought to vocal dynamics or microphone control. Additionally, she studied the Stefan Grossman transcriptions (written and audio) of the guitar of Mississippi John Hurt. Shea€™s been told, a€?If youa€™re not doing it exactly the way they did it, youa€™re not doing it.a€? For Danielle, ita€™s all about enjoying it and getting into the a€?feela€? of it [we agree].
Although shea€™d seen performers like Chris Smither use this sort of device, she never intended to copy it.


She later got an Ovation, then a Guild and then found her first love in a Gibson [lots of blues in those Gibsons].
Thata€™s about when we made her acquaintance (as well as taking note of her impact at the 2009 Northeast Regional Folk Alliance Conference). She uses a nimble Mississippi John Hurt-style fingerpicking pattern for this philosophical gem.
Tongue-in-cheek, she asks for a drum machine, and, in a reference to Robert Johnson, Tell me where the roads cross, Ia€™m ready to sell my soul. Ita€™s a plus that finding out how good a writer she is now reinforces our first impression of a highly energetic blues artist.
Danielle had a Casio keyboard; a frienda€™s father played guitar, so it was assumed that hea€™d show others in the group how to play their instruments. There were writing courses of every kind, including journalism, childrena€™s writing and poetry. She figured, a€?OK, I can fit into this mixa€¦ I can pull this off.a€? She signed up to play the following week and found that others were very polite, offering encouragement. It wasna€™t until she got to the open mic of blues master Geoff Bartley at the Cantab Lounge that her mistakes were pointed out. The practice really evolved from using a foot stomp on stage to keep rhythm and provide percussion. It actually took another year for her to digest and learn what Geoff had taught her.A  a€?It was like I got all the food and then I processed it,a€? she told me. She credits two older boys, her upstairs neighbors, in helping to add to her musical knowledge. She went back again and again and found a€?a whole new crew of friends.a€? They were a€?on the same wavelength,a€? she said. On a gig where she needed to use a box for added height, she found herself rhythmically tapping on the box and liking the sound. Although she told me that her husband Tom hosts it now, shea€™s still listed as the host on The Burren website. Danielle developed a a€?roguea€? mixture of what Geoff taught her and the Grossman transcriptions. Danielle and another friend, Brenda, who Danielle said, a€?has a twisted sense of humor,a€? would write songs with ridiculous lyrics.
For Danielle, they included John Irving (for his humor as well as his dramatic flair), Tim Oa€™Brien (Vietnam War novelist, not the bluegrass performer), satirist David Sedaris and Lorrie Moore (a€?humorous and poignant short storiesa€? a€” Wikipedia). There was an epiphany of sorts in that they both realized life is too short to waste on doing things you have no love for. Later, she asked a friend to follow her design to make a hollow device like a footrest that she could attach to her stool.
Also, she mentioned that it seemed less desperate than standing when playing in a noisy bar. For Danielle, they includedA  John Irving (for his humor as well as his dramatic flair), Tim Oa€™Brien (Vietnam War novelist, not the bluegrass performer), satirist David Sedaris and Lorrie Moore (a€?humorous and poignant short storiesa€? a€” Wikipedia).
She finds it fundamentally impossible to repeat someone elsea€™s stylings note-for-note a€” shea€™ll develop her own version instead. However the world views her as a blues singer, shea€™s well-prepared for original songwriting. Danielle also studied from an instructional DVD of Mississippi John Hurta€™s guitar style by Happy Traum and John Sebastian that combined video and tablature transcription. When she returned home, Danielle began attending open mics, kick-starting what would become her career. I would be putting together help desk manuals, and then Ia€™d write a song about how miserable I was.


The male of the species got off easy this time, but that doesna€™t mean she hasna€™t been watching.
Then Ia€™d tell someone to re-boot their computer, which is usually the solution to every problem.
A  Due to the format of the B of A email, and the copious amounts of "filler" statements they use; the series is a bit difficult to follow. She tinkered around with some acoustic fingerstyle guitar while in high school, copying selected songs by Randy Rhodes and the band, Heart. A  I usually write correspondence to fit the lowest common denominator, but how low can one go?A  Although I'm willing to bet that if I reverted to primal grunts, and what could be considered a primitive, yet well understood gesture even in our modern world; that someone on the other side of the Banking Center counter might have their mind bulb flash, if only momentarily. I have a few of my portion of the email, as I cut and pasted it into my regular email service; don't know how they lost theirs. They relate to the Merlin Teller, and how a fully paid balance of mine is being carried on their books as an outstanding balance on their system for months after I paid the account in full, probably sometime in October of 2007. I was repeatedlyA  told this same information by various B of AA  staff that I spoke with in person, numerous times, in various locations, but I did not record the conversations and wish that I had. When first asked how and why they would do that; as it didn't sound logical or legal to me, I was informed by more than one staff person at more than one branch that it was expected to be carried for 16 to 19 Additional months!A  That is some kind of accounting system. A  That didn't sound accurate, as I was able to access the information on both the old 3732 account AND the new account until approximately January of 2008, and the phone rep I spoke who made arrangements for a balance transfer from another VISA Account I have at another bank for me on either April 3 or 4, 2008, said he would have copies of those 3732 statements mailed to me that day, at no charge to me.A  (I have received an envelope at my P.
Box from B of A; I'll expect the contents are the account statements, but won't know for certain until they are forwarded to me.
A  Bank of America?A  I'm almost on their side for this particular incident; as I know that avoiding lawsuits and payouts is high on their priority list. Unless some staffer slipped up, yapped out my private account activity, and didn't take time to note it in my file. Please do your employer a favor, and provide me with the written documentation that I have repeatedly requested.A  Thanks for your cooperation. Stockton: Please forward this email to someone up the ladder who can provide WRITTEN confirmation and information on who requested, and was provided, information on my Visa Card ending in 3732, activity in July or August of 2007.
Rose, Good afternoon and thank you for contacting Bank of America in regards to account documentation. For B of A to be carrying its customers former credits and debits on their books for 16 plus months would be an accounting nightmare, in addition to being out of compliance with several Federal Banking Regulations.
Please adjust all records statingA A  any balance due on my past and present Visa accounts to reflect the current credit balance only.A  Also, please update day ph. A  But do note that when I asked him a specific question about them, he couldn't answer it. A  And he didn't volunteer any details on the account maintenance that he appeared to have access to.A A  A A  This message is not flagged. A Can you please provide me with your 16 digit credit card number so I can review your account?
Gordon: The minimum payment is 1% of your balance and any finance charges and applicable fees.
The system will not allow the rate to change until the cycle closes and a new cycle starts.



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