Annie Keating’s Brooklyn-to-Bristol County Journey Results in Gorgeous, Road Trip-Worthy Record

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

When the pandemic hit the NYC metro area, lots of families hunkered down, and a few lucky ones ventured out — transplanting from two-bedroom apartments and brownstones to more bucolic parts of the country to experience a new kind of “remote learning.” Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter, guitarist and indie Americana artist Annie Keating was one of the lucky ones. And in April 2020, she bid farewell to the city, and — along with her wife and kids — traded her beloved borough for Bristol County, Massachusetts, until the end of the summer.

Annie Keating (Photo Credit: Ehud Lazin)

What emerged from that challenging period was a fresh perspective and new material: Annie’s latest record, Bristol County Tides, is an emotional, 15-track journey, evoking nostalgia (“Hank’s Saloon”), grit (“Third Street”), and longing for change (“Marigold”) during uncertain times. Hands down, it’s the best record for road trips in summer ’21. 

“The creativity and connections born out of pandemic isolation combined with the beauty of the Bristol County tides and environs shaped and inspired these fifteen songs,” Annie tells Rockmommy. “Something deep in me woke up during this time. I think you can feel it in the songs.”

We recently caught up with Annie to talk about her latest batch of tunes, family life back in Brooklyn, and playing out. 

Rockmommy: Hi Annie! I love your record! Did all these songs come together during the pandemic? 

Annie Keating: Thank you and yes, all 15 songs were born April through October, most in Bristol County, Massachusetts. Only the last few (Goodbye, Shades of Blue and Lucky 13) were penned back in Brooklyn when we returned from 5 months away in late August, 2020.

Rockmommy: I’m particularly fond of “Hank’s Saloon” because it was place in Brooklyn, and I relate to trying to stay sober. 🙂 How did that song come about? 

Annie Keating: That’s a fun song and it was a pleasure to write. Yes, Hank’s Saloon was indeed a beloved dive bar in Brooklyn that I played various times. It had a great vibe. You walked in and didn’t want the night to end. Anyway, soon after arriving in Bristol County, Massachusetts, and making new friends, one of them shared an old country music playlist with me, featuring songs by Merle Haggard, Hank Williams Jr., Willie Nelson and other greats. The playlist had tons of songs I’d never heard that were just fun, good time old country tunes, and it made me want to try writing a song like that — a summertime song that’ll make you smile. 

Annie Keating’s song “Marigold” from her album Bristol County Tides.

So, I found myself starting with the lines, “I don’t want to stay sober, I don’t want to be good. I’m tired of being measured doing all that I should. If you want you can find me at hanks saloon, if you’d like to get happy today drinks start at noon.” 

From there it was easy to see where the song was going, “Like that summertime evening you don’t want to end, that’s the way I feel whenever we spend time trading stories, drinking cold beer in the hot sun – you make me feel like summer has just begun.” 

Rockmommy: So for this record, how was the PHYSICAL writing process different than that of previous albums, given what was going on in the world and your family’s relocation? 

Annie Keating: The physical process was different in that, although I always write from an emotional place, these songs were deeply rooted in an uncertain, transformative but also an inspired time. The creativity and connections born out of pandemic isolation combined with the beauty of the Bristol County tides and environs shaped and inspired these fifteen songs. Something deep in me woke up during this time. I think you can feel it in the songs. There’s a physical yearning, vulnerability, joy and sadness that comes through on this album more than any other I’ve written — like you can feel the emotional journey and identify with it through your own transformative experiences. My dog learned to swim, my boy learned to fish, and the city girl in me gave way to the country, captivated by the river and the tides high and low. I bought a boat and learned to navigate it through the channels where the fresh water meets the salty sea. I found unexpected kindness and connections in a time of isolation.

Annie Keating

Rockmommy: What about the emotional process? A lot of trauma was happening in the world in 2020, some that’s continuing into 2021! 

Annie Keating: I answered some of that in the last questions I guess but yes, like other artists, songs written during this complicated emotional time couldn’t help but reflect the pandemic experience. 

The song “Half Mast” for example, was one of the first songs I wrote in April and you can feel the collective shock and pain of the dark, early COVID days. We were all pretty much on lockdown and you can hear the sadness in the lyrics, “Time is moving slow, thoughts are racing fast nowhere to go, flag’s at half-mast. Monday brought the sun, Tuesday came the rain, Wednesday I just lost track of the days. World turned upside down, we go on just the same, as things fall apart, we carry on. Days they still start with the sun.”

