New & Cool: Pee Shy Overcome Modesty On New LP

Sophomore album of blissful melodies and harmony may finally give voice to quiet female quartet.

By day, Jenny Juristo Morrison nurses stroke patients back to health as a

speech pathologist in Brooklyn, N.Y. By night, she, singer Cindy Wheeler,

bassist Mary Catherine Guidera and drummer Billy Orrico become Pee Shy.

The band, that is.

"It's P-e-e, S-h-y," said band co-leader Juristo Morrison, 33, snacking on nacho

cheese chips while at her day job in New York. "It's literally what it means. If you

look it up on the Internet, you'll get the Bashful Bladder Organization."

And 732,000 other websites, to be exact. "And pee shy isn't gender-specific,"

she said, explaining that for men, it's a visually triggered fear, while for women,

it has more to do with hearing. "It's an absolutely paralytic condition that you

absolutely cannot pee if you're going to be seen or overheard," she said.

As a band, however, Pee Shy are about to be overheard by an entire nation,

whether they like it or not.

HREF="http://www.addict.com/music/Pee_Shy/Mr_Whisper.ram">"Mr.

Whisper" (RealAudio excerpt), the lead single from their upcoming

sophomore release, Don't Get Too Comfortable, has fast become one of

the most-added tracks at alternative radio stations. And that's nothing to be shy

about.

Perhaps coming into their own as a band and as musicians, Pee Shy's "Mr.

Whisper" contains a slightly blissful style that melds a one-note, lo-fi sound into

a thin layer of complicated, jangly guitar hooks and beautiful vocal harmonies

between Juristo Morrison and Wheeler. "It's power pop with something smart,"

said Juristo Morrison, who holds a master's degree in speech language-

pathology from the University of South Florida, where she also hosted

numerous avant-garde radio shows on National Public Radio.

Adding to their pop sensibilities, band co-founder Wheeler is a national slam-

poetry champion. As a group, the band tackles everything from accordions to an

ebo (a bow designed for use on a guitar, which produces a sound similar to a

violin) to a Casio rhythm box on their latest LP, which hits stores Jan. 27.

The group formed five years ago in Tampa, Fla., as a two-person performance-

art project between Juristo Morrison and singer/songwriter Wheeler, who

hosted open-mic nights at her Three Birds Bookstore. By 1995, Three Birds had

closed shop, and the band had added bassist Guidera, signed to Blue Gorilla

Records and released its acclaimed lo-fi debut, Who Let All The Monkeys

Out. Three years later, Pee Shy becomes a Mercury act, and Juristo

Morrison says it's time to shake any residual modesty that she and her

bandmates may still be hanging on to.

"The reason we moved to New York was to prioritize," Juristo Morrison said,

explaining that Pee Shy feared getting dropped after Blue Gorilla's other artist,

Joan Osborne, broke big two years ago. "We tried to go about making a second

record by being near the record company, so we could develop some sort of

relationship and not get dropped. The reason we came to New York was for

Pee Shy."

Now, Pee Shy takes priority for Juristo Morrison and her bandmates who, aside

from their waitressing jobs, have been spending the past few Tuesday nights

performing in residence at Philadelphia's Cadillac Grill. This summer, the band

would love to play songstress Sarah McLachlan's popular all-women Lilith Fair,

she said. "It's so easy to say that our dreams have already come true. When we

made our first record, we could barely play our instruments," Juristo Morrison

said. "Cindy (Wheeler) and I could naturally sing, and I had a clarinet

background. So where does that take you? But to make and release a record

with a major label?

"The dream has already happened for us," she added. "So now, it's time for a

new dream. I go to sleep going, 'OK ... I wanna get on Conan O'Brien,' and all

that. But if the rug got pulled out from under us tomorrow, we'd know we already

accomplished something truly wonderful." [Mon., Jan.

19, 1998, 9 a.m. PST]