Passing Strange’s Anthony Paolucci on Raising a Piano Prodigy, Songwriting, and His Band’s New Baby — ‘Afterthought’

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

Connecticut indie-rock duo Passing Strange’s latest record is called Afterthought, but the 12-song collection is anything but. The album, which came out in October, encompasses an expansive sonic realm — impressively executed by just one vocalist/keyboardist (Kate Mirabella) and one drummer (Anthony Paolucci) — and feels wilder and more playful at times than The Water and The Woods, the band’s early pandemic full-length, though equally emotive.

On Afterthought (NeuroTronix Records), every song — from the low-key, intimate “Library Voice” and the punchy “Killing Spree” to the jazzy/upbeat “Ballroom Floor” — is thoughtfully crafted, the byproduct of two percussively minded songwriters who are as in tune with each other as a pair of longtime best friends.

Passing Strange ‘Afterthought’

It’s clear that in late 2021, Mirabella and Paolucci have become more comfortable as songwriters and performers, having played together since 2017. As a result, their ability to craft clever, imaginative lyrics that resonate with each song’s musical mood is evident in every verse, hook, and live show. 

The album’s cheeky first single, “Karen In The Daytime” — which I originally assumed was a nod to the phenomenon of Karens in our post-2020 society — is actually a clever ode to the show ‘Californication,’ with Mirabella’s breathy voice soaring atop a cool, breezy melody. And I love the way she belts out, ‘I Wish I could be your Karen in the daytime’ with equal parts angsty conviction and joy. 

And while I’ve enjoyed every track I’ve heard from Afterthought, my favorite is the stunning “Ivory & Blue.” When I heard this delightfully melancholy song for the first time, it totally captivated me. The chord changes and vocal turns are so beautifully unexpected, carrying a fantastical storyline, that I just had to keep listening. 

For hours, I wracked my brain trying to come up with the right analogy to describe the way the song impacted me, and the best I can offer is this: It’s like going to a party and expecting plain, but pleasant, vanilla-frosted cake, and then being presented with tiramisu encrusted in sparkling, 14-karat gold.

And the surprises keep on coming: Just when I thought the “Ivory & Blue” had mellowed into a comfortable cadence, Paolucci’s drums make their entrance, ecstatically driving the song to toward its final destination.

Anthony Paolucci’s daughter Eden with one of her first instruments.

Needless to say, I wasn’t surprised when Paolucci told me that he was a dad to a gifted, 17-year-old piano-playing daughter! Clearly, the good music genes run in the family. We recently caught up with him to talk more about fatherhood, the record, and what’s next for 2022.

[SEE RELATED: Passing Strange Share Their Journey to ‘The Water and the Woods’ and What They Want Most in the Post-Pandemic World

Rockmommy: How is your latest record, Afterthought, different from 2020’s The Water and the Woods

Anthony Paolucci: It’s a little-known fact that The Water and the Woods is technically our FIRST album. The first version was hastily written and recorded in two months, back in 2017. We wrote the songs, believed they were ready, and recorded them when we were offered a chance to do so by a personal friend with a studio. How wrong we were. The songs were given no time to mature and develop over time from playing them live, and we were eventually disappointed in our decision to record them when we did.

Our next batch of songs became “Come Whatever Storms,” which we wrote and recorded a year after writing them and playing them live. After that, we began writing songs for what would be our third album. 

However, in 2019, we were signed to NeuroTronix Records, and we hadn’t finished writing the new album yet. So Rick [Demko] decided to re-record The Water and the Woods, an opportunity we leaped at. After its official re-release, the country went into lockdown and other than our album release show, we never had a chance to promote it live anywhere. So we went back to working on the third album. 

Half the album was already written, but the rest of it was written in quarantine — and, in our opinion, it shows. The nature and tone of these songs is deeply personal and very intimate. Whereas many of the songs on the other two albums are fictional stories, most of the ones on Afterthought are about us and a lot of our life experiences. So when all is said and done, this third album technically took three years to write before we recorded it. In the meantime, the songs that were finished we played live many times. So as far as we’re concerned, it’s our best and proudest effort so far.

Passing Strange’s Anthony Paolucci and daughter Eden at a KISS concert.

Rockmommy: How did you approach each track?

Anthony Paolucci: Each track was approached the same way we always write. Kate comes up with an idea or a series of parts and plays them for me. I “find the beat” in the song, and we ride out the groove, following the song wherever it takes us. Sometimes, in the end, it doesn’t sound anything like Kate originally intended, but it becomes a Passing Strange song, a creation that’s truly equal parts her and I. 

Since half the album was recorded in quarantine, however, many of these songs were quite finished when they finally came to me, and I didn’t want to deviate from their original arrangement or sound. My job was to add to their depth and give them a percussive layer, without taking anything away from the original idea: One example is “Coming Up Roses.” 

In the case of “Karen In The Daytime”, given the soft or subdued nature of many of our songs, I asked Kate to write a song, just for me, that I can rock out to on my drums. It took a while, but I couldn’t have been more pleased with the result, and I felt that I really got to flex my drumming arms on that one.

Rockmommy: What is the story behind the song ‘Karen In The Daytime’? 