There’s something about that idea of flags being stuck at Half Mast everywhere that felt just right for that time. We were all in our own kind of mourning and captivity in those early days of the pandemic. Writing these songs was part of the emotional process of navigating what was happening in the world. 

Rockmommy: How are things now? Have you returned to Brooklyn? What about your family? 

Annie Keating: Things are good. It feels good to be home and so great to see Brooklyn opening up, eating at my favorite restaurants again (I went to my first movie with my 18-year-old daughter, “Summer of Soul” [in June] and it was AMAZING!). I’m so grateful that my kids — ages 14 and 18 — are both doing well and resilient despite the deeply challenging last year. My daughter is going off to college soon, my son starting high school and I’m just so thankful that they’re both able to live life, be with their friends again and … experience all in-person joys! Remote learning was no fun. 

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the founder and editor of Rockmommy.


NYC Kindie Rocker Mom Esther Crow on ‘Being Green’ and Making Music ‘All Together Now’

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom 

Singer-songwriter Esther Crow had a solid legacy as the front woman of The Electric Mess — a fun, punk-rock-ish band — before becoming a mom, and playing on the NYC kindie rock circuit. 

Today, she still rocks hard — but with lyrics and themes that fans of all ages can appreciate. Her latest album, “All Together Now,” celebrates a variety of sounds and subjects, with environmentalism and social issues taking center stage. Her puppets, created by Jeff Lewoncyzk, also play a prominent role on the album, and weave comedy, and kindness, into some more serious topics.

Esther Crow (photo by Dan Crow)

We recently caught up with Esther to talk about making music, city life with mandolin-playing son Vincent, and more.

Rockmommy: Hey Esther! Musically, “It’s so easy being green” has a kinda acoustic Iggy Pop vibe, but the lyrics are catchy and easy to understand. How did that song come about?

Esther Crow: Wow, I don’t think I’ve gotten Iggy Pop [comparisons] for any of my kids material — only The Electric Mess (my “adult band”). So thanks! You know, I can’t really recall even writing the song, but I think it started with the title because it’s sort of a play on Kermit’s famous song (“It’s Not Easy Being Green”), but I reversed it. I knew I wanted to do a song about being more environmentally conscious, and a song that would be easy for the very young to digest with easy, everyday activities they could take part in.

I had already written a few songs about animals, but wanted to start writing songs with a focus on the climate crisis, and this was the first of that batch.

 

Rockmommy: There are so many great musicians in the NYC area, and the indie-music scene — and they all seem to know Lucy Kalantari or my friend REW! What do you love most about NYC family life? 

Esther Crow: Truthfully, 2020 really bonded a lot of us, even though it was mostly virtual bonding. I feel that I got to know so many kindie musicians across the globe via social media, and some Zoom meetings. A few weeks ago I went to a Juneteenth event in Harlem and got to meet a few in person for the first time. In terms of NYC musicians, it’s a wonderfully diverse mix of people and genres. 

I recently met Fyütch, a fantastic hip hop artist from Nashville who lives in the Bronx, Flor Bromley, a wonderful Peruvian-American performer who lives just outside the city, further North. And I finally met Joanie Leeds, who lives just across Central Park from me on the Upper East Side, at her great Brooklyn Botanic show in May.

I met Lucy Kalantari a while back at her wonderful Symphony Space show, which she did the winter before Covid struck. I took my son, Vincent, and we loved it. Falu Shah is another favorite. Could not love her music more, and love that she (and Lucy) include family in their live shows. I think it’s impactful for kids to see other kids performing.

Esther Crow (photo by Dan Crow)

[SEE RELATED: Fyütch’s Earth Day Rap Song ‘Pick it Up’ Celebrates Recycling, Reusing and ‘Zero-Waste’ Goals]

Rockmommy: For your latest record, did you consciously decide to write about nature and the environment, or did you write a few songs and notice you were on a roll?

Esther Crow: To be honest, I had written a few songs about animals a few years back, and then it finally dawned on me that I should write a few more and record an album. BUT… I wanted the next few songs to be more socially [and] environmentally conscious. So the first, as I mentioned, was “It’s so Easy Being Green.” And then I started doing research on animals that were environmental helpers/heroes, and it turns out that in addition to bees, which most people know are important helpers, bats and beavers were also crucial. That’s how “Bees, Beavers and Bats” came about.

