Lemony moments

Tori Roze’s mom “used to hold Janis Joplin’s Southern Comfort offstage.”
  • Tori Roze’s mom “used to hold Janis Joplin’s Southern Comfort offstage.”

Victoria Roze’s Facebook page says she worked as an art model for years. Perhaps this explains the revealing cover art on the new Hot Mess CD Turbulence: “The idea came to me like a bolt of lightning. I just had to follow through. The cover is a vintage Ford F-150 pickup truck flying off what looks like a hill. But when you open it up, you see that the hill is actually my right cheek [as in buttock], and the back of the album is the back of my head and [nude] torso.”

When I ask Roze if there is any special meaning, she says, “The artwork is a nod to the title of our first album, From the Hip, hence the pickup truck flying off my hip into the air. The band was pretty shocked at first, but we all like to joke a lot, so it’s all in good fun.”

From the Hip was nominated for Best Blues Album at the 2011 San Diego Music Awards, says the singer/trumpet player. It did not win.

Roze’s band, the Hot Mess, was launched at Portugalia in 2008. The band includes her mom, Lee Clark, on flute, evidence that Roze comes from a musical family. Along with playing in peace-and-love era bands, “[Mom] used to hold Janis Joplin’s Southern Comfort for her offstage.” So, how’s gigging with mom working out? “She is a wonderful person to have in the band. Her life experience and ‘mom’ moments keep us all in check when we’re up in the rafters about anything.”

Roze has a rich, soul-mama voice that seems to go wherever it wants without limitation. The Hot Mess is five jazz- and R&B-informed players: Johnny Alexander on guitar, Jordan Morita on trombone, Harley Magsino on bass, and Charlie Weller on drums. “The driven and complex music on this album simply reflects each of us as band members. Was it intentional to make the music this way? No. Was it visceral and did it just happen? Yes.”

After doing a semester of music and theater classes at London’s Old Globe, Roze returned to California and graduated with a degree in theater from UC Santa Cruz.

Is there a single thought that unifies all of the songs on Turbulence? “That life is turbulent and unpredictable,” Roze says, “but we are all human and help each other feel better understood. Every one struggles with the themes present on this album, like money, self-realization, lust, commitment, perfection, distance, loss, death. It’s best to make lemonade out of these lemony moments.”

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