Laurie Berkner, Rockstar to Preschoolers Everywhere, Talks Live-streaming and New Tunes for 2021

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

So many parents have a Laurie Berkner memory that gives them the warm and fuzzies. I have several — the nights I’d play “Bubbles” and my then-toddler sons would gleefully splash along in their bath, or the time I played “Silly Brushing Song” to motivate my older kid to spend more than 15 seconds at the sink, brushing his teeth. My favorite two tunes, hands down, are “We are The Dinosaurs” and “Monster Boogie,” but my kids love “Superhero” the most.  

Laurie Berkner (Photo by Jayme Thornton)

And even as my kids grow older and discover grown-up music, they’ve still got a special place in their hearts (and on their playlists) for Laurie Berkner. It’s a good thing, too, since we really relied on artists like Laurie to livestream like crazy since March 2020, the month that things began to change. 

[SEE RELATED: Superhero Mom Laurie Berkner: 20 Years of Making Cool Tunes in the Ever-Evolving Kids Music Soundscape]

Laurie’s daily Facebook Live concert series, which featured singalongs and stories and a ton of cool virtual content, was a much-needed reprieve from “homeschool” with mom and dad for my 5-year-old son. And while things aren’t back to “normal” or “2019-ish” quite yet, Laurie’s cooking up some awesome new tunes. 

We recently caught up with the performer and mom to find out what’s next. 

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

Laurie Berkner: I know there are many people who have had many more devastating experiences than I have over the last year, but for me, being a parent during this pandemic has been very emotionally distressing. My teenage daughter has been trying to find ways to handle the difficulties of remote learning, being separated from her friends and teachers, and missing all of the hands-on aspects of school that made it fun and challenging, but as I witness her struggling, not being able to personally help her or do much about it, has been quite painful for me. 

As far as my career goes, all of my live performances since last March have, of course, been either canceled or postponed. Suddenly having to wear so many hats (videographer, photographer, recording engineer, set designer, administrative assistant, etc.) on top of running my business and being the performer and composer/musician, has been exhausting and quickly became unsustainable. Luckily, I have an incredible person as my COO who decided to buy an RV with her partner, and they moved into my driveway in July. This has meant that I actually have help now with a lot of what I was trying to do entirely by myself — and it has been amazing.

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

Laurie Berkner: In response to the fact that schools were closed in the spring, I started doing daily Facebook Live concerts for a couple of months. The interaction with people all over the country (and the world, actually) was really inspiring — and I wrote songs that I might not have otherwise. I also finished an album that I had started before the pandemic, doing the final recordings remotely. That was a harder process, and I found myself paring down some of the instrumentation of a few of the songs, as well as singing some of my own background vocals in order to simplify things. I went through intense periods of creativity and intense periods of feeling like I had nothing in me. It has been an exhausting, roller coaster of a year.

[SEE RELATED: Laurie Berkner’s Daily Livestream is Exactly What Kids and Homeschooling Parents Need Right Now

Rockmommy: What are you most hopeful for in 2021?

Laurie Berkner: I am hoping that my daughter will be able to go back to school in a somewhat “normal” way. I hope that I’ll be able to hug the people I work with and that I will be able to make live music with the people in my band again!! And I hope that as a country we truly start to hold each other accountable for the racism that has been built into our culture and make meaningful, conscious, changes towards equity.

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

Laurie Berkner: I have been doing Livestream Family Concerts every six weeks that will be continuing into 2021. The next one is on Valentine’s Day (tickets at live.laurieberkner.com). Also, the album I mentioned that I just completed is called Let’s Go! and it will be released on March 5th (pre-sale starts on February 5th).

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

Laurie Berkner: I’m basically still trying to figure this one out, but I do find that allowing myself to explore and enjoy my own creativity while I’m with my daughter, as well as when I find time to be alone, means that I almost end up having enough time to do both. 

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy

Six Rock Memoirs I Can’t Wait to Read This Winter

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

We don’t know what the future holds, but one thing’s clear: We’re not leaving the house much this winter.  

Personally, I’ll be digging into a lot of books. And it just so happens there are some killer rock n’ roll memoirs out there — like, hundreds of them. I don’t have time to read all of them, but are six highly rated, salacious ones I’m hoping to tackle this winter. 

Just a few of the rock n’ roll ladies I plan to read about in 2021. Lisa Robinson’s ‘Nobody Ever Asked Me About The Girls’ isn’t a memoir, but it is full of some great cultural insights and anecdotes by a highly renowned journalist.

Debbie Harry: ‘Face It’ (2019): I’ve never met Debbie Harry, but I feel like we’re cosmically connected, and not just because we’re blondes in bands drawn to New York’s East Village art-punk music scene. Nevertheless, I have a confession: After attending her book talk at NYC’s Town Hall in September 2019, I got super busy with life, and didn’t get to crack it open. This winter, I can’t wait to read some of the salacious tales of Debbie’s adventures with bandmate and bestie Chris Stein and others. 