I don’t think I consciously set out to write a jazz song, but it happened! I think it’s the one and only jazz song I’ve ever written — and certainly the most lyrically-packed song on the album. Which means it kind of needed a skat-type delivery. Well, I immediately thought of Lucy of course! And she could not have been more gracious or easy to work with. And that voice…THAT VOICE!! I feel very lucky. Next up: a Schoolhouse-Rock type video — with animation by Elena Fox — is comin’ down the pike!  

Rockmommy: How’s everything else going? Have you been playing out in the “new normal” music scene? 

Esther Crow: I played the Make Music New York Day — as you did — which was fun! We lucked out with a show 4 blocks from us. Vincent, my son, accompanied me on mandolin. It was great. 

He’ll also be playing with me — as will my husband, on bass — at our Pier 1 gig on Thursday, July 15th at 10 a.m. in Riverside Park at 70th Street. Excited for that one! 

Other than that: I’ve been playing a lot of virtual shows — mainly via the Brooklyn Public Library — and have a few more of those coming up.

Rockmommy: What’s your advice for balancing parenthood with everything else — including creative life?

Esther Crow: I think the best advice I have is to be honest with yourself and know when you need to turn down opportunities. I’m trying not to book anything in August, for example, as we’re taking a week in Maine (aaahhhh, vacation!). Parenting needs to come first — or close to first — whenever possible. It’s a hard juggle but I’m also grateful my son gets to perform with me, so we’re lucky we can spend time together, creatively. 

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the founder and editor of Rockmommy.

The POSSM’s Earl Henrichon on Parenthood, Music, and Riding the Next Wave of Creativity

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom 

It blows my mind that some musicians can just pick up an instrument in their late 20s or early 30s, and within a few years play close to the level of Jack Johnson. But that’s just one thing that makes singer-songwriter and guitarist Earl Henrichon so cool. The rockdad, who fronts Hartford, Conn.-based band The POSSM, picked up his signature instrument far past his adolescent years, but strums and sings like he was born to do just that.

And he’s not only a proficient guitarist but a damn good vocalist. Just listen to his gravelly tones on covers like The Pixies’ ‘Where is My Mind’ and originals like “Her” and you’ll agree.

Earl Henrichon and his family

Not that he has a lot of time to sing and play. In 2020, Earl, who’s also a high school PE teacher and surfer, wrote one of our favorite essays on balancing work, music, and life with his wife Jane and now 8-year-old daughter. 

We recently caught up with Earl to talk about his return to the stage, the upcoming HartBeat Music Festival on September 18, and parenting an 8-year-old in 2021. 

Rockmommy: Hey Earl! How’s it going in 2021? 

Earl Henrichon: It is going ok! I think our ‘new normal is going to be fewer shows than we were playing before the pandemic, and at the moment, only outdoors. We are all vaccinated and feel totally safe, but just decided to stick with the outdoor shows since those are so fun anyway. We are going to save more time for family, practicing and recording new songs, and try and appreciate each show and look forward to it, rather than pack the schedule and feel overwhelmed. We just started practicing in the last month or so, and are enjoying getting back together and hanging out and making music together again.

Rockmommy: Did you write a lot of new music between March 2020 and April 2021? How did the band stay connected?

Earl Henrichon: We actually didn’t write all that much original music during that time. Pretty much every member of the band contributes original music, and I think each member may have been creative during that time but not a lot of it was material for the band. I actually think that is pretty healthy, the band is its own thing, but having other outlets for creative energy I think lessens the opportunity for burnout. That isn’t to say we don’t have new material, because we do, and a lot of it we are really psyched about, but it isn’t the amount of material you would have assumed would come from that amount of time. But there was a Pandemic, so there was that…

Rockmommy: You and the lead guitarist are dads! What’s it like sharing your music with your respective daughters?

Earl Henrichon: Hell yeah we are, it is fricking awesome! Having another dad makes the vibe of it for me really great, a couple of old men like us care about things like getting the kids together to play (and it is awesome for them as well), and I think it is healthy for the younger guys in the band to hang out with the kids and get a family vibe. Our band is very much about community and family anyway, so this just makes it obvious about the things that are important to us. 

This summer our kids will be at any show that isn’t at night, and that will be awesome. We are playing Hike to the Mic on my daughter’s birthday, so it will be a party for the kids. Stuff like that makes playing music even more fun for me. [Lead guitarist] Craig and I can complain about bedtime stalling antics while the other guys have to pretend that even for one second that this is something they find interesting.

Earl Henrichon with his Hartford, Conn., band The POSSM

Rockmommy: What are you doing to stay balanced, between being a teacher, musician and co-founder of the HartBeat Festival?

