Giddy-Up, Helicopter!

Chicks Rock: The Top 10

click to enlarge Giddy Up, Helicopter! - Shanna Gillette
Shanna Gillette
Giddy Up, Helicopter!

By now, most indie rock fans on either side of the Bay have the charmingly distinct name Giddy-Up, Helicopter! on speed dial in their memory bank. The Tampa quintet has garnered rave reviews in various area publications (including this one) and won over scads of loyal fans with impressive gigs such as their recent supporting spot for the Silversun Pickups last month at Crowbar. Giddy-Up, Helicopter! is set to issue their first long-play, I Am Secretary, later this month in time for their May 12 appearance at WMNF's annual Tropical Heatwave.

The band's sound wraps indie-rock fuzz around a rock 'n' roll heart and employs organic instrumentation that proves a well-played lap steel can sound far more interesting than something programmed on a laptop. Yes, this Sonic Youth-loving quintet is all about the requisite outsider persona and too-cool-for-school 'tude, but there's also a warmth to their music that pulls the listener in, especially the mysterious, montage-style lyrics and shy, frail delivery of guitarist/vocalist Jay Conner. (Formerly Jill, Jay is now living as a man and plans to undergo sex-change surgery.)

"We want people to know we're capable of intricate music," says Nicole Schleif, aka Scout, who plays lap steel, guitar and banjo.

"You're a nerd," Conner quips.

Everyone laughs and takes another gulp of beer. We're at one of the band's favorite haunts, New World Brewery in Ybor City, on a Wednesday night. Schleif and Conner are joined by their band mates: bassist/keyboardist Sandi Streppone (aka Momma D), guitarist Nikki Navarro (aka Cuddles), and drummer/keyboardist Ryann Slauson. This is the day of the week the fun-loving friends usually align their hectic schedules to rehearse.

They range in age from barely legal to drink to nearing the Big 3-0. The younger members of the band work menial jobs and attend local colleges, while Streppone teaches math at an area high school. Some of the women at the table are lesbians, but except for a brief, pre-Giddy-up fling between Schleif and Conner, dating only occurs with people who are outside the band. "It makes it a lot easier that way," Streppone says.

Plus, the band's been too busy to get bogged down with intra-band drama. Giddy-Up, Helicopter! plans to tour in support of their new, self-produced album this summer, when classes let out. "We love playing live and that's what we want to do," Conner says. "In a different city every night and make a living at it."

Upcoming release: I Am Secretary

Key track: "The Life and Death of Aurora Montgomery"

Upcoming area gig: May 12, WMNF's Tropical Heatwave, Ybor City

More info: myspace.com/giddyuphelicopter

Music Issue 2007: Chicks Rock

Tampa Bay's top 10 women musicians — plus 100 must-have CDs by women artists


Natty Moss-Bond
Cover
Chicks Rock: The Top 10
BY ERIC SNIDER
Yo Majesty
Cover
Chicks Rock: The Top 10
BY WADE TATANGELO
Lorna Bracewell
Cover
Chicks Rock: The Top 10
BY WADE TATANGELO
Belinda Womack
Cover
Chicks Rock: The Top 10
BY ERIC SNIDER
Rebekah Pulley
Cover
Chicks Rock: The Top 10
BY WADE TATANGELO
Giddy-Up, Helicopter!
Cover
Chicks Rock: The Top 10
BY WADE TATANGELO
Valerie Gillespie
Cover
Chicks Rock: The Top 10
BY ERIC SNIDER
Tina Louise
Cover
Chicks Rock: The Top 10
BY WADE TATANGELO
Anna Kate Mackle
Cover
Chicks Rock: The Top 10
BY WAYNE GARCIA
Geri X
Cover
Chicks Rock: The Top 10
BY WADE TATANGELO
The Essentials
Cover
100 Must-Have Albums by Women Artists
The Best of the Fests
Cover
A smorgasbord of Florida music festivals.
BY LEILANI POLK
The Definitive Venue List
Cover
Music Issue 2007
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