Interview: Pointer Sisters perform Saturday at Seneca Niagara Casinoby jmaloni
Preview by Joshua Maloni
The Pointer Sisters are a little bit country, and a little bit rock 'n' roll.
And a little bit gospel ... and a little bit pop ... and a little bit R&B.
In fact, The Pointer Sisters are genre-less, choosing to perform music of all types.
"It was important for us to be different when we first started," Ruth Pointer said Wednesday. "It was one of the reasons why we even decided (to form a group)."
"We loved blues. We liked a little taste of jazz. And we also liked pop music. So, we just wanted to sort of dip and dab in all of it, and bring it all together," she said.
The Pointer Sisters scored a hit in 1974 with the country tune "Fairytale." They followed that up in 1975 with the R&B number "How Long (Betcha Got a Chick on the Side)," and again in 1979 with the Bruce Springsteen-penned "Fire." In 1981, The Pointer Sisters scored with adult contemporary staple "Slow Hand." The band's biggest hits came later in the decade with dance-pop numbers "I'm So Excited" (1982, and made more famous a few years later thanks to Jessie Spano and "Saved By The Bell"), "Neutron Dance" and "Jump (For My Love)" (both 1984).
Music notwithstanding, The Pointer Sisters were different the moment they entered the recording studio.
"My sisters, Bonnie and June, started as a duo. They later pulled Anita in and it was a trio," Ruth explained. "So, when we got a substantial contract ... when my sisters got a substantial recording contract, they asked me if I wanted to be a part of the group. They said that that would make us different than the other female groups, which usually always were three. It was usually always a trio: The Supremes, Martha Reeves & the Vandellas. It was always three girls. We'd be different; we'd be four.
"So that started us. And we always liked to be different in the way we dressed. We were wearing vintage clothing. We loved different types of music. Not saying that we didn't like the songs that were out there, because we were great lovers of the works of female groups that have gone before us. Big fans of all those ladies. Martha Reeves. Diana Ross. The Supremes. The Chantels. Oh my god! I mean, we go back - way back - as far as being fans of other female groups. But we wanted to be different."
Music lovers will notice another difference when The Pointer Sisters perform Saturday at the Seneca Niagara Casino in Niagara Falls.
"Well, basically, we are from the old school, and we don't have a lot of fanfare," Ruth said. "We have no dancers; we have no magic; there's nothing going on except singing and us having a good time with a great band.
"And our audiences seem to appreciate and enjoy it, and so we have a good time. ... If we're having a good time, our audience seems to be infected by it. And I just enjoy it. Really, genuinely enjoy it."
Forty years after first hitting the road, The Pointer Sisters are still a family act, with Ruth and Anita sharing the stage with Ruth's offspring.
"Our band is great. I love hearing my sister on stage," Ruth said. "I have my granddaughter (Sadako) on stage with me this weekend. We sort of go back and forth between my granddaughter and my daughter (Issa), and give them both a chance to perform with us."
"It's an experience, and it's a very special, special feeling to be up there with my family," she said.
Fans can expect their own special experience, as The Pointer Sisters take them down (Musical) Memory Lane.
"We have a basic show that we do everywhere," Ruth said. "We haven't been in the studio and recorded anything new. And, in my experience, my audience really isn't interested in hearing anything new! Not that I'm aware of.
"I remember years ago, when we would have a new album coming out, and we would try singing a new song on stage, and they'd sit up. They're looking at you like a deer in headlights. Like, 'What are you doing? We want to hear that other song (laughs.)'
"I've been to concerts where I've seen that happen to other artists that I've admired. 'I want to hear that other song!'
"So, basically, we sing the songs that our audiences have made popular from our best albums, from our best work, and we enjoy doing that. Every now and then, we may throw in something. We have a couple songs that we throw in that we just like to have fun with, that aren't songs that are ours, per se. Have fun with it.
"That's basically it. We just dance and sing and enjoy the music."
The Pointer Sisters perform Saturday at 8 p.m. at Seneca Niagara Casino. For more information, or for tickets, visit http://www.senecaniagaracasino.com/entertainment.