Anthony Paolucci: This song was inspired by the show Californication and is written from the perspective of the character Mia — a young, unstable, extorting, mistress as she realizes she’ll never live up to the main character’s ex-wife Karen. Instead, she is stuck seeing him at night when he can get away, while Karen gets him in the daytime.

Rockmommy: What are your goals for 2022?

Anthony Paolucci: With three albums under our belt, our main goal at this point is to just play out. We’re finally crossing the border and playing a different state for the first time next year, but we’d like to play as many new places with as many new bands and artists as possible. So if you’re reading this, and you like what you hear, reach out to us! We want to share a stage with you.

Rockmommy: What are yours and Kate’s favorite tracks on the album (at the moment)? 

Anthony Paolucci: The first song completed for this album was “Library Voice,” and we both feel exactly the same way, in that this song best represents the essence of this album, and for that reason, is probably both our favorite song.

Rockmommy: How has your love of music rubbed off on your progeny? 

Anthony Paolucci: Before I had Eden, it was already decided that music would be a big part of her life. A part of her education, if you will, the importance of which would be as stressed as English or Math, whether she learned music at school or an outside teacher. When she was a toddler, we made certain she had musical toys, and there was always music playing somewhere in the apartment: classical, blues, music with substance. 

Eden never showed any interest in drums, but she liked the piano in the living room. When she was given an electric keyboard at five years old, she was already figuring out melodies from movies like “Spirited Away” and “Castle in the Sky.” At 6 years old, she took lessons from Pat Neznick, who used to play in the New Haven Symphony. Eden excelled quickly and she soon became a member of the piano guild — National level. 

What’s cool is she also has perfect pitch, so she can pretty much tell you the key of any sound — a duck’s quack, a leaf blower, it doesn’t matter. 

As far as where her and I connect musically, we had very similar taste in music for a while. We saw KISS together, H.I.M., Lindsay Sterling, and yes, the Wiggles. Her first concert was Yanni, and nowadays she mostly listens to the classic crooners, like Tony and Frank, and hip-hop. 

I ambush her playing sessions sometimes with a cajon and force her to play with me, but I know she hates it, so I’ve backed off for the most part. I told her you’ll never grow as a musician unless you play with other people, but she doesn’t want to hear it. Ah, well. I’m just happy that she still loves the piano and plays it every day. I even wrote a Young Adult novel about her and the piano called “Piano Lessons,” so she’s as much an inspiration to me artistically as I’d like to think I’ve been to her.

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the founder and editor of Rockmommy.

Courtney Seely, on Motherhood, Shifting Soundscapes and Creating ‘Future Self’

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

I already knew, having played a show with melodic Connecticut indie synth-rock trio Green Light, that their music is lyrically rich, sonically layered, and deeply cerebral. Yet I still made the amateur mistake of playing the song “Future Self” for the first time while running on a high school track.

Only a few seconds into the title track for the band’s current album, which came out in October, I felt compelled to slow down and listen. Green Light frontwoman Courtney Seely’s airy, emotive voice — which possesses a bit of a Stevie Nicks vibe — captured my attention and captivated me right from the start, as she launched into the song about the bittersweet process of moving forward.

Courtney Seely, playing with her band Green Light, at The Cellar in Hamden, Connecticut

But it wasn’t simply the poetic depth of the “formidable shift to a new destination” that drew me in. It was the way Courtney simultaneously expressed fear and self-assuredness in her vocal delivery, within a melodic, moody backdrop of keyboards and fuzzy, synthesized beats, which gathered momentum as the song moved toward the chorus: 

“Cause I can’t let go without control/

This rope just holds me down/

And I can’t break free

From this version of me

When this rope, it holds me down”

I’m a professional writer — yet it’s a struggle to find the right words that can encapsulate the emotional catharsis within the song’s 5 minutes and 19 seconds — so you’ll have to just trust me on this one. And while you’re on Spotify (or iTunes, Amazon Music, or whatever), be sure to listen to the band’s entire catalogue. That’s the only way you’ll be able to truly absorb the genius of Green Light, the only band I’ve ever met that’s formed by mental health professionals — Seely (vocals, piano), Bill Cox (keyboards, synthesizer), and drummer Dan Coca-Ducach.

The 11-track Future Self also offers an abundance of light, joyful, and even flirty songs, including my personal favorite, “Comin’ for Ya,” the perfect accompaniment for that jog I eventually resumed. Another track, “Fireflies,” is delicate and pretty and the kind of song I’d share with my hopeful 10-year-old self (or my future self, to be fair!). There are others, too, like the minimalist piano ballad “Unspoken” that highlight the trio’s versatility.

By the time I reached the end of the 11-track album, “Heavy Like the Sand,” I couldn’t help but wonder, how does Courtney balance real-world demands — the grueling hustle of indie-band life (for two bands!), marriage, motherhood, and a challenging career — yet come into every song sounding refreshed and poised to deliver?

We recently caught up with Courtney to ask about this and more.

Rockmommy: Hi Courtney! For those who are unfamiliar with your music, how would you describe your style? 

Courtney Seely: My musical style is primarily in the alternative, indie, pop, electro pop arenas. That is where my interests lie and my writing style is heavily influenced by that. As a bandmate I am really open to many genres, ideas, and styles. I love trying new things and hearing what others bring in based on their influences. 

