I was born in Cape Canaveral, but we moved to Massachusetts when I was three years old, and I have lived there ever since. I grew up with a grand piano in my house and listening to all kinds of music on vinyl was a common occurrence in our household. My Dad liked show tunes, and my Mom liked stuff like Sergio Mendes and Steely Dan. They both listened to classical music too. I loved all of it! My Dad took me to a brass band concert on the common type thing, and I remember just thinking how amazing it all sounded! My older brother started buying rock vinyl records in the 70s, and I really got into that stuff. Also, we had a great rock radio station I listened to as well growing up. One Christmas I was given a Sony Walkman for cassettes, and I would sit and learn rock songs by ear at the piano for hours on end, rewinding and playing section by section until I had it just right! I did take some classical piano lessons for a few years, but I found it didn’t seem to help me that much when it came to rock music, which was what I was really interested in. I loved The Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, Rush, Yes, Genesis….you name it. I was in the high school band (flute and piano), and also a cool side project led by my high school music teacher where we played rock and even did a real recording session. 

I went to the University of Massachusetts starting in 1985 and—you know that song “Money For Nothing” by Dire Straits? It was just— it was playing in every dorm window. I got into the Dead more when I was in college, so it wasn’t something I was into growing up. Anyway, I had some housemates who were way into the Dead. I went to the Foxboro Dylan/Dead show with them, but that was the only Grateful Dead show I ever went to. I had this group of friends and we started to go see Phish, in the early days. And so we saw them in the small clubs and we sort of got into following them in the Northeast. The first place was called The Living Room in Providence, Rhode Island, and it was like ’89. There were like 15 of us there. We went to the now famous Amy’s Farm show. You know, and it was just of course, we love to remember all that stuff now. Now when you try to see Phish in a small setting it’s like good luck.

My first serious band was in college, in Amherst, called Hoobis Doobis, and we were kind of like a Phish tribute—that was around 1990; but we also played Allman Brothers, Yes and ZZ Top, and a whole bunch of other stuff like that. We played a club in Worcester, and we mostly played college parties. I joined a few classic rock cover bands for a while. I was in a Beatles tribute for a while – learning that catalog and playing that music was really fun. I even had a Beatles replica Shea Stadium tan jacket with the nehru collar for that band! And then I ended up in Fennario, a MA Dead tribute band, by way of my partner who was already in that band. It was great because I really wanted to play more jam-oriented music. That was in 2010. Around that same time I also joined Don’t Let Go, a JGB tribute in MA. Both bands are still going, and I’m still playing with them. I learned a lot of the songs I didn’t know—I did learn a lot—I knew all the main Grateful Dead songs, but I didn’t know the catalog. I compare it to learning a foreign language—for example “Sailor”> “Saint” would be on the setlist, so I would study and figure it out before the next show. So I really have, within the last ten years, learned lots more on a show by show basis. It was a lot of work. But it’s so fun to play. 

I think it’s the improv, you know, that makes it so much fun. The chords are lovely. You know? And it’s just different every time you do it. So it’s just always for me—it’s like the search for the perfect solo, every time I play, it’s my chance to try to play a better solo than I did last time or something like that. You know? And it’s just—I love the idea of being in the moment with all the other musicians. It’s kind of like a meditation thing, almost. You know, I’m such a planner. I’m always thinking about the next thing or whatever it is. It’s the one time where I’m on stage where I just feel like I’m completely in the moment and with all these other people and we’re creating something from nothing and I just love that, the moment. It’s like art. You know you’re creating it as you go. I don’t know, you know, now that I’ve gotten to know the music so much better, it’s just, the songs are so great, really. I mean, obviously a lot of people think that! 

And then getting to play this stuff in an all-women group is the icing. I met Joni through a friend of a friend in about 2014, where they were looking for a keyboard player to come down and play with a band in Florida for a weekend. And Joni was in the band and, you know, we played a great weekend of shows. And then I kind of said, I can’t keep doing this, because I had just started my bookkeeping business. I was just not able to get away like that; but five years later Joni contacted me, I think by way of Denise actually, the drummer. She just reached out about the concept and I—they give me crap about it now haha, because I said I have to think about it. I’ll get back to you haha. It didn’t take long for me to decide though. And then we just had a whirlwind year and everything came to a screeching halt. Playing again is going to be such a joy.

Pandemic Update

I have a business, I do contract bookkeeping for clients—like QuickBooks. So I was at one of the sites of one of my clients in Boston and somebody on the staff said, you may want to take home all your immediate documents, because we might be telling people to stay home. Obviously, we read the news too, but this kind of just brought everything home and that was it; because the next week I didn’t go anywhere. I didn’t go anywhere for a year after that pretty much. Normally, I would leave the house three days a week and I think I did one trip to Boston in that whole year, so—yeah, it was crazy. 

My partner is also a musician. He got the idea that he wanted to play around with Pro Tools and kind of do something productive there with the time off. So we ended up making these pandemic shut down series videos at our house. We videotaped takes and then we synced up and mixed the audio afterwards and synced it up with the video and did multitrack recordings of just a duo, the two of us, and we released them every Sunday and it became a thing. And people are still talking to me about it. I love those videos. It was a great way to pass the time. So that was one thing that we did that was kind of made a positive out of a negative. I think we did thirteen of them. 

I did all the vocals on them, and they were all classic rock songs that I always wanted to play and things like that, and there were actually a couple Dead songs too. For example, we did “To Lay Me Down” with a whole bunch of different vocal tracks to do all the different harmonies. It was all me, but I added it in layer by layer. My next door neighbor came over and said, I can’t believe my neighbors play Rush! So he got into the videos too. And people were even like last week end somebody said something to me about those videos. 

And I’ll admit we did a bunch of home improvements, way more of those than we would normally have done. Our house is from the ‘60s. It’s like a ranch and, you know, it constantly needs something, so we did a lot of upgrades and rearranging and painting and stuff that we would never normally find time to do. 

And I stayed in touch with Brown Eyed Women. We messaged and we had a couple of tours that were taking shape. We were just being optimistic that maybe we could make them happen, but we had to cancel. We were looking at last fall and there was—and then that clearly was not going to work. Then we were looking at early spring and we actually had some dates on the books, but we ended up cancelling them, but we stayed in touch and did the best we could. It was crazy. It was a time warp. 

We finally got to play again this past June in New Jersey and it was incredibly fun. We were able to drive, most of us, and that was easier. We could bring all our gear, you know, in the cars and it just worked out well, and we had a good turnout too. And, you know, there were some COVID restrictions in place. So, yeah, playing was great. It had been a long time. Like rehearsal our sort of format, because we live so far apart part from each other, is to rehearse one day before our tour and that rehearsal was really just re-orienting ourselves with each other rather than getting super detailed. We just did another tour in the southeast that we just got back from a couple of weeks ago, and that was fun too. Plus we played my neck of the woods in October and Florida in November so it feels great to be back at it again!