The Beatdown

If Nina has anything to say about it, this story will have a happy ending.

But the deal was complicated and ended after the release of Shades. Storey acknowledges that when she parted ways with Navarre, she lost some momentum. But if she's bitter, you'd never know it. Storey isn't one to talk shit; that's not her style. All she'd say about Navarre is that the experience taught her what to do and what not to do. She remains undaunted and insists that her best days are not behind her. In her mind, she's just starting to scratch the surface of what she wants to do musically. After a decade, she's finally starting to hit her stride.

This would have made a great sound bite if Storey were a politician, but let's face it: From a marketing standpoint, she's a little past her prime. She's not that same wide-eyed twenty-something she once was. Music isn't like a jury -- you know, the longer you wait for a verdict, the better your chances are.

"I don't necessarily define success as just unit sales," Storey replied after I pointed that out. "Commercially, the idea is to reach out and touch as many people as possible. If that translates into record sales or ticket sales, then fine. But I'm not super-comfortable saying, 'Well, I want to sell a lot of records.' I just want to put out amazing music that touches people and changes them in a very positive way. That's my life's pursuit.

"Everything is so fleeting, so I try not to take things for granted," she added. "That's something that's been ingrained in me."

Storey may not have a high-powered publicist on retainer anymore and she may be back doing things at a grassroots level, but she's fine with that. After all, that's how she's operated for most of the past ten years.

So when she told me about a friend of hers in L.A. who's had a major-label deal for the past five years and has not released anything, I believed her when she said, "It breaks my heart." Because she's not waiting around for any record-label sugar daddy to finance her dreams.

Storey's making it happen on her own, Ani DiFranco style, with the help of her mom, who works the phones like she's stumping for Easter Seals. "If she thinks something's not a great idea, we'll talk about it," Storey said. "There's definitely some decisions where I've been like, 'Oh, God, I wish I hadn't done that.' And she'll be like, 'Well, that's what you wanted to do.' She's pretty laid-back. She's a kind person, and she works very hard."

Still, it can't all have been sunshine and roses. To keep the same manager for ten years is pretty astounding -- let alone a manager who also happens to be your mom. "It's all about respect, respecting her position," Storey explained, referring to Jan as her "manager" rather than her mother. "It's like any long-term relationship: You go through things and you grow through things. And we both come from this place of just trying to be nice to people and hope that they're nice back."

As we wound things up, I couldn't help but be struck by Storey's passion, sincerity and humility. She wasn't the superficial diva I'd expected. She didn't have that sense of entitlement I'd assumed she'd have. In fact, both she and Jan thanked me profusely -- as though this were her first big interview, ever. While I don't think Nina Storey's the next big thing, she's definitely the real deal.

So don't be surprised if you see me at her CD-release party at Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom next Friday, December 12, or at the Fox Theatre on Saturday, December 27. (She'll also be performing with Wendy Wooat Swallow Hill this Friday, December 5, and doing a full-band show the next day at the Virgin Megastore in the Denver Pavilions.)

Aw, shucks, I guess this is pretty fluffy, after all.

Every rose has its thorn:A few weekends back, butt-rock poster boy Brett Michaels dropped by the Bluebird for what amounted to a touring version of Where Are They Now?Since Michaels fronts one of the few relics from the Revlon era that can still pack Fiddler's, I expected a sellout. So me and my tireless sidekick, the American Biggolo, showed up for the gig a little early and were shocked to find only fifty or sixty people.

By the time Michaels took the stage, Biggie was ready to strangle me for dragging him along. But I just had to witness Michaels's transformation from Monster of Rock to Monster of Mock.

As Michaels treated the '80s hangers-ons to kid-tested, mother-approved cuts from the Poison years as well as, gulp, his solo material, the only thing holding my pal Big's attention was a non-stop parade of Red Bull and Jagers. While I was pumping my fist alongside the Camaro contingent, Big was medicating himself at the back bar, and by the time I caught back up with him, he was speaking in tongues. He kept muttering something about "boogie shrapnel"; assuming that someone had spilled a drink on Big while they were dancing, I chalked the line up to the inadvertently clever shit people say when they're tanked.

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