March 20, 2003

Damone to Make Chicago Debut

By Randy J. Klodz

Singer/guitarist Noelle LeBlanc has been to China and back—and she’s only 17. She was not taking part in a student foreign exchange program while in Shanghai, she was Waltham, Mass. pop-punk quartet Damone. Damone’s travels will bring them to their Chicago debut supporting a bill headlined by the Ataris on Mar. 30 at the House of Blues.

LeBlanc is joined in Damone by David Pino (guitar/vocals), Vasquez (bass/vocals) and Dustin Hengst (drums), making her the only female of the group, but she doesn’t let her age or gender get in the way of rocking, whether it be onstage or on the major label debut “From the Attic.” “It wasn’t really hard getting used to,” said LeBlanc. A lot of my friends are guys—I’m kind of like a tomboy.”

The 11 tracks of “From the Attic” are filled to the brim with feel-good melodies and the pensive lyrics ranging from mall visits, BMX bicycle riding and teenage heartbreak that one could expect from an average 17-year-old vocalist, but who could pull them off as strong and poignant as LeBlanc?

Take the closing track, “Leave Me Alone,” which starts: “I thought I made it clear that I don’t want you here.” On the rocking “Carwash Romance,” LeBlanc’s ability to let the lyrics flow becomes strongly apparent as she sings: “If I greet him with a smile / And tell him he is fine / Maybe he’ll say yes if I ask him to be mine / Greet him with a treat or tease him at the dance / He can be the boy to be my carwash romance.”

Another attribute that could become a bump in the road in the lives many other young artists is that LeBlanc is blind in her right eye. But, like everything else that’s come along, that doesn’t get in her way, though she’s unsure how she became blind. “They say there are two different stories behind it,” LeBlanc said. “I was either born with it or when I was five I went to one of my friend’s make-up party and I was putting on mascara and there was an infection in the brush thing and it got in my eye and it ate at my cornea. I have a scar on my cornea and I can’t really see and I have to take a pill everyday so it doesn’t hurt. It’s become a part of me, I guess you could call me Right Eye Lopes,” LeBlanc said referring to the late TLC member that went by the nickname Left Eye Lopes.

Other scheduled acts on the bill include The Juliana Theory and Further Seems Forever. The House of Blues is at 329 N. Dearborn, with the show start time slated for 6:30 p.m. For more information on Damone, check out www.damone.net.

Damone Photo: c/o RCA Records