Patti Smith: Just Kids (2020): Patti Smith inspired so many of my favorite artists, like Shirley Manson of Garbage. But only recently did I stream her 1975 debut album Horses for the first time. And girl, have I been missing out! This memoir, based on Smith’s relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe, is as real as it gets (fun fact: Mapplethorpe created the androgynous image of her in white shirt, black pants and black jacket for the Horses album cover).

Lenny Kravitz: Let Love Rule (2020): Lenny Kravitz was one coolest, most talented and eclectic musicians of the late 1990s and early 2000s — and in this memoir, he dives deep, taking the reader on his journey through the industry, marriage and fatherhood, and more.

Tegan and Sara: ‘High School’ (2019): I’m super excited to read this book about musician twins Tegan and Sara Quin because we’re about the same age, and it’s loaded with ’90s grunge references. Rolling Stone published an excerpt when the book was released — and it takes me right back to my teen angst years, and the moment I first discovered the guitar.  

Patty Schmel: Hits So Hard (2017): Everyone who knows me knows that Hole is my favorite band, and has been since 1994, when the band released ‘Live Through This.’ Hole’s incredibly talented drummer Patty Schmel has been through hell and back, like many in the heroin-infused ’90s Seattle grunge scene. Today she’s a wife and #rockmommy so when I got this book as a present from a writer friend, I knew it was meant for my nightstand.

Bobbie Brown: Dirty Rocker Boys (2013): She’s Warrant’s cherry pie, a sexy video muse that put the pop-metal band on the map. In this memoir, widow of Jani Layne (and the baby mama of his daughter Taylar), spills the secrets of being a rockstar wife. I’ve wanted to read this one for ages!

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the founder and editor of Rockmommy.

Stacey Peasley’s High-Energy Record Embraces Optimism and 2020’s Silver Linings

This month, Rockmommy talks to artists about their plans or the coming year. Up first: family pop-rock musician Stacey Peasley, whose upcoming record Make it Happen! drops February 12. If the buoyant title track is any indication, Peasley’s latest album will be the dose of joy we all need in an otherwise uncertain, chilly winter. 

Stacey Peasley (Credit: Katie Ring Photography)

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

Stacey Peasley: As a mom and business owner, I found that 2020 had its challenges. I have two teenagers and a second grader and we had a busy suburban life — soccer games, gymnastics meets, music lessons. Our activities came to a halt, and each child had to adjust to online learning. I am most concerned about my second grader, who was learning crucial reading, writing, and math skills. The lack of normal child and adolescent peer interaction was also a big challenge. Now they attend a hybrid model and are in person and remote every other week. Activities have started up again slowly. 

Pre-Covid, I was working as a performer and music specialist in schools, libraries, and classes five days a week. I was also in the middle of recording my latest album. Suddenly, all of my work was  gone or had to transition immediately to virtual, and I had the bare minimum to work with — basically my iPhone and a laptop! I had to learn to record the vocal tracks on my album’s final two songs at home on my own. I wasn’t able to perform with my band, and that was really surreal.  It was also challenging knowing my income was going to be severely impacted.

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

Stacey Peasley: As a creative artist, educator, and business owner, my mind is always going — songs to write, lessons to plan, curriculum to learn, gigs to promote, music and classes to market and honestly, I love all of it! I started to try to take advantage of this new “down time” and focus more on writing. I wrote a song that will appear on my new album called “At the Parade” during Covid, after the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Boston got cancelled. This song would not exist had it not been for Covid. I also started to focus on my next project, which is a ballet concept album for children, and I’m continuing to write that. I also had to get creative with my virtual offerings and have now embraced having fun being creative with my very own green screen and backgrounds! Still trying to learn a few new things!

Rockmommy: What are you most hopeful for in 2021? 

Stacey Peasley: I am most hopeful musically, that we can all be together again, communally enjoying music. I am so blessed to usually be surrounded by kids and families, singing, dancing, and having fun with friends. I am usually having toddlers and preschoolers giving me lots and lots of hugs. I am most comfortable teaching and performing, and I really miss it. I love the feeling I have making music with other musicians, as well. I have been in bands since I was 18 years old, that’s over… gulp …25 years! My first gig was in 1992! I am also hopeful that our children and nation can heal from this catastrophic pandemic mentally, emotionally, and physically. 

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

Stacey Peasley: I would LOVE to share my new album called Make it Happen! that drops on Feb 12, 2021. It has 10 original songs that I really, really love. I worked on it with musicians and producers in Boston and New York, and I am really excited about it. I also think it shows my growth as a songwriter. 

Stacy Peasley (Photo Credit: Mandy MacCormack)

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

Stacey Peasley: One thing I realized these past few years is that when I wasn’t able to be creative due to the hecticness of life and as a mom, I got really angry and almost depressed. I had all these ideas festering inside of me that weren’t permitted to come out because I had no time to devote to them. As a parent of young children, there isn’t a lot of “me” time! I would suggest small steps to keep those ideas alive, whether it’s writing and singing a song into your phone to capture the idea, knowing you WILL get back to it, asking for help, and even having your kids get involved in the creative process with you. As they say, the days are long, but the years are short. I honestly cannot believe my first baby will be 16 this year! 

