Miss Marcy is a powerhouse. She may not look like it as she relaxes in a Whole Foods Market in old East Dallas, reflecting on her oeuvre, but she's every bit as brash and confident as the blues diva she inhabits onstage. A throwback as a performer with her vintage dresses and long, dirty-blonde hair, she's a 5-foot-4 firebrand who bristles with confidence and bleeds the blues.
"We do mostly drinking and cheating songs," says Miss Marcy, whose full name is Marcy Rodsky. "We focus on the lyrics and the sexual energy that comes from the stage, from the music itself. I am in my own world. The music is seamless now."
2013 was a good year for Miss Marcy. Her debut full-length, Miss Marcy and Her Texas Sugar Daddies, was released on CSP Records, a label out of Forney, and Marcy won the Dallas Observer Music Award for Best Blues Act. Not bad for a teacher originally from El Paso.
"I was a late blues bloomer," she admits. "I was raised on Tejano music growing up in West Texas. I came to Dallas not knowing a lot about the blues, but I connected the dots quickly."
The catalyst for that process came when Miss Marcy took a music appreciation class at the University of North Texas. She was already enrolled at the prestigious music school when a summer class on Southern roots music exposed her to a genre that would change her life.
"I was hanging out at these blues jams learning about the music. I already knew about 1940s glamour girls like Bessie Smith and Etta James, but now I knew more about the blues," Miss Marcy recalls. Then, she says, "I was told to check out this man named Hash Brown. I followed him around, learning songs and then I formed my own band." That was around 2005 and after that, there was no stopping. In the time-honored tradition of classic blues performers, Miss Marcy will play just about anyplace that will have her. She's performed in close to 100 area venues. These days, she performs at least three times a week at spots like The Balcony Club and Alligator Café. Ever since her first gig at Main Street Bar and Grill nine years ago, she's been hooked on playing live music.
"I was already in college when I first hit the stage," she says. "I thought to myself that this was just too much fun. I am very high energy. I didn't want any down time. I wanted it to be high energy the minute I hit the stage."
The only oddity about Miss Marcy's musical trajectory is that her first album has been so long in coming, even though she's been gigging constantly in the Dallas area for almost a decade. In fact, Miss Marcy went into the studio a few years back and cut some demos. Those recordings received praise from local DJs and Miss Marcy ended up rerecording much of that material for Sugar Daddies. The difference between the demos and the new versions is startling.
"This album actually has someone else's money behind it," Miss Marcy says, referring to her label, CSP, which bankrolled the finished recordings. "The demo was released on a singer's budget."
Although she enjoys teaching -- she's an ESL teacher at Eastfield Community College and Northwood University -- Miss Marcy hopes that her new album and constant gigging will allow her to play music full time. Anyone who has witnessed one of her shows can testify to the energy of her performances. Live, Miss Marcy is strength and sensuality personified. She cajoles every bit of double-entendre sassiness from both well-chosen covers and fantastic original material.
"Some of the songs I cover are from female blues singers from back in the day," Miss Marcy says. "That stuff is so naughty. It's suggestive and it's raw and it's so fun. I can tell when I am singing those songs that the women are listening. They are moving their shoulders. That just gets everybody excited."
Unlike many current blues performers, Miss Marcy writes most of her own material. The songs on Sugar Daddies are rich creations that take as much from R&B as they do the blues. Songs such as "Restraining Order" and "One More Man (Let Me Down)" are hard-hitting, humorous slabs of high-charged blues.
"You got to stay away from the 10 covers that every blues band does -- 'Sweet Home Chicago' and stuff like that," she says. "I am not a blues purist. Every single one of my songs is some tortuous memory. You can't write songs like that until you've had some heartbreak."
After last November's release party at Poor David's Pub, which was simulcast on KNON-FM 89.3, Miss Marcy knew that 2014 could be the year that makes or breaks her. "I am just hustling every way I can," the singer says. "Blues music is the soundtrack of my life."
The hustling includes booking and promoting shows and keeping up with the money. Miss Marcy may perform with a band, but that's about the only thing she needs help with. "I manage all of the money," Miss Marcy says emphatically. "Both my parents ran their own businesses so I was accustomed to handling money. I also pay all of the musicians." Miss Marcy has worked with some of the best blues players in Dallas. Her current band includes guitarist Dave Burris and bassist Mike Beall. Like many acts, Marcy has had trouble finding a steady drummer. She does, however, see a benefit in that as well: "We just do it as a trio and that makes it easier dividing up the money."
That sort of pragmatic, business-minded approach makes Miss Marcy all the more prone to speak her mind. One opinion she doesn't mince words on is how she feels that Dallas has too many top-flight blues musicians.
"We have more blues musicians than we have an audience for," she claims. "We have great, talented musicians. People just need to get away from their televisions and enjoy live music. You don't have to get drunk. You can just have a snack. We have music that you can dance to. Women can come out and shake it."
Miss Marcy also isn't afraid to stick up for herself when the needs arises -- a characteristic that is often necessary for a musician trying to get paid for her work. It seems some venue owners have reneged when it comes time to pay. But even then, Marcy always seems to find the silver lining.
"One time, a club bounced three checks on me," Marcy says. "Before I went to the D.A., we agreed that they would pay me in product, so I loaded up my car with $400 worth of steak. For six months, we had these great parties at my house."
Sassy at every turn, but determinedly optimistic as well, Miss Marcy isn't about to let anyone walk all over her. That goes for music, business and anything else in life. "Never walk out with nothing," she insists. "That's the lesson. Drag out two bar stools if you have to."