Earl Henrichon: Well, to be clear I am not the lone founder of the HartBeat festival, our former bass player Tony Koos was integral about approaching Riverfront about working together on something and this is what was born from that. And working with Riverfront Recapture is amazing, they get behind most of our ideas about the community vibe of the festival. But balance and happiness is something I spend a lot of time thinking about. I teach health so it is on my mind quite a bit about how to best maximize my time so I can have energy and also get relaxing time in. 

I could talk about this topic a lot, since it is a passion of mine, but the short story is that I am at once a physical person who loves to be active and at times an introvert who needs to recharge my batteries with lots of time with my family and at home. So since I know that about myself, there are just things I don’t spend a lot of time doing, like going out and having drinks with friends on a regular basis. I prioritize things I love to do that make me feel good such as surfing, playing ultimate frisbee, disc golf, music etc… and will try to work in time with friends doing that stuff and then spend the rest of my time with my family so that I get that recharge time and feel that family connection that is important to me. 

I am also not a late-night guy. I want to be curled up on the couch with my wife watching Netflix and going to bed at a decent hour so I can feel good.

Rockmommy: What advice do you have to rockin’ dads out there who want to find the right balance between work, play, and family time?

Earl Henrichon: It is one of the large questions in many of our lives, and for musicians who have late-night schedules it can be even harder. My advice is not to play too many really late-night gigs. It is hard to say no to things, but the alternative is burnout and exhaustion. I think the idea of that sort of thing is sort of old school, I have found many people feel just like I do, and I try adjust many of our shows to be at reasonable hours, and I think that is part of why we were able to get people to come hang out with us, because we could get them in bed by 10:30 and they could still have a fun night.

I find exercise to be very therapeutic and stress relieving, but the days of hitting the weight room hard are sort of over for me, so finding other avenues to play and actually get out and run around are meaningful to my physical and mental health. I’ve gotten into chasing down frisbees with a group of people in Hartford at lunch time when I am on break, and it gives me an opportunity to get out and run at full speed, which doesn’t exist that much in adult life the way it does for kids. It makes me feel alive to get to compete a bit, break a sweat and get some sun. 

Earl Henrichon and his daughter, taken when she was younger.

I am not someone who will just go for a run, so finding times to actually play and get exercise at the same time are huge for me. I do Wim Hoff breathing in the morning before my shower and use the waking up app (meditation) when I am feeling stressed. I also have become a fan of mastering mobility stretches on YouTube so when I have a free 20 minutes, I can get my old man body some much needed stretching in.

I also try to use social media sparingly, I keep all notifications off on my phone so I can try to use it when I want as opposed to when my phone tells me to get my eyeballs on screen so someone can make advertising money. That is easier now for me, since the brand of our band is built a bit, I needed to spend more time when we were starting, so that is a balance as well.

I also try to give other bands and musicians love when I am online, and that tends to get returned when others feel like you are looking out for them. We maybe don’t have the following we could potentially have online as a result, but in the end is that really the most important thing? I try to stop and think a lot about what makes me happy, and then I just try to make sure that that thing is happening in my life enough to meet my needs. And if it isn’t, I think about how to adjust my schedule to make it happen. I know that sounds simplistic, but many of the best moments in my life are pretty simple and I want to make sure I get as many of them as I can. 

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and cofounder of Rockmommy

Fyütch’s Earth Day Rap Song ‘Pick it Up’ Celebrates Recycling, Reusing and ‘Zero-Waste’ Goals

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

Earth Day comes and goes every April, but rarely do I hear a song about the planet that gets stuck in my head, and lifts up my day. But after listening to Bronx, NYC family musician Fyütch’s new single ‘Pick it up (Earth Day Rap: Music Adventure for Kids!)’ that’s all changed. 

The song has a cool, catchy dance beat, as Fyütch launches into the rallying cry, “pick it up/put it back/switch it up/swap it out” while showcasing dance moves with his crew in Central Park, NYC.

Fyütch’s new song ‘Pick It Up’ (Earth Day Song)

We recently caught up with the dad (whose name sounds like the first syllable of “Future”), to talk about zero waste, landfills, recycling and making social changes. 

Rockmommy: So what inspired ‘Pick it Up’? 

Fyütch: Earth Day has taken new importance in my life as a teacher and a Dad. I live in NYC and unfortunately there’s a lot of littering here. My daughter noticed pretty early on people throwing trash on the ground, like gum wrappers and napkins. At only 2 years old she asked me why they did that! So that was one conversation starter. 

