Band Name WTF of the Week: Tippy Canoe and the Paddlemen

Band Name WTF of the Week is a new column here at All Shook Down in which we will investigate the stories, meanings and intentions behind some of the wackiest, most interesting, and more ridiculous names of bands gracing S.F. stages. How to do this? By asking the people who came up with them. We begin today with Tippy Canoe (aka Michele Kappel-Stone) from Tippy Canoe and the Paddlemen, who perform Thursday at Hemlock Tavern.

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Tippy Canoe
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So how did you come up with this name?

The first time I used the name Tippy Canoe was when I had been called up on stage randomly at a Patsy Cline & the Memphis G-Spots show in San Francisco. Miss Patsy asked my name and I was feeling kind of cheeky, so out burst "Tippy Canoe." It must have been some brain glitch that sent a phrase from past history lessons to my tongue -- "Tippecanoe and Tyler, too." Years later, when I joined The Frisky Frolics, a 1920's band, I remembered it and decided it would be the right stage name for a uke-slinger.

When I hear the name Tippy Canoe, it makes me think of fragility -- of something that's struggling to move forward but may face catastrophe (or at least submersion) at any moment. What does the name mean to you?

That's life in a nutshell, isn't it? Walking the high wire; reaching for your dream and possibly taking a fall. I am compelled to put myself out there. Looking back, the name does fit me in that sense, but there wasn't much thought put into it at the start. It just felt right. The addition of "the Paddlemen" was almost a case of over-thinking it, though. I was trying to come up with names and was throwing out "hey, how about the Oars" or "what about the Capsized Companions" -- overly complicated names or ones that just didn't click. My friend Pat Johnson simply said "the Paddlemen" and it was perfect.

Why do you think it's a good name?

I don't know if it's a good name, but people remember it and I hope they remember us.

Tell me about your music. How do you describe it to strangers?

It's old-timey pop or roots music. It's been inspired by rockabilly, blues, early R&B, 60's rock, 20's and 30's jazz, and early country. Plus I love a good hook and a strong pop sensibility. 

What else should people know about Tippy Canoe and the Paddlemen?

You mean like if any of us were born with extra fingers or toes or if one of us can whistle the Star Spangled Banner backwards? Well... I'd like to suggest to your readers that they find out for themselves by signing up for ukulele lessons, buying a recording, or coming to a show.

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