Cheri Magill’s ‘Tour Guide’ Chronicles Day-to-Day Adventures in Motherhood

Cheri Magill and I have nothing in common.

That was my first impression when I encountered the songstress mama of three with the sunniest disposition and pretty retro dresses. Sure, we’re both breeders who write our own music. But I’m the blonde bad girl in a miniskirt — not the wholesome angel-in-a-coffeehouse with a voice that takes me back to Sarah McLachlan’s “Fumbling Towards Ecstasy” days. There’s no way her new album about moms is going to relate to my me, right? 

As it turns out, I couldn’t have been more wrong. 

Cheri Magill’s latest record “Tour Guide” — which she wrote to fill the void of songs about moms — is insanely on point. And while I’m a work-at-home mom with just two kids in tow who doesn’t go to church, this album resonates with my mother experience in so many unexpected ways. 

Literally every lyric on this album had me going “yes, yes!” My favorites included “Crazy” — I slave away to make a meal that you refuse to eat/When I put it all away you tell me you’re starving — and “Still,” which reminds me that even though I’m imperfect and say the worst things to my kids once in a while, I’m still human and my little ones love me. 

Cheri Magill_3_ photo credit Brianne Heiner

Cheri Magill (Photo credit: Brianne Heiner)

Lesson learned? Don’t judge a book by its cover (or a mom of three by her headshot). 

Rockmommy recently sat down to chat with Cheri about her new album, which drops May 4 — just in time for Mother’s Day. 

Rockmommy: You’ve been a musician all your life and a mom for 12 years! How did this album come about? 

Cheri Magill: Once I had my first baby I took him to a gig, but I didn’t feel like I could do a lot of performing and gigs when he was little, so I stopped doing music. I just pulled away for a while. It was kind of sad, and when I went to a concert it would make me a little sad that I’m not doing it anymore. But after I had my third child and she got a little older, I started having more windows of time. So when I started writing again, I wanted to write about motherhood — there are 50 billion songs about love, but there are so few songs about mothers and their kids.

Rockmommy: How old are they? Boys? Girls? 

Cheri Magill: I have two boys and a girl —10, 8, and 4. The no-diaper thing is incredible.


Rockmommy: How do you find the time to make music now? 

Cheri Magill: For a while I would try to squeeze things in, but really nothing was happening. So I really had to say, ‘OK I’m going to get a sitter for a couple of hours a week. This is a real thing and important to me and I’m going to do it.’

Rockmommy: But do you still play in your house? 

Cheri Magill: If the sitter is at my house, I’ll go to the library or go to our church even. 

Rockmommy: Can you tell me about your music time with your kids? Do you jam with them? 

Cheri Magill: I’m just starting to get into that. My kids — my sons — aren’t super into music — my second kind of is. But my daughter, she loves it. She’s always like, ‘mom, can you teach me some piano?’

Rockmommy: Any plans to tour with this album? 

Cheri Magill: I just did a big concert for everyone in my church and that was fun. I really love house concerts. I’d much rather play to 20 or 30 people in a home and talk more and share more personal things. 

Rockmommy: What’s your favorite track on this album? 

Cheri Magill: My favorite is probably ‘Tour Guide’ itself — I love the idea that I get to show my kids the world. When I get down about something, I think about how I get to show them what cookie dough tastes like, show them a place they’ve never been.

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the founder and editor of Rockmommy. 

Learning The Imperial March for my Little Sith Lord

One of the coolest things about being a mom is sharing parts of yourself with your kid. For me, that’s a love of writing, music, and running. I take my kids to the track, let them play my instruments and tell them stories I make up in my head every night.

Every year, I get to play a cool gig for my sons’ preschool. Now that Nathan’s in elementary, I only played one set for Logan’s school this year, but it was perhaps the most fun I’ve ever had.

I handed out shakers and kicked off my set with “The Wheels on the Bus,” followed by the theme song for “Paw Patrol.” But the best part had to be putting on a stormtrooper mask and rocking out to the “Imperial March” with Logan wearing his Darth Vadar mask and sitting right beside me.

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A true mommy & me moment, if I may say so myself .

I can’t take complete credit for this idea, however. I learned how to play this song from Andy at the Andy Guitar YouTube Channel. Rock on, Andy! And thanks for the great lesson.