Next, this idea of refusing items we don’t need, finishing the food on our plate, turning off water when we brush our teeth are just basics. She loves to play at the playground, but sometimes I’m so tired I just turn on the iPad or TV for her. So I’m also challenging myself to be a good example to get up and be active. Most holidays and special days are reminders of things we should always be mindful of. I like to say everyday is Earth Day, because there’s always simple adjustments we can make to be more eco-friendly. My songs closely reflect my personal growth, hence the Earth Day song.

Rockmommy: In January, you released the track ‘Black Women in History.’ How did that come about? 

Fyütch: Very quickly actually! During the 2020 Holidays I was with my family. We were enjoying the response to the Kwanzaa song featuring Pierce Freelon. I knew I wanted to follow that up with a song for Black History month. It all started with a few lyrics in my phone notes: “Black women in history. Gotta say it loud so it’s not a mystery.” I started making the beat on my parents’ couch right after Christmas. 

I’m a fan of Rissi Palmer, so I emailed her and introduced myself. We spoke on the phone for the first time and hit it off. I pitched her the song idea and she loved it! I spoke to Snooknuk on the phone shortly after. I had just recently met her on a zoom call, and I really liked her music. So we kept in touch. I told her the idea and that Rissi was on board; and she was ecstatic! 

On New Year’s Day I finished the beat and the lyrics, and sent them a rough demo. They recorded their parts within days! Thankfully, we all have green screens at home, so they sent me their video footage and I edited it the weekend before we released it. Very quick collaboration process, but honestly it didn’t seem rushed because we were all so excited to release this into the world. 

[SEE RELATED: Pierce Freelon’s 2021 to-Do List: Music, Media, and Helping Others]

Rockmommy: What do you hope to accomplish through your art?

Fyütch: Educate, entertain, and empower. Normalize telling the truth in school. The songs I make about social justice and racial equity shouldn’t be ‘radical.’ History isn’t squeaky clean. And the present isn’t perfect. Sometimes these honest, transparent conversations are difficult for adults to have, for teachers and parents to have. But kids are usually just fine tackling these complicated issues at face value with curiosity and excitement. 

We don’t have all the answers all the time and it’s ok for them to know that. I can’t think of a better way to prepare them for a complicated world. Music and art in general are wonderful tools to teach and learn, especially at reaching different types of learners. In my family, there are a lot of teachers and pastors. I grew up with inspirational, community-minded people. So it’s just in my nature to want to inspire. I also think there’s something truly powerful about being a Black man in classrooms. I didn’t fully grasp it until my educator friends opened my eyes to it. There are kids from certain backgrounds whose entire impression of Black people comes from the media. So I’m very proud to represent and tell my truth, and hopefully open the door to different perspectives. 

[SEE RELATED: Bronx family musician Fyütch’s New Song ‘Black Women in History’ Celebrates Dozens of Unsung Heroes]

‘Pick it Up’ group shot (photo courtesy of Fyütch)

Rockmommy: What lessons do you hope to impart on the next generation?

Fyütch: Think for yourself. Do your own research. Ask lots of questions. Never settle. Dream big, set goals, and work hard for what you want. Work with each other to create the kind of world you want to live in. Empathy is key. 

Rockmommy: How has parenthood influenced or shaped your perspective as a creator?

Fyütch: My daughter is my life. I really had that proverbial switch turn on in my brain as soon as she was born 3 years ago. My hustle kicked into overdrive. Everything I do is for her. It’s all about legacy at this point. How does she see me? What are my non-verbal cues teaching her? Patience is a word that comes to mind. I can’t bury myself into my work. I have to find balance. Trust the flow of the day. Have a schedule but be ready to adapt. Be present. Appreciate the time we have together. These are great lessons for life. 

Not too long ago, she asked me why I was busy at the time. I jokingly told her “I’m working hard and trying to get rich so we can live wherever we want.” She said, “Daddy, we’re already rich.” Wow! The truth is we already have everything we need, and she knows that. Love, shelter, food, health. More money won’t equate to being a better Dad. So, I’m learning to trust the process and enjoy the journey. The same principles apply to my art. I don’t have to force creating. I’m in a great space where it just happens. And so far these genuine moments of creating have been striking a chord with my growing fan base and I’m super grateful.

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy.

Flor Bromley Keeps the ‘Fiesta’ Going in 2021 with New Music and an Earthy Vibe

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

Children’s music artist Flor Bromley loves blending so many genres of music that it’s hard to describe her sound. It’s jazzy, with a touch of island calypso, a dash of pop, and a folksy vibe. 