I started playing piano at 5. I picked up the guitar — with the help of my dad — in high school and began writing songs almost immediately. I never did a ton of collaborating in high school so it was just me and a guitar or me and a piano but I began playing at the school talent show and things like that. I played some with a friend in college as well but after that put down music for a long time. Throughout that time my now husband, Tyler, was playing in a local band so I spent a fair amount of time at local shows with him. It wasn’t until around 2014, 2015 or so that I began to get back into it.

Green Light

Rockmommy: Who are your inspirations in the sound world? 

Courtney Seely: Aside from my friends and family in the music scene who probably inspire me most of all, I am inspired by Lorde, Chvrches, Death Cab for Cutie, Radiohead, Brandi Carlisle, Phoebe Bridgers, and recently got into the band Dizzy. 

Rockmommy: Let’s talk about that new Green Light record. The title track ‘Future Self’ is intense and unforgettable. Can you tell us about this song, and how it set the tone as the title track for the rest of the record? 

Courtney Seely: Yes — that’s the exact sentiment the song brings for us so I am glad that translates so well to the listener. This song is about the discomfort that comes from seeing things change in your life, and finding the courage to trust yourself. It set the tone for the record in that this album deals with a lot of change, ultimately resulting in this letting go of control and a need to trust yourself in the process. It was one of the earlier songs written for the record and we felt the meaning allows the listener to embark on a process of letting go and seeing where the ride takes you. 

Rockmommy: Do you come up with the lyrics, or collaborate with Bill and Dan? 

Courtney Seely: Bill and I primarily collaborate on the lyrics and music for our songs. We don’t have one consistent format. There have been songs he writes all of the lyrics for, and vice versa. With music it’s similar. I’d say one of the most unique things on this record was that many of the songs that I wrote lyrics for (“Comin’ For Ya”, “Heads”, “Move You”, “Unspoken”) started with a melody and lyrics that I shared with Bill (without music) and he took those and added what he felt fit nicely on piano and they grew from there!

Rockmommy: How is this album an extension of — or different than — some of your past recordings?

Courtney Seely: I think it is definitely both. It’s different from The Days in that Future Self took a lot longer as we really wanted to spend time crafting and shaping these songs. Some were older songs we reworked to include with this collection, and many new. The Days was written very quickly, comparatively — within a couple of months — and was all created within that timeframe, mostly remotely! I’d record my parts at home and send to Bill and he’d magically put it all together. With Future Self we were happy to be able to get back together and record in person — it’s a completely different experience.

Rockmommy: I recall you and your Green Light bandmates telling me about you are all mental health professionals. Is this how you met?  

Courtney Seely: Yes! Bill and I are both therapists and Dan works with folks who have neurodevelopmental disabilities. We all met along the path of our careers — Dan and Bill first at a previous job, and Bill and I later at our job at a mental health agency.

Rockmommy: What influence does your work in the mental health world have on the music you create with Green Light? 

Courtney Seely: I think it has a large influence. We are a reflective bunch, always thinking about how we impact our world, how things impact us, so all of that reflection in our personal lives and in our work lives lead to a lot of great content for songs! It’s also such a needed outlet for us all. We all work hard and play hard — so this band is a great way for us to move through the stuckness of whatever is happening around us.

Rockmommy: I noticed you and embarked on another musical endeavor, The Sparkle and Fade (with husband Tyler, sister Lindsey Callahan and brother-in-law is Jeff Callahan). How did that band blossom? Are you recording soon?

Courtney Seely: Yes! This group formed about a year ago during the pandemic. My husband started writing some of his own songs and asked me and my sister and brother-in-law to join him in the process. We actually completed our album during that time, called “Find A Way” and released it in June 2021. I primarily wrote lyrics on that album and played some keys and synth. 

What started as just an album project turned into a whole group! In November 2020 we brought on a bass player, TJ Chalfant, and drummer, Joe Onofrio and we’ve played 3 shows so far.

Courtney Seely and her son.

Rockmommy: How do you balance a full-time career with music and motherhood? What have you had to let go of, or adjust to, to make it work? 

Courtney Seely: My son is now 8 ½ which is wild to think about! The balance is…hard. As I said in other places, the music outlet is almost essential to me in terms of keeping my sanity, so I work hard to make that happen! I have a weekly practice with Green Light where we get to work on new material, rehearse for shows, or just jam. The beautiful thing about playing around here is there are a bunch of places that my son can join in the fun. He often comes to see us at local farmers’ markets, outdoor venues, and it’s pretty much infused in his being now! 

I don’t think he remembers a time when I wasn’t playing in a band, so it’s just a part of our lives now, which is really nice.

All of that said, it means giving up some time — like weekend nights when we have gigs. We are lucky to have our parents close by so Griffin loves spending time with them and they are a huge support without which I don’t know this would work.  

I’m also fortunate to have a flexible job which makes it possible for me to join in the mom things at school and to be home with him in the mornings and evenings. Our families are very supportive as well — and mine even all play in a cover band together, Almost the Whole Damn Family. So they all understand!  

Rockmommy: Is it frustrating or hard at all being a woman with responsibilities, fully adulting, trying to create a fanbase and make music? I think it is! Just wondering if you can relate?

Courtney Seely: Yes! I agree! As a career woman, a mother, and musician, I always carry guilt! It’s hard to let go of that and not want to be everywhere and doing everything all at once or to feel the pressure that I should be doing that. 

