By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
Dana Smith has always been a performer. Growing up, she attended Lincoln School of the Arts and Milwaukee High School of the Arts and could be found performing with various groups throughout Milwaukee.
After college, Smith along with some friends formed a band. While the group didn’t work out like they planned, it gave Smith the chance to try her luck as a solo performer and thus her stage name Ms. Lotus Fankh, a name she originally suggested for the band, was born.
Ms. Lotus Fankh is known for her alternative and funk inspired sounds and her one woman loop pedal shows. Her shows feature eclectic sounds that pay homage to the original song while incorporating a new spin.
“I love taking music and making music that speaks to the soul,” Smith said. “I’m a big fan of older music. I’ve always had an older soul and to this day, my favorite band is Earth, Wind & Fire.”
Before getting on stage, Smith runs through the logistics, which involves a checklist, visualizing the audience and a little bit of anxiety. Then, she shuts the logistics part of brain off and enters Lotus mode.
Her objective each performance is to match the energy of the audience.
“Sharing the energy of the people, it’s the best feeling in the world,” she said.
Smith, as Ms. Lotus Fankh, along with Orlando Pena, DJ DRiPSweat, Anthony Deutsch and Alyssia Dominguez will be performing at the Riverworks “Music on the Beerline.” The event will take place at 3350 N. Holton Ave., from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 27. Ray Nitti, a recording artists and local developer, will be hosting the event.
Deutsch, a local jazz musician and one of the featured performers, is excited for the event. His set is 20 minutes long and he plans to play his original music, which can be found under the name Father Sky on Spotify.
“I’m looking forward to this,” he said. “Anytime there’s a community aspect, I get excited about that.”
The Milwaukee music scene has a lot of different groups and musicians, Deutsch said, and sometimes it can feel fragmented. The concert is an opportunity to meet with other local talent, he said.
Deutsch began playing piano when he was 8 years old. By the time he could drive, Deutsch was playing gigs at various venues.
“I don’t have any proper rituals,” he said. “Each is gig is very different. Sometimes it’s my music, sometimes I’m in the background or I’m DJing a wedding, but it’s paying attention to the energy in the room and matching it.”
As a longtime musician, the most rewarding part for Deutsch is knowing how much he’s grown as a musician.
“There’s growth involved, which is pretty fulfilling,” he said. “I know I’m better than when I started. That might be the best part, to recognize that there has been growth.”
Smith is likewise excited for the concert and is looking forward to seeing local vendors such as Chase My Creations. The Milwaukee music scene is unique, it is something different and something amazing, she said.
Like the majority of Milwaukee’s art scene, the music scene tends to be underfunded and to operate in silos, but within each silo is a community, she said, especially in the Black music community. Artists support one another, she said, it is like a family.
“When it’s all Milwaukee musicians lined up its always a good show,” Smith said.