Getting The Supergroup Back Together: Nikki Glaspie Discusses Super Sonic Shorties Project

The drummer spoke about assembling the band of talented musicians ahead of a pair of upcoming performances.

By Ryan Storm Jun 12, 2024 9:50 am PDT

With performances at the Levitt Pavilion in Westport, Connecticut and at the third annual Northlands Music Arts Festival on the horizon, JamBase spoke with drummer Nikki Glaspie about bringing her Super Sonic Shorties project back to the festival taking place this weekend in Swanzey, New Hampshire.

The supergroup played at last year’s festival alongside Glaspie’s band The Nth Power, and the lineup featured household names.

“Super Sonic Shorties is a collective of musicians who happen to be female and have toured the world with, well, everyone,” Glaspie noted. “We can sit here and name any artist and one of us has probably played or recorded with them.”

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Like in any industry, women face economic disparity and differences in pay compared to male artists – so the opportunity to get together an all-woman band was an exciting prospect.

“If I could have 20 people on the gig at the same time, I would,” Glaspie said of the rotating cast of musicians she can call upon. The Shorties lineup is made up of friends who are all involved in a number of different projects, so while there are some staple members, each gig usually features an assortment of eight or nine musicians.

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Super Sonic Shorties

While the band was tapped to play Northlands last year as their first Stateside gig, their debut came at the Funk It Up at the Fred destination festival in St. Croix in the spring of 2022.

“I was looking for an excuse to play with some of my friends who I hadn’t seen in a long time and that’s kind of how it started,” Glaspie said. “We went down there, crushed it, it was awesome – and someone saw it and wanted us to do it again.”

When talking about being in the music scene as a woman, Glaspie took the time to talk about so-called “girl bands.” “I’m 40 years old,” the drummer noted. “I am a woman – there’s a lot of disrespect when it comes to female musicians.” Seeking to change the language and put together a supergroup of musicians who happen to be female without making it all about that fact is the purpose of Super Sonic Shorties.

The group performs on Friday at Connecticut’s Levitt Pavilion before their Northlands appearance, and the all-star lineup for this weekend includes bassist Tonya Sweets (Lizzo, Climax), percussionist Marcie Chapa (Beyoncé), guitarist Kat Dyson (Prince, Cyndi Lauper) who Glaspie sees as a lifelong hero and the “funkiest human alive.” Frequent collaborator keyboardist Amy Bellamy (Club D’Elf) continues the lineup alongside Trey Anastasio Band members Natalie Cressman and Jennifer Hartswick on horns and vocals, plus dedicated vocalists Shira Elias (Cool Cool Cool) and Kanika Moore (Doom Flamingo).

“We’ve got a stacked band.”

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Due to the rare nature of this band’s performances, Super Sonic Shorties doesn’t rehearse together – acting in kind of a “just add water” scenario where the members learn songs on their own before coming together and walking on stage to crush the show.

“I try to set people up for success, which includes song selection, setlist, and the overall vibe of the show,” Glaspie said of the spur-of-the-moment nature of the gig. As a bandleader, the drummer knows all of her bandmates’ strengths and weaknesses well, tailoring the experience to result in the best possible music.

“I know once we come together it’ll be a real super band.”

According to Glaspie, Northlands has an incredible vibe that is different than your average festival in the Northeast. Not only owing to the staff and organizing team but due to the bands on the bill, each musician cultivates the family and home-y energy found at events like Jam Cruise and Jazz Fest – but taking place on a smaller scale in New Hampshire.

Aside from this weekend’s Super Sonic Shorties gigs, you can catch Glaspie on tour with The Nth Power, Mike Dillon & Punkadelick, Trouble No More, and more.

Single-day tickets are available for Northlands this weekend. Those unable to make it can tune in with their nugs.net subscription to a livestream of the whole weekend. Super Sonic Shorties perform on the Mountain Stage at 1 p.m. ET this Saturday, June 15.

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