Looking back, its no surprise that when a precocious nine year-old Meschiya Lake hit the stage for a singing contest at a Rapid City, South Dakota steakhouse, she already believed that she could hold her own with the best of them. She had been singing around the house, and competing against adults who thought she was "cute didnt intimidate her.
For several more years singing for fun and joy continued to trump music as vocation for Lake, but it was only in her early twenties during her stint as a member of the Know Nothing Family Zirkus Zideshow and End of the World Circus a ragtag traveling troupe that blended traditional circus arts with modern sideshow entertainment that she ultimately realised exactly what she wanted to do as an adult.
The circus schedule of six months on, six months off ultimately brought Lake to New Orleans for a prolonged stretch of downtime. After driving alone for an entire day to make it to the city and meet up with her cohorts, Lake stopped in the French Quarter to locate her friends and was struck immediately by an overpowering sense of timelessness. It was her first visit, and just like picking up a microphone for the first time decades earlier, she instantly felt the citys call to things that are different, slightly odd. Without meaning to, she had found her home base for the next eighteen years.
After "running away from the circus, and employing a myriad of jobs, from building the Burning Man festival to forklift driving at cranberry harvest, Lake was searching to, once again, make music her bread and butter. In 2007, this life change found her by way of traditional jazz outfit, complete with dancers, The Loose Marbles. This ragtag group of busking street performers originally set up camp on Royal Street in New Orleans. From there they created a residency in New York Citys Washington Square Park, the gateway to what would become Ms. Lakes next stomping ground, Europe. Affectionately referring to this time in her life as "jazz boot camp, she began to build her now extensive repertoire, and learned several life lessons, including, but not limited to, dont date the band leader, Be the bandleader. A year later, she did just that, creating the Little Big Horns Jazz Band.
The year 2010 saw their debut album, Lucky Devil, and the beginning of a decades worth of accolades, tours, and awards. From the stages of Lincoln Center in NYC, to Brazil, Canada, Denmark, The Netherlands, Italy, Russia, the U.K., and Ireland, shes shown people to express love of life through music and dance. This passion, seemingly tireless energy, and expert skill has garnered much praise, from NPRs top ten albums of 2010, to First Lady of Jazz 2013, at the Sun Valley Jazz Festival. But most importantly, back at home in New Orleans, Lake was recognised as Female Performer of the Year, three years running, at the Big Easy Awards, was named Best Female Singer in Offbeat Magazines Best of the Beat poll in 2013 and 2014, and in 2013 the Little Big Horns were honored with the Best of The Beats coveted Best Trad Band award. Along the way, Meschiyas found the time to record, write, and produce another two albums with the Big Horns, Foolers Gold, and Bad Kids Club, as well as work in the studio as a vocalist with musicians like Alec Ounsworth of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, as well as singing for a gentleman by the name of Tom Waits.
Meschiya Lake has come a long way since her South Dakota Opry and traveling circus days, and shes not done yet. In fact, far from it. Relocating to Europe in the summer 2018, and joining forces with the already established, stunningly talented Dizzy Birds, of Berlin, Ms. Lake and company will be, once again, setting the bar exceedingly high for our standards of musician and showmanship, jazz, and joy.
Tom Mc Dermott