MILF & DILF: Brooklyn’s Most Charming Rock-n-Roll Duo

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

One of the greatest things about love is that it spurs creativity. Brooklynite and personal trainer Sharissa Reichert and her artist/musician hubby G.F. Newland (“Gerry”) embody the idealized vision of having a band with your lover. Shortly after falling in love five years ago, the single parents of grown sons created MILF & DILF — a cabaret-punk-style/keys-washboard duo that dispatches tons of blunt but beautiful music that is as eclectic as the New York City borough in which they dwell.

band Milf and Dilf, musicians, Morbid Anatomy museum. Gowanus Brooklyn NY

MILF & DILF

We recently caught up with Sharissa (MILF) to find out what’s next for the band. Read on and feel inspired on Valentine’s Day — or any day, really:

Rockmommy: So. MILF & DILF’s been doing this cabaret mom-and-pop/antifolk thing for a while now. How would you describe the music you make with Gerry?

Sharissa Reichert: Screw Wave or Art by Misadventure. But, deep down our music really ’60s punk, because Gerry is into ’60s music and the Beatles and I am into punk. Some people compare us to the band Suicide, but that is way too flattering, although we may be as screwed up as those guys.

Rockmommy: Could you tell us about the songwriting process?

Sharissa Reichert: DILF is a brilliant songwriter. It is almost annoying that he writes a song about EVERYTHING. When we are at home I say to DILF (Gerry)  ‘Gee, honey I am glad you liked the dinner I made or the sex we just had — you wrote a song about it!” There are also many songs written about my butt. We both write the lyrics and come up with the song ideas, and I write a little bit of the music. “Rendalsham Forest,” our classic UFO hit, was created when I was just goofing off, banging on the washboard, and imitating Siouxie and singing about a famous UFO case. The rest of the song fell into place. “Charmless” was written when Gf and I had a big fight about an ex-boyfriend of mine being in town. We were so mad at each other in the Studio and wrote “Charmless” on the spot in 10 minutes. It was one of the Golden Moments in ROCK. The video of that songwriting moment is on our Facebook page. I wrote the song “VD” about Gf asking me to be in an exclusive relationship.

Rockmommy: What’s it like balancing a band with your partner, parenting your son and step son, and working as a personal trainer? What advice do you have? 

Sharissa Reichert: Only a sick mind would attempt such a feat LOL. I love my job — I am probably at the top of my field as a personal trainer for with a focus on seniors and special needs clients and recently expanded into selling exercises equipment online through a website called Plazah.

I have an online essential oils store though Young Living, and am sending out other trainers to clients and training an assistant.

Our Adult offspring live next door to us, they are roommates. Our kids and my son’s girlfriend are over all of the time. We have these big family dinners together where my son and I cook. It is very fun and cool to have the youngsters around.

Being a couple and in the band is fine, we each have a role. I do all of the promotion and booking and DILF does most of the songwriting and our fliers. Our very intense chemistry shows through on stage I think.

How do I get through this all? I am into Buddhist meditation with the SGI USA group. I got the advice from a Buddhist perspective to bring as much humanity as I can into everything I do. People ask how do I do it all, the answer is by Chanting and Buddhist meditation. You also need to take the time to refresh, take an occasional nap, get enough sleep, eat properly. I also have a wonderful Massage Therapist Lindai to help me with the physical stress of work. Being in good shape helps too. DILF is also my running partner. It’s kind of embarrassing though, because I am a professional exercise instructor but he kicks my ass at running!

Rockmommy: You and DILF married in October. Has anything changed, musically, as a result of going to the next level of commitment?

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Washboard player and singer Sharissa Reichert of MILF & DILF

Sharissa Reichert: There is really no difference now that we are married and the commitment and the officialness of us. We are getting older, I mean how many more people do you need to date at a certain point, I mean really? We have been together five years and we are such a good match.

Rockmommy: What are your plans for 2018? 

Sharissa Reichert: We are recording our first album “Live from the MILF-ferd Plaza” this year. I am hoping Dean Ripsler, who used to be in Karen Black and the Dictators, will produce us.

We are gigging at Arlene’s Grocery with wonderful YOU, ROCKMOMMY, on Sunday, May 6, 2018. Even Twice is also on the bill for that night. We want to expand to out of town gigs too.

— Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy

Why my Goals Are Better than Serious Rock-n-Roll Resolutions

by Marisa Torrieri

New Year’s Resolutions have become a bit of a cliche. Overly ambitious declarations destined to fail most of the time.

Still, I start every year thinking, “OK, this is it! This is the year I play guitar for an hour a day every single day no matter what. And if I don’t, then I’m lazy. Now GO!”