But we can all agree it’s pure, universal sonic happiness, even when the rest of the world is crumbling. Flashback to just one year ago, when, in the midst of the early months of the coronavirus pandemic, the Peruvian-born artist released her album Fiesta Global, and the catchy single ‘Fiesta de los Globos.’ It brought much-needed mirth to the long, drawn-out homeschooling days.

Flor Bromley (Photo by Carmen Stevens)

[RELATED: Bilingual Music Mama Flor Bromley Brings Virtual ‘Fiesta’ into Your Home]

“Musically, I want to share the Latino-American experience through my songs with a new generation,” Flor tells Rockmommy

So what’s next for 2021? We recently caught up with Flor to find out. 

Rockmommy: What were the biggest challenges you encountered in the last 12 months?

Flor Bromley: Finding a time to create and allow the process to “just be” has been challenging. I also teach music classes and do live concert shows virtually, and even though the tech aspect has been manageable, Internet connections are not the most reliable. I’ve had a couple of ‘live online’ shows that have been interrupted, and I had to scramble my things and go to my neighbors or do the streaming from my car. I will never forget what 2020 has made me do lol. 

Flor Bromley (photo by Sightseer Studio)

Rockmommy: How did 2020 influence your music and creative process? 

Flor Bromley: I dared to release an album in 2020. I’m really proud of what we were able to do with Fiesta Global, even in a pandemic year, thanks to Waldmania PR. The album was given great publicity and is on several “Best of 2020” lists by kindie bloggers/publications, and my virtual show “Fiesta with Flor” was mentioned on the grammy.com list of music shows to watch during quarantine. 

Rockmommy: Any recent or upcoming projects you’d like to share? 

Flor Bromley: I’m releasing my third family album in late Summer 2021. This one is a dual language album (English/Spanish) and will be called “Pachamama” which means Mother Earth in Quechua, the language of my ancestors. This album has a lot of Peruvian influences, in sound and themes. It’s a Peruvian music mash-up, where I bring elements from my culture and mix them up with Hip-Hop, Pop, Bachata, Country, Tango, and more. The theme of the album has to do with valuing nature and taking care of our planet. If there is anything this past year has shown us is that we have no planet B and we need to appreciate all of the little (and big things) Mother Nature gives us everyday.

Rockmommy: What advice do you have on balancing parenthood with creative life? 

Flor Bromley: Every day find a time for yourself to do something you really like by yourself. It could be listening to song in your car and singing while you go grocery shopping, eating a piece of chocolate by yourself without having to share with the littles, running, reading, watching a TV show.

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy

Tracy Bonham’s New Children’s Record, ‘Young Maestros Vol. 1’ Explores Music, Movement and More

by Marisa Torrieri 

Singer-songwriter Tracy Bonham gained international fame for her iconic ’90s rock song “Mother Mother” — the post-grunge-era anthem for so many young adults getting their first taste of the real world. Fast forward to 2021, and Bonham’s now a mother herself (of a 10-year-old son), navigating the daily struggle of work-life balance and channeling her expansive musical talent into new projects. 

Tracy Bonham (photo by Shervin Lainez)

This month, the singer-slash-guitarist-slash-violin player debuts her very first children’s album, with Melodeon Music House: Young Maestros Vol. 1, an energetic 11-song record for kids of all ages. It’s available now on all media platforms (iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, etc.), and CD. 

Bonham fans — including older millennials and Gen X’ers of all ages who fell for her soaring vocals and angst-ridden rock in the pre-aughts — will be delighted to share this set of super-fun, danceable songs that highlight musical concepts the whole family can appreciate. The first single, “Me Symphony,” is my favorite so far, with its fun animation, big band vibe, and rhymes that linger in the listener’s mind, hours later: “I lost my tuba in Aruba/I lost my piano in Indiana.” 

Tracy Bonham and Melodeon Music House ‘Me Symphony’

My kids love the joyful, silly ‘Let’s Take The Subway,’ which might be the only song I’ve heard that cheerfully name-drops the NYC C Train, B Train, and the elusive G train (which I’ve still never managed to catch). 

We recently caught up with Bonham to find out what’s next: 

Rockmommy: Hi Tracy! How did ‘Young Maestros’ record come about?

Tracy Bonham: Everyone was forced to stop during the pandemic. I don’t like being told what to do so I was pretty mad at the world. I would say F**k COVID to myself… often. During this time my bassist and collaborator, Rene, and I were figuring out how to create a business plan for my music education music curriculum and remote classes. I had been teaching my original curriculum at the Brooklyn Preschool of Science for a number of years, and little did I know it would become a laboratory for this new endeavor! 

