Lil Esther (Bugaloos, Jess and Jill and the Sinners, Tinstars…)

Lil Esther
Lil Esther

Lil Esther

Another old interview I did a couple of years ago for Jumpin’ from 6 to 6, but there’s too many good informations in that one, and Esther is one of my favorite singer, that I ddn’t want it to be lost. 

What kind of music did you grow up with ?
Lil Esther – I grew up with different kinds of music.. When I was a “Lil” girl my mother always listend to Country music, Rock and Roll but also A lot of Hawaiin music. Later her musical changed. She started listening to a lot of rhythm and blues and some soul music I think as a child you just listen to what your parents plays you know? But I have to say I always liked what I had to listen too! It influencend my musical taste for sure…

Was your family musically inclined?
Lil Esther – Yes indeed there where! My grandfather was a bit of a famous guitarplayer here in Holland in the late 50s till the 80s. He was a brilliant schooled jazzguitarist, who played in all the fancy Theatres jazzclubs and other venues. He also aranged a lot of music for very know BEAT bands as the Golden earing(RADAR LOVE FAME) and indo rock female star Anneke Gronloh. When he became older he started to give guitarlessons. And when i was 17 I took some lessons too… His wife (my grandmother) played the violin in all kind of big orcherstras. My mother played steelguitar in a hawaian band. Her dad taught her to play it. My sister plays piano. And we start singing harmony the moment we could talk!

The Bugaloos with Lil Esther
The Bugaloos

How did you come to discover “roots music”?
Lil Esther – Well, as I said I always liked the music my mother listening to a whole lot when I became older I became more interested and curious about the roots of this music and soon discovered it and decided to dig a litte deeper.

When did you start to sing and when did you consider joining a band?
Lil Esther – I started sing on a very young age.. Me and my sister must have been 6 or 7 years old when joinend a harmony-choir We did this for years! And we even recorded an album with Dutch folk songs on it ! Hahahaha at the age of 19 we considered the option to form a band. So we asked another friend (Marga) to join us. We met the other bandmembers at Local R.a.B clubs. Ed the drummer is married to my sister. We were influencend by 50s harmony vocals girl bands.

Were you in other band before the Bugaloos?
Lil Esther – No.. The Bugaloos was my first band…

Maybe all of our readers don’t know The Bugaloos, can you tell us more about this band?
Lil Esther – The bugaloos was a 6 piece band bass-drums-guitar line up And 3 Girls singing. We did all kinds of styles RAB, jazz, western swing and some Les Paul & Mary Ford stuff. A lot of Miller sister, Davis sisters, Nita rita and Ruby, Everly brothers, Louvin brothers just to name a few…

Jess and jill and the sinners
Lil Esther with Jess and Jill and the Sinners

The next band you’ve played with was “Jess’n’Jill And The Sinners”. A word about that. Did you release anything?
Lil Esther – Aahh.. Jess and jill and the sinners. That was Peter and Tjarco from the Tinstars and Jan from the Chesstnuts(and later the barnstompers). And Marga from the Bugaloos, she was replaced by Diane. It was mostly straight r.a.b Harmony stuff but it was so much fun to do. We did some great gigs but Tjarco and Peter were to busy with the Tinstars at the time so the band just faded away you might say. It was in France I met Don cavalli he was on the same bill.

You also made a short stint with The Ranchgirls & The Ragtime Wranglers…
Lil Esther – Yep! Jelle the Ranchgirl guitarist was in The Bugaloos. They asked me to join them and I did that for a year or so It was great fun! Miss mary ann is a dear friend of me.

In those bands you were singing in harmony or duets, how and when did you think about going as a solo act?
Lil Esther – Well, I did some recordings with Tjarco and some members of The Barnstompers which came out on goofin records (Jelle ragtime wrangler arranged that for me) and we wanted to do something with this band so we practised in the barnstompers studio for a while but once again both bands were busy at the time. One day someone wanted to book me for some shows so I used the Tinstars as backing band! Hahaha it worked out pretty well and they tried to get rid of me after that but as we all know now they didn’t succeed…

On the new album, that should be out real soon, Don Cavalli, Robert Williams/Big Sandy and John Lewis wrote songs for you. Tell us more about this collaboration.
Lil Esther – Fabrice is a very good friend of me, he played with The Tinstars several times. He wrote a whole lot of songs for me. Same with Robert, he wrote me 2 songs a long time ago. We recorded them for Rarity but the Tinstar boys didnt Want to go back to the studio to finish them so the deal went sour. Big Sandy recorded them himself but a bit different. Then Empire stepped in so we started the whole recording process again. Both songs are on this new c.d “Love That Man” and “Confusin love” ( the original demo is fantastic!).
I know John Lewis at least 20 years. The Bugaloos played with the Rimshots A WHOLE LOT! John also wrote the Liner notes he is a very dear friend.

Lil Esther Mary Ann
Lil Esther with Miss mary Ann when she replaced Caroline in the Ranch Girls around 1998-1999

Recently, Carl Sonny Leyland wrote a couple of songs for you too…
Lil Esther – Yes he did! 2 fantastic songs we are going to work on soon for an upcoming project. I am real proud he did, I like carl a whole lot! I like his voice very much. On the demo he plays guitar(lead and rhythm) and every Leyland’s fan would love to have/hear them!!

Do you write songs too?
Lil Esther – Nope! I didnt even tried it..! hahaha

Wasn’t that too hard to bring the Tinstars to the studio, as they’re not really known to be studio freaks?
Lil Esther – Are you kidding me?? You know the TINSTARS right?? I had to beg… Blood sweat and tears it cost me! serious!
But it was worth it. Hahaha I am very pleased with the end result and it seems they liked it as there are plans to go back in January to record the new Tinstar album.

A word about the guest players on the cd…
Lil Esther – Let’s see… Arnold from the Bluegrass Boogiemen is on mandolin. A friend of us Ronald Visser plays piano on some tracks. Fiddle is played by a fellow named Joost Van Es (plays with the Hillbilly Boogiemen sometimes) The harmonica is played by our steelguitarist (who plays a lot of instruments pretty good) and the harmony singer is Tinstar Rick. And I sang some harmony with my sister and myself!!

What kind of stuff are you listenin’ right now? What is the last record you bought?
Lil Esther – I mostly listen to Kay starr at the moment. Various girl stuff. And the Carl Sonny Leyland songs of course! Oh! and the Starday recordings of Roger miller on Bear Family.

A last word…
Lil Esther – I’m very pleased that i could do this interview! And I am exited about my new c.d. And there are some good shows coming up. So things looks good for me.

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