And then life happens. This week, two unexpected life events threw off my post-NYE ambitions:

1.) I cut my pinky finger while slicing vegetables for dinner, an event that led to lots of gushing blood, panicked cries of “Oh my God, Oh my God,” and a trip to my local urgent care center. By the end of the night, I was banned from washing my kids or doing anything that would get my now-surgically-glued-together pinky.

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The finger I sliced open on Jan. 2. Two hours later, it was surgically glued back together. Yay!

2.) The weather decided to move up its plans to deliver four inches a foot of snow and an obnoxious amount of post-apocalyptic winds to New England. This led to school cancellations, which forced me to cancel my highlights appointment (my biggest, and very occasional, indulgence), and start to fret about spending a whole day at home (did I mention I didn’t exercise Wednesday? Now I’m missing two days of exercise this week! UGH! I hate that!).

Then I look at the broader picture. I’m a mom and a wife, a skilled musician and freelance writer who gets regular gigs. I teach guitar, I tutor writers, I help my older son with his homework. I’m also an aunt and a granddaughter, a sister-in-law. I have more friends than I can count.

In 2017, I played five original shows (including one with Grandma’s Mini, my band in DC, plus three solo shows and one cover-band gig). I got an article published in Guitar World magazine. I posed for a zillion photos, looking like a 20-something. We expanded our house. My family’s health is good. I have so much to be grateful for.

By setting goals that are reasonable, not forced like resolutions, we can accomplish so many things. Better than that, we can accomplish these things without feeling bad, like we failed.

So today as I sit in my house, and the blizzard whirls around outside, I’d like to try to make 2018 the year of patience: I’d like to be more patient with my children, more patient with circumstances I can’t control (like the weather), more patient with my spouse, and more patient with my progress — not just as a person, but as a musician, writer, runner and traveler. I’d like to think that things we are putting off this year (like a trip to Disney World) will come later, so I needn’t be envious of my peers.

Perhaps I can channel my energy into gratitude, instead.

Marisa Torrieri is the editor and founder of Rockmommy.

5 Heavy Metal Artists I Wish would Make a Children’s Record

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

In 2016, I interviewed a ton of rock mamas who made children’s music — from big name rockers like Amy Lee of Evanescence and Priscilla Ahn to kid-music-genre mainstays like Laurie Berkner.

But I couldn’t help but wonder, as my kids and I jammed out to each of these ladies’ records, what would an Axl Rose children’s album sound like? Or one by Ozzy Osborne?

And so I arrive at this list: The five heavy metal artists whom I wish would make a children’s record:

1. Alice Cooper. The shock rocker and “Trash” talker in eyeliner (and dad) would definitely have my attention if he wrote an alternate version of “Poison” with lyrics that touched on the dangers of drinking tonics in the medicine cabinet (or breaking into Dad’s pillbox and downing his cholesterol medication).

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Rockmommy Lita Ford

2. Slash. The lead guitar virtuoso with the killer black hair would bring legions of toddlers to the Hair Metal Nation station if he recorded an electric-guitar version of “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and planted a face-melting spider-solo (whereupon his fingers crawled down the neck of the guitar) at the end of the song. No doubt his sons would be jamming out to this tune, too.

3. Lita Ford. The mother of metal (and two grown boys) shreds with the best of them, and sings with the best of them, too. Who wouldn’t love to hear “Kiss me Deadly” reimagined with PG-rated lyrics that 4-year-olds could enjoy? Let’s see … “I went to the play date last Saturday Night … didn’t get to play, got in a fight. Oh no! It ain’t no big thing!” 

4. Glenn Danzig. Deep down, Mr. D. is definitely a mama’s boy (I mean, c’mon, he has a song called “Mother,” right?). I’d love him to turn that “Mother” song into a kid-friendly version so 5th graders everywhere could sing, “mama? Do you wanna bang heads with me?” Or maybe he could try rewriting the lyrics to Lucifuge’s “Long way Back from Hell” so kids would hear his big voice atop a cool, dive-bomb guitar tune?

5. Sepultura. We need more gravelly death metal vocals in children’s music, because they pay homage to Cookie Monster. And they help children who aren’t aspiring to be Adele have more realistic goals (e.g., to sound like Cookie Monster). Brazilian heavy metal band Sepultura, who wrote one of my favorite records (Chaos A.D.) and has another tour coming up (how they’ve managed to survive with all those lineup changes is beyond me) is well positioned for this kind of project.

Did I miss any good ones? I’d love to hear any other ideas for a heavy metal children’s album, so please post in the comments and thoughts below.

— Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy.

Finding Gratitude in Playing Solo Shows When You Don’t Have Time for a Band

By necessity — for lack of time and resources — I’ve defaulted to the category of “solo” artist. And in November, I’ll bring my one-woman act (Marisa Mini) to two venues: Branded Saloon in Brooklyn, and The Lumberyard in Redding, CT.

In some ways, this is a blessing. It’s also the way I started, and the way many (if not most) of us start playing music. Flying solo, I have the ultimate flexibility in my set list: If I feel like playing an old tune from 2003, I can pay it. If I want to play the tune with a cool reverb effect, I don’t have to run this by anyone. Ultimately, it’s my decision to go with the reverb. Or with the flanger, etc.

I have complete creative control over wardrobe, too: I can’t tell a bassist to wear a sexy leotard (I wouldn’t do that anyway, but still!). If I’m feeling like a leotard, I’ll put one on. Or if I’m just in an Vans-and-jeans mood, that works, too.

Yet as thrilling as it is to play a set that I control, there’s something lonely about the prospect of playing a solo show. Especially because I know how wonderful and fun it is to collaborate with other musicians.

If I have more time by myself, I can get into a self-critical mode, second guessing my song choices or even whether or not I can hit notes in my head voice. Also, without the live sounding board of a band, I don’t know if the set arrangement I’ve considered represents the right choice.

The vibe of a solo show is different from the vibe of a full-band show — and this kind of sucks sometimes. I don’t want to be a “coffeehouse girl” — I want to be a full-fledged rock and roller! But the sole act of playing guitar all by myself, only accompanied by a microphone and an amp, screams “coffeehouse girl.”

There’s also something terrifying too. When you’re playing with a band, the entire team shares the blame when a mistake is made. Because if you sound shitty, it doesn’t matter if it’s because the guitar is out of tune or the drums are ill-timed with the bass.

When you’re solo, you are the one who is credited for your amazing pipes or clever lyrics. But you’re also the one who is frowned upon when you play the wrong note.

I can no longer blame “the drummer” if there isn’t a drummer to blame!

The bottom line is that I simply don’t have time for anything else but a solo show. I don’t have time to search high and low for musicians, or to even drive to a rehearsal space that’s more than 10 miles in from my home. I don’t have time to argue with bandmates about how a set should or shouldn’t be arranged. I only have time to finesse my guitar chops in the comfort of my own home, and to sing when no one is listening.

But I can promise you this: I play an engaging and sonically inspiring set at both my Brooklyn and Redding shows this month. I know this because I’m practicing my tail off, sneaking in guitar-fingering exercises ever hour or so, while my kids are in preschool.

So I hope to see some of you there!

Saturday, November 5

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Branded Saloon, Brooklyn, CT (with the Girls Rock & Girls Rule Crew)

Saturday, November 19,

8 p.m.

The Lumberyard, Redding, CT (with Catalina Shortwave, Fuzzqueen, and others)

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the founder and editor of Rockmommy.

‘I Started a Band with my Toddler’: The Nap Skippers’ Julie Rustad on Life and Gigging with a Wee One

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

Lots of musician parents dream of their offspring rocking the stage one day, perhaps after their kid finishes high school. But for drummer mom Julie Rustad and her guitarist husband Jon, their son Syver hadn’t even hit kindergarten before he started showing an interest in the big stage!

Today, the Tucson, Ariz.-based Rustads — Julie, Jon, and 5-year-old son Syver — rock out, family style, at all-ages events across the country with their band The Nap Skippers.

And for moms like me, who play guitar and sing, it’s pretty inspirational to watch.

Recently, mama Julie Rustad chatted with Rockmommy about what it’s like to start a band with your musically inclined toddler — from practicing to playing a gig in front of lots of other families and little ones. While creating a family band might not make sense for every rocker mom — especially if your child, like mine, hates performing — it’s pretty neat to see how the Rustads make it work.

(And if you want to listen while you read, check out their new single “I’m a Desert Dweller” on iTunes or Spotify). Or, check out our video page to catch a glimpse of the three-piece family band!

Rockmommy: How did you get started as a musician? 

Julie Rustad: When I lived in Philly I would play [drums] on cardboard boxes, and took one basic drumming class at Drexel. My first kit was a digital Yamaha kit because I lived in an apartment.

