One of the influences Rhode Island-based musician Becky Chace most prominently mentions is Bruce Springsteen, and it’s easy to understand why: Her music shares his knack for social commentary, his straight-ahead style and, in many cases, his pop sensibility.
The Boss has his influences, too. Take the first single off of his new album "Magic," called "Radio Nowhere" — the guitar lick that drives the rocking song bears more than a passing resemblance to "867-5309/Jenny" by Tommy Tutone.
"It does not," said Chace, driving through Pennsylvania to the first show of her fall tour.
She then took a moment and thought about the song, singing the guitar part from memory until the unlikely pieces fit.
"That’s funny," she said. "I sent a former manager of mine a CD, and he was ripping it apart because he said [that] on one of the songs I ripped off a lick from a [Bob] Dylan song. And I said, ‘You mean this particular song,’ and he said, ‘No, this other song,’ and I said, ‘I can’t help it if Dylan rips off himself!’"
But that’s the nature of songwriting, she said. Sometimes Chace and Brian Minisce — her musical partner for nearly 10 years — will come up with a new tune with trying to figure out how to play another artist’s song. Everything has its influences, she said. "There’s only so many chords."
THROUGH EIGHT albums, Chace has used plenty of them. She’s touring in support of her latest CD, "A River Under Me," which the duo put this album out in what Chace said is "true, do-it-yourself style." They performed in a makeshift studio in Minisce’s basement, purchasing some equipment in order to make the record.
"Brian and I have been performing for almost 10 years, and we’ve never put a CD out with just the two of us. It’s always been band CDs," she said. "It’s a little bit more mellow, more in a folk vein. I’ve always said my music is acoustic rock, so this is just more stripped-down and raw than any of our previous albums."
She and Minisce will play selections from that album and others when they hit Alexandria for a rare double-header: Performing at Cameron Perks Coffeehouse (4911 Brenman Park Drive) on Friday, Oct. 26 at 7 p.m. and at St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub (2300 Mount Vernon Ave.) on Wednesday, Oct. 31 at 7 p.m. "We have a date in West Virginia in between, so Alexandria’s actually on the way back," she said.
Chace, who is frequently compared to Bonnie Raitt as a singer, is a five-time winner of the Best Female Vocalist award from the Providence Phoenix and was called one of "Rhode Island’s most celebrated singer/songwriters" by Motif Magazine. She’s opened for acts ranging from America to Joan Jett to the Gin Blossoms. Enthusiastic support from her New England fans has always followed her.
"Honestly, I always say this, but I just feel it’s because I’ve hung around there for so long. It’s a small state and I had some big shows early on. I got to be known as a good vocalist, and my band was always there for a big show," she said. "People responded to the kind of music we were doing. We had a high-energy kind of show. There’s not that big of a scene in Rhode Island, although Providence is a place with a lot of cool music."
On a 12-state, 25-date tour, Chace is celebrating nearly a decade as a singer/songwriter. She played in some cover bands after college, but became serious about songwriting in around 1998.
Her motivation? "I really didn’t want to get a job," she deadpanned, "but I also had a lot of things to say. Since then, I’ve just had the support of a lot of good people."