I think women have a ton of pressure to be everything for their families, at work, and in their social lives. I’m a huge proponent of rest and making things manageable. As a group, I think we do a great job of not overbooking ourselves and respecting our personal schedules so that there is never a feeling of the group being burdensome. I also have a very supportive family who are essential in helping me get it all done.

Rockmommy: When can people see you play out live? (Tell us about your ‘future self’ gigs!)

Courtney Seely: Our future selves in Green Light will be playing on 12/10/21 at the Cellar with Private Language and Audio Jane! We actually collaborated with Ryan Sindler from Private Language on “Face the Sun,” a track on our album “The Days” so there could be some special treats at this show. You won’t want to miss this one…if you haven’t seen these other amazing bands you should come out! 

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy.

Patti Rothberg Comes Clean About Love, Art, Life Beyond ‘The 1 and the 9’ And Those ‘Alanis’ Comparisons

Intro by Marisa Torrieri Bloom; interview by Rew Starr

I don’t remember the moment I first heard singer-songwriter Patti Rothberg’s breakout hit “Inside” in the mid 90s, but I do remember watching Patti’s videos on MTV. 

She was a dead ringer for Beatlejuice-era Winona Ryder with the vibe of Courtney Love in “Doll Parts.” A woman hard to define — not quite a folkie, and definitely not Alanis — but hard to forget. And “Inside” encapsulated everything I was feeling in its first few verses: 

I haven't done a thing today … I’m just sittin' around, wastin' time away
... …. Think I'll write a letter home … tellin’ everybody that I'm happy alone … 

The tune embedded itself into my brain for decades, although my hands-down favorite on her debut major-label record Between the 1 and the 9 is the gritty ‘Treat me like Dirt.’ 

In fact, when I was invited to “open” for Patti on my friend Rew Starr’s live Internet show, ‘Rew & Who?’ in 2016, I considered asking Patti to belt it out for me in the kitschy, tiki-themed bathroom of Otto’s Shrunken Head. But I bailed at the last minute, choosing instead to introduce myself and listen to her newer material, which didn’t disappoint. 

Five years later, Patti’s still putting out eclectic musical works (with the best and most clever lyrics!) and cool art. And last year, I was lucky enough to catch one of her 2020 Facebook Live shows where, to my delight, she closed with “Treat me Like Dirt.”

Patti Rothberg

Today, the stories Patti tells, and the memories she shares, paint a glorious picture of Manhattan’s anti-folk and indie-art scene in the late ’90s and early ’00s. 

Rockmommy correspondent Rew Starr recently sat down to catch up with her, and chat about what’s next for this Renaissance woman. 

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

Patti Rothberg: My way of life has always echoed one of my better known lyrics from the song “Inside”: I could roll myself on down the line.” I operate on intuition and have barely made plans. It’s more like I’m wondering around an arcade looking at the pretty lights and wasting my quarters trying to figure out the games. 

Rew Starr: For those who don’t know, can you give us a bit of your story? 

Patti Rothberg: 1994 was one of the wildest times of my life! I lived on 23rd Street next to the Chelsea Hotel. A LOT of changes. It was my last year at Parsons School of design, and my major was Illustration. I had NO plan, just figured one thing would lead to another.

My friends were all street people: A slide player with white hair who claimed to be from Paul Butterfield’s band…”Andy” I think, Shah who would bum cigarettes, perched outside my apt. (I found out he was an ex con who killed someone and was out on parole) but to me he was my friend…I would flit around and hang out with homeless people and street characters all the time… my old guitarist then, Lukasz, lived a few blocks downtown…when he said, “I just hung out with Kid Rock. I need a name what do you think of “Dr. Luke”!!!!? 

I was meeting so many people that year and I invented an excuse to paint portraits which I liked to paint best: A book called “Math 4 Artists the Wonder of Genetics.” I went to Sidewalk Cafe (RIP) and waltzed right up to Lach (now famous for starting and running “Antifolk” for years) and showed him my portraits (manic much?) Asked him for a show. He gave it to me. 1994. My commute back and forth from Parsons was between the 1 and 9, F and L tunnel on 14th Street and 7th Ave (which was later shortened to “Between the One and the Nine. I incorporated many concepts…the artwork on the album is like a rubik’s cube with one oil painting in the middle and 8 surrounding making a 1 and 9.

Rew Starr: You got married in 2020. So was your husband a fan of your music?

Patti Rothberg: Another amazing story…… 25 years ago, RIGHT after my record came out, Micah was working as the assistant manager of a RECORD STORE, Sam Goody. He wasn’t even supposed to come in at all that day. A rep for EMI came in with my promo and asked if he would play my record ‘Between 1&9’….We’re pushing this girl.’ He asked ‘what does she sound like?’ and the rep dutifully replied ‘Alanis.’ Miraculously, he put on my CD in the store anyway…

Patti Rothberg

Track after track, he says he was waiting for it to sound like Alanis and it never did. He ended up liking the CD, and even selling 40 or so copies! The rep returned 4 days later to follow up… ‘I listened to Patti Rothberg…Micah said. ‘She’s pretty good!’ And he said, ‘Well she’s playing tonight, we have free tickets! Long story short, he asked his friend, Monique to accompany him to my show, and by his recount, judging from my underlit cover painting, he was expecting a “less than attractive troubadour”!!!!!! HAHAHAH. 