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The Nap Skippers with Syver Rustad on guitar and lead vocals, and Julie Rusted on drums. Photo credit: SpryTime (Tucson Festival of Books)

My first band started when I moved to Tucson about 13 years ago and it was an all-girl rock band. It got started because the band, a three-piece, they needed a drummer. We called it Sara Bellum. I was out one night, and mentioned I was a self-taught drummer, and this guy I knew mentioned the band, and said, ‘these girls I know are looking for a female drummer. You should hook up with them.’ When I got in the band, I got an acoustic kit.

Rockmommy: How did things change when you became a mom?

JR: My son will be six in September, so he’s over five and a half and he’s my only child. Before I had him, I was in a band called Mozart Sister, and the HypnoGogs with my husband, Jon, and up until 8 months pregnant I was playing shows. Once I had my son, I realized it’s really hard to have an adult band with your spouse — you’ve got to get a sitter, because you’re going to be out, and practice is really hard because of the baby. The family band came as a natural way to do music. So things really shifted from “rock and roll” to family friendly music.

Rockmommy: How did that make you feel? 

JR: It’s really fun because our son’s a natural, to see him thrive is really fun. As for me, I do miss rocking out and that kind of thing. So it’s a balance of feelings.

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The Rustads (with Jon on guitar and Syver on vocals) play Tucson Festival of Books. Photo by SpryTime

Rockmommy: How old was he when you got started? 

JR: He was 2 or 3. He’s the lead singer, and so … I think it was his second birthday we had a party at the Children’s Museum, and we said, ‘hey, let’s just play some music, some kids’ songs.’ Everyone loved it and that’s how our band was formed. If you go on napskippers.com, you’ll see live videos — he’s the lead and he sings all the songs, and plays different instruments — none obviously, he’s super proficient in — but he’ll strum guitar, or play harmonica. And the first song he wrote was when he was about 3 was called, “Cowboy Kitty.”

Rockmommy: How do you sit down and write a song with a three year old?

JR: I credit Jon, who would kind of sit with Syver, and make a tune while Syver would talk about the words, [like] about this cowboy kitty who’s riding a horse. Jon would come up with the melody and they would come up with it together. It’s almost like normal band practice when you’re writing music when you’re older and doing it too. He’s really humorous!

Rockmommy: Can you tell us about the name ‘Nap Skippers’?

JR: The funny part is he took naps up until the beginning of summer because he started camp, so he had been an awesome napper until he was five, so it’s kind of a joke. But the play on the name is that it sounds a little rebellious [like rock and roll].

Rockmommy: How often do you practice, and play gigs? 

JR: We practice maybe every two weeks. When we have a show, we’ll practice more. We play shows, and we’ve played for our county fairs. Why it took off is that there’s all these family-friendly venues that love having entertainment but family-friendly entertainment. Kids can relate to Syver because he’s a kid! And because he’s a kid, no two shows are ever the same. Sometimes he’ll come up with a weird joke, or do some new move.

Rockmommy: Does he have stage fright?

JR: He does not have any stage fright. We once played for 500 people in North Dakota. The more the better for him. That’s what I mean about him being a natural. I’d be such a shitty parent if I forced him to ‘do it’ or ‘go out there.’ But he loves it!

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The Nap Skippers. Photo credit: Trish Winter

Rockmommy: Don’t you have to have structure at shows? 

JR: He reads the order of the songs we play on paper. We’ve really kept the set kind of the same for a long time. He does like knowing the order of stuff, and we keep it pretty consistent, so if I try to switch the order he knows.

Practice is disjointed, but when there are people there, he feels like it’s a performance [and takes it seriously]. That’s what does it for him — having an audience. Once, when were going to audition for “America’s Got Talent,” one of the talent guys said, ‘send us a good video,’ so we kept recording us playing songs. But when I saw the videos I realized something was missing. Syver seemed kind of ‘blah’ so I asked one of his classmates and her family to come to our studio …  and that’s the video I ended up sending to “America’s Got Talent” — it was better when he had someone to play to. That’s what does it for him. He loves having an audience.

Rockmommy: Does he want to play any instruments?

JR: He says he wants to learn guitar. He’s five and a half, so now we think he’s ready to learn some of the chords.

Rockmommy: If someone wants to play music with their kids, what advice do you have? 

JR: Jon always has a guitar in the living room. I would say, definitely, keep your instruments out and allow for jamming and being spontaneous. Keep them accessible. And make it fun. Band practice is so random, it’s short and he’s all over the place. He’ll jump from the banjo to the ukulele — and Jon and I will hold down the guitar and drum parts — but, you know, he’s a kid. You’ve got to treat it loosely.

— Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the founder and editor of Rockmommy.