In October, I had an incredibly uplifting conversation with my manager, Patrice Fehlen, where we decided that we would jump head-first into releasing an album of my music education songs.These songs had been laying around for years and thankfully they had already been recorded and mixed a few years prior with my dear friend and founder of Gowanus Music Club, Josh Margolis. Josh is a musician, a teacher, a business owner and another music enthusiast / music theory nerd. We recorded and mixed these songs over the course of six years knowing that someday it would become something really cool. However, my career as a singer-songwriter, and being a parent, would always kick the project to the back burner. Once Patrice and I put it out into the universe, that early October day, the whole thing started to take shape. Rene became my business partner and we started creating Melodeon Music House with the first album release, and accompanying music education program, called Young Maestros Vol. 1, slated for release on April 16, 2021.

Rockmommy: The video for ‘Me Symphony’ is so fun, and all the songs on this record are so great! Did you ever think you’d make a children’s album/family record in your pre-parenting days? Is it wild to think about that? 

Tracy Bonham: It is totally wild to think about. I have never been one to follow trends and I probably would balk if someone told me (pre-parenting) that I would follow the ranks of artists who make children’s albums after they become parents. When I started writing these songs, they were meant to be teaching tools.

Rockmommy: So my rock band Trashing Violet covers “Mother Mother.” It’s one of my favorites. Is it a blessing or a burden to have one iconic song because you have so much other great music?  

Tracy Bonham: I would rather have one iconic song than no iconic song! Thank you for saying that about my other songs, but if they didn’t have ‘Mother Mother’ as the beacon, they might not have reached so many people. That song was iconic because it touched a universal nerve. Pretty much everyone can relate to it in some way. I don’t think I nailed that kind of transparency and universality with any of my other songs. 

Rockmommy: What are you most hopeful for in 2021?

Tracy Bonham: I am really hopeful the vaccine will give people their lives back. I hope the people of the world can heal and rise out of this pandemic in a more thoughtful and mindful way. I especially hope that in 2021, the United States and all of its inhabitants, from whatever political affiliation, can heal in a psychic way. The patriarchal system is being challenged and I am so excited to experience the age of femininity taking shape. 

Rockmommy: What is your advice on balancing parenting and creative life?

Tracy Bonham: My advice to any creatives out there who are new to parenting — do not freak out thinking you will get writers block or lose your creativity. First of all, you have just done the most creative thing there is to do in the history of creation! You have created a family. 

For both men and women, your creativity is on fire! It is what you do with it from this day forward that matters. Whether it is creating a loving environment and an inspiring relationship for the child to thrive in, or whether it is taking care of your individual muse by creating loving boundaries for your art to cultivate on it’s own, these things you CAN do and will do if you believe you can. Of course, it is incredibly hard to find the time and energy when you are a parent of a young child. But what I found was that creativity FOUND me as long as I stayed open to it. 

I would be changing a diaper, singing to my son, and a new melody would come out of my mouth. Of course, I would be singing the word “diaper, diaper baby, diaper, diaper baby” but I was creating a future melody for a future song. I always kept my iPhone nearby so that I could hit record on the voice memo app and save the fleeting but inspired moment for when I had a half hour to myself (yes, that is possible) to go back and listen and create something out of it. I guess what I am saying is, please don’t think creativity goes out the window just because you have a new focus. Remain open to possibility. It may come in different forms. But creativity will always be available for you if you are available for it. 

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the founder and editor of Rockmommy. 

Cyndi Dawson of NYC Band The Cynz Talks Rock, Poetry and Supporting the Music Scene

The first time I listen to NYC band The Cynz, I’m in rock n’ roll heaven. Front woman Cyndi Dawson’s aggressive, low vocals soar over layers of delicious, distorted guitars, bass and drums. It’s fierce, it’s intense, and suddenly I’m fired up! Ready to go! Let’s do this.

Then I remember that we’re in a pandemic. And damn. It’ll be a while before I get to bathe in the manic fury of loud, live rock n’ roll in the city. None of us do. But hopefully, God willing, soon. 

Cyndi Dawson (photo by Alan Rand)

Until then, we can only dream. 

Recently, our friend and fellow rockmommy Rew Starr interviewed Ms. Dawson, on what’s next for the author of Outside Girl (Poets Wear Prada Press)— and what we can expect in the post-pandemic future. — MTB

Rew Starr: How’s it going? What have you been doing these days?