Micah was bored facing the other way from where I entered, and someone exclaimed, “There’s Patti.” He turned around, and confused said, ‘Where? Behind the hot chick (meaning ME!!!)? Micah ditched his date for who was to become his queen and bride.

Rew Starr: Did you always believe this would happen? 

Patti Rothberg: One of my earliest memories is walking in my plaid pants on my front lawn age 3 singing to myself. I wanted to be Olivia Newton John. I also wanted to be a muse…when you’re a kid, you’re not sure what goes into what you think you want to do or be. You don’t know the behind the scenes at all. So I pretty much decided I was a muse after seeing Xanadu!!! By my own definition (Inspiring myself by inspiring others…) I have actually done it quite a bit!

Rew Starr: What was being on a world tour like? 

Patti Rothberg: The day I chose EMI and Brian Koppelman in the bidding war between them and Sony, my manager sent me flowers with a note that said, “You did it, you deserve it, your manager for life…Alicia”. I remember all these conflicting emotions. I knew I wouldn’t be able to take my tall, androgynous metalhead rock boyfriend ‘Morgan’ with me on the tour bus, and we had a pretty good thing going. He was a poet, a gentle soul, and he loved drinking wine. But I had a mission to “Rock the world”. The band members that stuck for the tour I picked after just one or a few songs! Adrian Harpham just HAPPENED to go first. 

We jammed, and he knew every nuance of every song I liked to sing. Pretenders, Pat Benetar, classic rock. He was PERFECT. That decision was made in seconds. Same thing with James Elliott (Jamez Jimmy Riot). We auditioned a few bass players and any of them COULD HAVE played the parts I had written and then some (I’m playing all the instruments with a few exceptions on the album with Adrian!). James played ‘Looking For a Girl.’ He just seemed to get my “vibe”. That was enough and we hired him instantly. 

Rew Starr: What were the highlights?  

Patti Rothberg: It was pretty cool having every INCREDIBLE guitar player literally lined up to audition to play MY guitar parts that I wrote off the cuff on the album! I bought my guitar from one of the guys who auditioned. Let’s just say we had a ‘sleepover.’ He was probably in his early 30s at the time… All I really wanted was to be on the real NYC rock scene. The whole story is told in my video ‘Nightstand.’

Rew Starr: Do you have a favorite band you toured with? 

Patti Rothberg: Chris Isaak was the nicest, best tour. What a sweeet talented guy! I mean Garbage!!!!  

Rew Starr: ’Inside’ changed your life. Did you ever think that would be the song? 

Patti Rothberg: I wanted “This One’s Mine” to be the single. For one thing it showed off my electric guitar. I was Courtney Love or Joan Jett, Dale Bozzio or Pat Benetar, I was terrified to be lumped in with the Alanis clones. Believe it or not I sang to Janis Joplin with the windows rolled up when i was 16. I wanted to be Jim Morrison and/or Exene Cervenka… not Joan Baez. Now I think the closer to myself I can get the better off I am, if that makes sense. Just to be true, and DIP into my heroes. After 4 years of “Being” Joey Ramone in Rockaway Bitch……I know the difference. That was such a great experience. I was like studying for an acting role. My songs reveal me every single time. *blush* WHETHER I LIKE IT OR NOT.

Rew Starr: ’Treat Me like Dirt’ seems to be a real pleaser… are your songs autobiographical? Do you have a favorite?

Patti Rothberg: My favorite song at the moment is inspired by David Gates and Bread. I just like it because it’s really TRUE and pretty and it’s on the ONE “download only” album I have,”Ephemeral.” It’s called “Where Were You?” And it’s just perfect. It says exactly what I was trying to say — the best songs do. They practically write themselves. It’s like you enter another state of consciousness. That particular song is so universal too….It says ‘Hey, what relationship were YOU in!?”….

Rew Starr: I know you also illustrate, write books, dress like a rock star and are totally awesome! Can you elaborate on these other passions and were any of these before the music or were they all together? 

Patti Rothberg: My mother was in the media and brought home really cool records for me to roller disco to at a very early age. I also had really cool babysitters who introduced me to things like The Rolling Stones …In 3rd grade we were supposed to put name tags on our desks. I wrote “Olivia Newton John.” I got laughed at A LOT. Some of my friends might remember in 7th grade I spelled my name “Paouxti’ in honor of Siouxsie. No one could pronounce it. Got laughed at. I found the tiny smattering of punk rock/skater types in my school and started dressing as “goth” as I knew how.. .going to places like “Le Chateau” and buying full-length robes/ black eyeliner. 

Kids would count to three as I walked down the hall and yell “WEAR WHITE”. We’re talking about Scarsdale High School. Home of the perfect smiles quarterbacks and cheerleaders. I saw the movie “Rock n Roll High School” and immediately gravitated to Joey Ramone. I painted skulls on my nails. I saw Rocky Horror Picture Show at 13, I went in to “the city” any chance I could and went to Manic Panic (today any CVS sells weird hair colors). I’m proud to say I had green and red hair by age 14……The soundtrack to the movie Times Square got me started with good music. I taught at School of Rock from Jimi Hendrix’s birthday to the first day of quarantine at Covid. That was the PERFECT job for me. I have ONE student left now because of having to do it remotely, but she’s really gonna be a star. I loved The Runaways, I loved Ottos, I loved Rew and Who and I’m so proud to have done the show w/ Alan Merrill, Mr. Rock n Roll. R.I.P. I miss u Rew! Also, I hope they bring back old school MTV!

