Miss Erma is The Lost Church’s resident little sister. At the theater, she’s in the musicals and performs solo with her guitar or with a variety of instruments in all kinds of combos – she even bartends. “The Lost Church is my home and my family,” Miss Erma said. “It’s a safe and warm place to share your art and have people really listening to the music you make because of the way Brett and Lizzie set it up.”
She has a voice that at once lilts and haunts her evocative, playful original songs and covered ditties; a style of playing strings that swings and falls, turning her unwittingly into a corps dansant.
Growing up in Satellite Beach, Florida, Miss Erma started playing piano at six, like her older sister, but it was starting the violin at ten that really hooked her. “It’s a social instrument you can play with other people – that’s what I like about it.” She headed to college with her violin, a music ed major at Florida State University. “I’m a highly sensitive person and music is a way to express that. In college, I fell in love with it and learned to respect music and learned to work hard for it. It became a goal. I liked the way playing music made me feel.” There, Erma also started writing music, playing more guitar and “doing the singer-songwriter thing.”
In 2010, Miss Erma left Miami, where she was teaching music, for San Francisco. She dove head first into the scene, melding her classical training with modern muses, happy to be playing different styles of music with a slew of different people. It was when playing violin with Roger Rocha & the Goldenhearts that she was first introduced to The Lost Church. “I thought, ‘Wow! I have never been to a place like this before.’ Then I booked a Miss Erma show there, back when I had a full band, and I’ve been deeply intertwined with The Lost Church and the Clines ever since.” She also plays there with her classical violin outlet Manzanita Quartet and with Seth Lael as the duet Seth & Erma, which is heading to SXSW in March.
Miss Erma was ecstatic that she could put her love and training in musical theater to use at The Lost Church in owner Brett Cline’s musicals. She’s been in seven of them, with the first one based on a song she wrote called “Weapons.”
For you fabulous LC musical theater geeks, here’s the list:
“I absolutely hope to be in more Lost Church musicals. Sign me up!”
Outside of The Lost Church, Miss Erma plays solo, heading a band, or with others, like in comedienne Margaret Cho’s band at the Castro Theater (she also recorded with her on the Grammy winning song “I Want to Kill my Rapist”). You also might have seen her at the Great Star Theater, Great American Music Hall, Bottom of the Hill, Café du Nord, Viracocha, Rickshaw Stop, Makeout Room, Poster Room at the Fillmore, and even Grace Cathedral, where she played with the Classical Revolution Orchestra. She also sometimes still plays in Miami and had a couple gigs in Cuba last year. “But I love The Lost Church the most!” Two years ago, she recorded her first full length album, Bambina, and she’s starring in Lost Church board member Richard Something’s film Hell!, coming out this year.
“The Lost Church is a place to share the music. There are a lot of places where it’s not like that – where the sound might not be good or there’s a game on the TV in the same room or the people around aren’t receptive and the audience isn’t listening. Too much time that’s the norm. Brett and Lizzie always make sure The Lost Church shows are special. We need smaller venues where people can share with one another – between musicians and between audience members and between musicians and audience members. It’s nice when the musicians can have a dialogue with the audience and allow them to come into the world of the songwriter a little bit more. Not just during the show, but before and after the performance, as well. The Lost Church makes communication very accessible, creating a sense of community. It would be great to have many Lost Churches!”