Cyndi Dawson: It’s been a tough year as you know. Trying to save a business, keep a band together — between no gigs and some personal stuff going on with various band members) has been a creative equation we are continually trying to resolve. We are writing new songs, recorded some early on and trying to help others with fundraising events. 

Rew Starr: I know you are the Queen of decorations, how long does it take to put them all up? Put them all away? What’s the next one?

Cyndi Dawson: It takes me a full week of working every day for hours to put it all up and probably the same to take it all down. That’s not even counting the outside decorations. I kind of am over it by New Years so basically I decorate September until January.  


Rew Starr: What are your kids up to these days? 

Cyndi Dawson: I have one human daughter, who is on her own already, a Yorkichon named Bowie and a litter of three once feral cats I took as a unit — two boys (Bob and Bree) and a girl (Puck, who was named Puck because I thought she was a boy. Now I call her MISS Puck!) 


Rew Starr: Your daughter is beyond gorgeous inside and out. What do you see of you and what do you see that’s all her?

Cyndi Dawson: She’s artsy and creative — more so than me — and she’s very musical. She plays several instruments which I could never figure out. My brain cannot comprehend notes and stringed things. I’m rhythmic so I’m a good dancer; I feel music in terms of beats. She is great at yoga which is way too slow for me. Her sense of humor reminds me of me but her sarcastic bent is my mother all the way. 

Rew Starr: I remember the first  time it hit me you looked exactly like [Barbara Eden of] I DREAM OF JEANNIE. How long have  you been hearing that?

Cyndi Dawson: Probably since I was 18! 


Rew Starr: I know gymnastics, dance, acting and poetry came first, so how did it all begin and what led you to being a ROCKSTAR?

Cyndi Dawson: My first band was when I was 17 — an all-girl band with great backing and management waiting for us. Great concept — Kamikaze Kitty and the Attack Kats and all the songs were based on mysticism and Kitty vibes. Unfortunately it didn’t last because of our key members moved back to the South. How I ended up a front woman SINGING is solely due to Henry. I’ve always fronted s band doing poetry. Henry said I should sing. I thought he was nuts. 


Rew Starr: We met when you came to ‘ReW & WhO?’ and it was all kizmit from the start, do you follow a spiritual path?

Cyndi Dawson: I do. Probably a mix of several things I’ve delved into over the years, probably more Wiccan-based than anything. 


Rew Starr: You also are a bar owner. That must be a giant challenge these days. How can people support your bar? 

Cyndi Dawson: Drinking in the bar supports the bar, there really is nothing more complicated to offer, lol! But that is complicated in Covid times. We’ve implemented all the safety mechanisms so it’s a matter of people’s comfort levels whether or not they feel safe in a bar or restaurant. We also built a beautiful beer garden with heaters, which is great when it’s not absurdly cold out. 

Rew Starr: Are you making any new music?

Cyndi Dawson: We recorded and released two new singles this summer which got great airplay. Pretty happy about that. We are also working on finishing other songs we recorded, recording more new ones we’ve started rehearsing and releasing a ‘best of with bonus new tracks’ to be distributed in Europe and the USA.  


Rew Starr: What about playing out? Have there been opportunities?

Cyndi Dawson: Early on [in the pandemic] I did the Thunder’s tribute for Steve Krebs at Bowery Electric but that was with Jesse Malin’s band. Then The Cynz did a fundraising gig for The Brighton Bar in Long Branch. Last week Henry and I did an acoustic set on Facebook Live for Outlaw Renegade Radio to help them out. Just trying to support radio and venues that support bands! 

Rew Starr: Tell us something we don’t know about you?

Cyndi Dawson: Oh boy! I’m such an open book online! As a poet I reveal a lot and I’m also a diarist. So I reveal so much. There is a reason I don’t reveal certain things but what I want people to know about me is pretty much out there. I’m a survivor — I also am easily hurt and I have a hard time with rejection or what I perceive to be rejection. I’m not as tough as I try to appear. 


Rew Starr: What’s the greatest part about being a rockmommy?

Cyndi Dawson: I think I instilled a love for music in my daughter. I also hope she gets that life in the arts doesn’t need to end because you aren’t in your twenties or you are a mom. 

[RELATED: https://rockmommy.com/2020/02/nyc-rockmommy-rew-starr-proves-its-never-too-late-to-take-on-a-brave-new-role/]

Rew Starr is an actor and musician who lives in New York City