[SEE RELATED: Laura Merrill on Art, Life and the Legacy of her Rock n’ Roll Dad Alan Merrill]

Rew Starr: Your mom played a role encouraging you right? What and how did she? 

Patti Rothberg: She’s a poet. Micah is too. They’re clever and FAST with the rhymes! 

My mom was on WYNY radio after Dr Ruth Westheimer!

Rew Starr: I love how you twist words, when did this start? Ever think of making a Patti dictionary?

Patti Rothberg: I Already started! It’s more like an encyclopedia…Extra Awesome. There are 2 so far…and counting.

Rew Starr: When people yell out to play a song is there anything you can’t play? I mean I even saw you do ‘Freebird’ when it was yelled at you!

Patti Rothberg: I say give the people what they want (especially if they don’t think I can). Surprise em! I’m a good faker.

Rew Starr: Are you making any new music?

Patti Rothberg: Yes! Dan Dubelman and I have formed “The Jersey Beatles” and done tons of covers and originals during Covid, going back and forth in Logic.

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

Patti Rothberg: I love nice hotels with a pool, a jacuzzi, a very puffy white comforter. Thank you Rew, I’m sure if I did this again there’d be some differences! c’est la vie!

Rew Starr is a musician, actor, and mother who lives in New York City.

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the founder and editor of Rockmommy.


Girls Girls Girls’ Nikita Seis and Tawny Lee on Reviving the ‘Crüe,’ Partying with Tommy Lee (and MGK), and Gigging in 2021

NYC-based Mötley Crüe tribute band Girls Girls Girls plays such a high-energy, awe-inspiring live show that phone calls and email requests to play private events are pretty much the norm (as are fangirls like me).

So when the band received a random email in late 2018 about playing a private party in Los Angeles, GGG bassist Nikita Seis was hesitant to celebrate. It just seemed like another fan request.

Girls Girls Girls, NYC’s Mötley Crüe tribute band, partying with Tommy Lee in 2019.

I just got the typical email that I always got about possibly ‘playing a private party in LA in March,’” Nikita tells Rockmommy. “I was on my way to see The Struts with a friend and told her about the email, and how nine times out of ten those are just some random person asking us to play their party and they never pan out.” 

But her mindset changed a few hours later as she pulled in to the driveway of the suburban Nashville home she shares with her husband and kids, and the host of SiriusXM’s Hair Nation confirmed the date for the release of Mötley Crüe’s biopic The Dirt, for March 22nd.

“At that point I realized there was a chance the two could have something to do with each other, and the next day, when I spoke to the woman in charge, it was confirmed,” Nikita tells Rockmommy. “She told me the filmmakers wanted us and it was contingent on all four members of Mötley Crüe signing off on us.”

After dusting off their instruments and scrambling over the next six weeks to bring on a new singer, rehearse like crazy, and try to stay sane while balancing job responsibilities and parenting, the band pulled off a visually and musically epic rock set at LA’s legendary club Whisky a Go Go — to the delight of an audience that included none other than Tommy Lee and Machine Gun Kelly (who plays Lee in the movie), front and center.

Girls Girls Girls rocking out. (Photo: Drew Osborne)

It’s a moment and a memory bassist and rock-n-roll mom continues to savor, especially now, as the excitement around live music’s return is being tempered by the delta variant, and the summer 2021 window for worry-free gigging is starting to close.

But she — and the rest of her Crüe-playing bandmates, including lead singer Trixxx Neill, guitarist Denise Mercedes Mars and the drummer better known to GGG fans as Tawny Lee — remain hopeful, even in the midst of uncertainty.

We recently caught up with Nikita and Tawny to talk about the tribute band’s 15-year legacy, and how they balance rock aspirations with work pressures, motherhood (Nikita’s kids are 11 and 9), and life on life’s terms. 

Rockmommy: I’m so psyched to interview Girls Girls Girls! What’s the coolest thing you’ve done in the last two years?

Nikita Seis: This is probably obvious, but getting to play the afterparty for the ‘Dirt’ premiere at the Whisky [in Los Angeles] was probably the coolest thing we’ve done in the last 15 years!

The show itself was very surreal, playing ‘Kickstart my Heart’ and then watching Tommy Lee and Machine Gun Kelly walk down the stairs and come over to the side of the stage and start rocking out. I felt like the whole thing happened in slow motion and I’m not sure how I even hit the right notes. It was like I was just sort of out of my body, because I did spot them when they started coming down the stairs.

That’s the side of the stage I usually play on, and we’ve had several fans over the years tell us we’re “wrong” because our Nikki [Sixx] and Mick [Mars] are reversed, but we decided to switch for that show. If we hadn’t, I’d have been right next to Tommy. Denise [our guitarist], as always, was so engrossed in her playing she didn’t even notice him! 

Tawny: OK, obviously playing at the Whisky afterparty with Tommy Lee air-drumming up front was the coolest thing we did in the last two years/ever. The second-coolest thing, on a personal note, was playing Toronto in January 2020. 

My sister, GGG backup singer Hurricane Yoshi, had just moved to settle in Toronto the month before, after over 10 years of living in NYC, so being able to perform with her in her new hometown was pretty sweet and helped dull the pain of the slap in the face that is losing your sister to Canada (or any other country, to be clear).

Rockmommy: How did the Motley Crüe movie experience come about, when you went to LA?

Nikita: I’m not sure how they found us, but I just got the typical email that I always got about possibly ‘playing a private party in LA in March.’ I was on my way to see the band The Struts with a friend and told her about the email, and how nine times out of ten those are just some random person asking us to play their party and they never pan out. 

But when I got home from the concert and pulled in to my driveway, I heard on SiriusXM’s Hair Nation ‘Mötley Crüe has announced ‘The Dirt’ will finally be released on March 22nd.’ 

At that point I realized there was a chance the two could have something to do with each other, and the next day, when I spoke to the woman in charge, it was confirmed. She told me the filmmakers wanted us and it was contingent on all four members of Mötley Crüe signing off on us. This was right before Christmas, so she said we might not have an answer immediately.

This was okay for us because we hadn’t played in three years at that point and didn’t really have a permanent singer, so it bought us some time to find one. We auditioned Trixxx Neil and one other girl via video. The show confirmed right around February 1st and we had about six weeks to prepare for the show of our lives, with a singer we’d never performed with and with a band member (me) living in a different state. To have pulled it all off felt like a huge achievement!

Rockmommy: What was the last gig you did in the “before times” in early 2020? 

Nikita: We were so fortunate to have played a couple of gigs in Canada in January/February 2020. COVID was just hitting the news, and we had to answer some questions on whether we’d traveled to China recently while going through customs. I remember seeing that a few cases had been reported in Atlanta, and I was flying through there, but it still felt like it was just hype. We got to play a club in Toronto and a casino in Regina, Saskatchewan.

Rockmommy: When the pandemic happened, what did you do? So many people played acoustic shows on FB Live, but that’s hard to do with a full band! 

Nikita: I never really felt a need to put GGG out there during the lockdown. We’re best as a live band, with the makeup and the outfits and the energy of the crowd. Personally, my bass stayed in its case from when we got back from Canada until we booked our most recent show that we just played. 

Tawny: On account of unfortunate timing, I moved to a new apartment during the height of the NYC pandemic, and I’ll admit I went into full lockdown mode and put my drums into various storage spaces — under the bed, on closet shelves, in ceiling storage, down in the basement — and didn’t dig them out until our Maryland show [in summer 2021] was booked.

Rockmommy: Speaking of Maryland, what was that like? Was there a renewed appreciation for what you’re doing? 

Nikita: It was great to be out there again, but there was also sort of a weird cloud hanging over things, with delta sort of starting to emerge. Like the first “welcome back” thing that happened was showing up to the grounds and finding out we had a different sound man because the person I’d been talking to all week was now in the ICU with COVID. And the day before I was supposed to leave, both my husband and son got sick. They tested negative for COVID, but I had the stress of possibly having to cancel the show. I was grateful that it was an outdoor show. We all want to return to normal but it still doesn’t feel totally within reach. But the bikers and fans at the show were awesome and it did feel good to be on stage again!

Tawny: The members of the Hell’s Angels we met were among the sweetest, most respectful guys we’ve met on the road. It had been so long since we played that it felt brand new again, meeting the other bands on the bill, doing sound check, meeting people from the audience… It was great.

Girls Girls Girls! (From left to right: Denise Mercedes Mars, Tawny Lee, Nikita Seis, Trixxx Neil)

Rockmommy: So all-girl tribute bands have grown, but good ones are rare. Do you get compared with Mötley Crüe a lot? Are people shocked (or not surprised at all) that girls can KICK ASS playing like the pros?

Nikita: We’ve been together almost 15 years now. I do kind of feel like back in those days we got a lot of surprise at the fact we were girls kicking ass, but thankfully we’re hearing that part less these days.

Rockmommy: GGG’s members have tons of personal responsibilities. Like kids, spouses, and jobs. How do you make time for music?

Nikita: It’s got progressively harder for me at least. My kids are 11 and 9 now. It’s easier now than when they were younger, but it is still hard to find the time to practice. Thankfully, since I’ve been playing these songs for so long, it’s really just minimal upkeep. I have a very supportive husband who steps up when I have to fly out a few days for rehearsals or gigs. 

The last gig that I played in the same city as my family was in 2016, and my son was 5. At that time I didn’t want to have him at the gig because I felt like I’d have a hard time being Nikita and not being Mom. Now I’d like for my kids to see me play at least once, so I’m waiting for the right show so they can see me. They’re getting to the age where I’m not cool anymore, so hopefully I can change their minds!

Tawny Lee: I have zero kids, and it’s still hard making time! So big props to Nikita and all the other musician parents out there. My career has always been pretty demanding, but GGG is important enough to me that I will always make time, even if that means working in the van with no internet or plugging in at a hotel “business center.” Which has been tricky at times, given that historically my work has had no idea about my side gig. It can be tricky to reasonably explain why I’m driving to PA and then OH and then upstate NY in a three-day stretch, or why I’m visiting Alaska in January.

Rockmommy: Any upcoming shows for the fall, or tour dates?

Nikita: We have a few upcoming shows we’re scheduling that we haven’t announced yet! Hopefully with the pandemic they all go off without a hitch!

 Rockmommy: What is your favorite Motley Crüe song?

Nikita: This is like asking who your favorite child is. But ‘Live Wire’ is sort of the song that kicked off the first album, first video, etc., and it really set the tone for their whole career. Just a kickass piece of music, with a little bit of cowbell!  And ‘Girls Girls Girls’ will always be one of my favorite songs, not just because it’s our namesake. 

I remember being a sixth grade girl watching that video for the first time  There’s a part at the end where Nikki Sixx is summoning a brunette to come to him, and I remember wanting to be that brunette. As inappropriate as that is, that’s the girl who steps on stage now with her bass, even if at home I’m a mom who drops her kids off at sports before going to book club.

Tawny Lee: Yeesh, Sophie’s Choice. ‘Live Wire’ overall, ‘Primal Scream’ for the beat, ‘Ten Seconds to Love’ for the ridiculous lyrics, and…’Public Enemy #1’ because it makes me happy. And ‘Take Me to the Top.’ And…OK I’ll stop.

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy

Blues Guitarist Rafe Klein of the Name Droppers Talks Music, Dad Life, and Gigs in ’21

By Marisa Torrieri Bloom

Connecticut-based blues rocker and guitar-wielding dad Rafe Klein first caught my attention when I watched a virtual livestream of his solo set in mid 2020. But it wasn’t just his cool guitar chops (he studied with the legendary Charlie Karp in his 30s) and singing that impressed me. He had a presence — an unmistakable confidence and earnestness in his delivery — that piqued my interest and kept me listening. 

So I was particularly excited about his latest project — a musical collaboration between his band the Name Droppers and international recording artist Carole Sylvan, which culminated in the record ‘Love’ that dropped earlier this summer. The record, produced by Vic Steffens, is loaded with funky guitar riffs, rich, soaring vocals, and danceable beats. 

Rafe Klein (far left) and the Name Droppers with Carole Sylvan (center). Photo courtesy of Rafe Klein.

We recently caught up with Rafe to talk about what’s next, including his September 2nd show at Café Nine (New Haven) with Frank Viele.

Rockmommy: Hi Rafe! How would you describe your music for those who haven’t heard you? 

Rafe Klein: The Name Droppers play blues rock. I really like the idea of using traditional blues riffs, but using them differently, maybe less frequently, or perhaps as a reprise. Then turning them into a non-traditional blues song, which could be, but is not limited to, the standard 1-4-5 progression, but still recognized as a blues.  

Rockmommy: So when did you start playing guitar?

Rafe Klein: I started taking lessons about 13 years ago. At first just playing chords, mostly on acoustic. Then I started playing electric, and began to learn how to solo, started working my way around the neck. I’m still learning, and always looking for ways to improve my playing.  

Rockmommy: How have you been making the most of gigging and playing out this summer?

Rafe Klein: We’ve had a decent amount of shows this summer, and fortunately, most of them were well attended. I think because of the pandemic, certain venues now have twice the budget, since most of last year’s budget is still available to them. 

But now, because of the new Delta variant, bands, and booking agents are both thinking twice about booking gigs into the fall or winter. It’s a complete unknown, and it may be something we’re all just going to have to deal with for a while, or maybe even longer.  

Rafe Klein (Photo: Kvon Photography)

Rockmommy: You made a record with international recording artist Carole Sylvan (‘Love’). Is there anything more you can tell us about the music?

Rafe Klein: This record, produced by Vic Steffens, has been a work in progress for over two years. Besides the Name Droppers, we’ve got a great lineup of additional musicians, including soul man Bobby Harden, who is a guest vocalist on a song he wrote called ‘What Do You Call It.’ 

Carole’s ability to put together vocal arrangements and do all the parts and background vocals herself has really impressed me. I’m proud of the record, and think its collection of original songs, plus a few covers like ‘Tennessee Whiskey’ — one of my favorite songs — make it stand out, and hopefully make some noise.

Rockmommy: What are your hopes (and plans) for making music this fall? 

Rafe Klein: Fortunately, ‘Love’ is being played on over 100 college radio stations in the United States, and we will be supporting the album. Carole Sylvan & The Name Droppers have two shows lined up this Fall: Cafe Nine in New Haven on September 2nd, and a return Triad Theatre in New York City on November 11th.  

Rockmommy: What’s your advice for balancing parenthood with being a musician or creative person?

Rafe Klein: If you try to make your kids part of your creation, it can be rewarding. This is not easy, however. I have made a few funny videos where my kids are the main characters. Working with your kids in a creative environment is not the same as working with your musical peers. 

There is a lack of attention, as well as the fact that you are their dad, and not their dance instructor or creative instructor. It can be frustrating, but really cool and rewarding when it works. Encourage your kids to play instruments. Especially the drums if you can handle the noise. Playing drums can open up all kinds of talent or curiosity. The ability to keep time can lead to learning other instruments, or better musicianship.  

I also think if you over-encourage them it could be a problem too. Let them want to do it. If it comes from you, it’s probably not cool. But if a friend from class starts playing violin, for example, and then your kids come home and want to take up violin. Letting it happen organically is more productive then forcing them to learn or practice something that they may not value. 

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy.

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.