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy

Rock n’ Goals for the New Year

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

Resolutions, for me, are a thing of my pre-kid ’20s. I’d make sweeping declarations, like “I’m going to lose 10 pounds” or “I’m going to play piano” as if they were easy feats, only to find that the post-holiday afterglow waned within the first few days of January.

Today, having had two kids, I’ve learned that big, sweeping resolutions are super unrealistic.

What’s worked better: Small goals, like committing to playing 10 minutes of guitar per day, every day, except on vacations. I did this in 2019. In 2020, my goal was to play 12 shows in one year. This was a big goal, considering the last time I played regularly with a band was in 2011. But in spite of Covid, I did it!

The secret? Setting a tiny, manageable goal.

I haven’t quite figured out what my rockin’ goal is this year, but I have a few candidates (I’ll pick one by week’s end, I promise). Here they are:

  1. Read 1-2 rock memoirs, cover to cover;
  2. Play music for 15 minutes per day;
  3. Record a solo EP (3-5 songs);
  4. Record an EP with my band by year’s end;
  5. Write one new song every month;
  6. Learn to play 12 hair metal songs, solos included;
  7. Play 6 in-person gigs;
  8. Record an album with my sons from my home studio.

Thoughts? Which one is best for me? Are any of these goals shared by you?

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the founder and editor of Rockmommy.

A Year of Rock n’ Roll Silver Linings

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

It’s been quite a year — and definitely not the one anyone expected 365 days ago. There’s no way to sugarcoat how terrible it’s been, between the pandemic, racial tensions and political strife.

I count myself as lucky, but still experienced a lot of pain and sadness. I haven’t been to Maryland, my home state, since March, and haven’t seen my family in months. My poor kids have had to endure nearly a year of part-time or full-time “home school” — and while their dad has a master’s in education and I’m a guitar teacher, helping them learn was harder than we expected!

But there are so many silver linings to the 2020, and I need to take a moment to share a few of them right now:

  1. Both of my kids learned how to ride their bikes. Bye, bye, training wheels!
  2. I spent 1 out of every 2 days at the beach between May and October.
  3. I set out a resolution to play 12 shows in 2020 and I DID IT!! My band Trashing Violet knocked out four in January and February, and between 3 livestream solo gigs on Facebook, and one neighborhood driveway gig on 6/21 (Make Music Day), I also played a party with my band, and a fun Halloween gig on our drummer’s driveway for his neighbors. Oh yeah, I played First Friday Norwalk (solo) with my friends Castle Black, and The Cellar with my husband and friends (with my kids watching).
  4. Orchestrated a GRGR (Girls Rock Girls Rule) reunion show in Brooklyn with my crew — Michele, Rew & Gail — in February before the apocalypse came.
  5. Interviewed at least 30 artists/musicians/rockmommies
  6. ran a camp for my kids all summer
  7. experienced more things outdoors in cold weather than I ever thought possible, with and without heat lamps (who thought we’d own one?!). I’ll never forget that night in December when my band practiced in our drummer’s backyard in 15-degree weather.
  8. Grew Rockmommy’s followers and published a ton more content.
  9. Learned the basics of DIY home recording, and purchased my first-ever PA, bass, and professional microphone/console set.
  10. Spent so much time with my spouse and kids. I love them so much and am so grateful they have my back.

So here’s to looking forward, and taking on the future with gratitude. I’m hoping for the best for humanity and everyone I love. Thank you for reading this blog, and for being a valuable part of the #Rockmommy community. XOXOX and Happy New Year!

— Marisa

7 Reasons I’m Pumped About Miley Cyrus’ New Record ‘Plastic Hearts’

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

I love Miley Cyrus’ music so much that I cover two of her songs on the regular — “Malibu” and “Wrecking Ball.” The first one speaks to me for so many reasons; it mirrors a short period in my life when I felt exhausted and apologetic for taking the little things for granted. The second one is tear-jerkingly beautiful and powerful — and one of the greatest songs ever written. 

Miley Cyrus ‘Plastic Hearts’ is out now

I just started listening to Miley Cyrus’ new record Plastic Heart today, and it’s brilliant. Here’s why I’m so excited about it.

1. Things are dark AF right now. 

We need a fierce, balls-out babe rocking our world right now. Miley made the record that will fix your broken December, with its face mask mandates and axed holiday visits. It will fix your head, as you drive down the highway, nostalgic for warm rehearsal spaces and gigs at dive bars. Thank you, Miley, for saving me from the depths of 2020 misery. 

2. Joan Jett and Billy Idol Make an appearance. 

Not gonna lie, the first track I streamed was “Bad Karma,” featuring orgasmically rich uh-huh huhs that would make Julia Michaels shiver. Joan Jett’s never sounded hotter, and neither has Billy Idol on “Night Crawling,” which is sultry and a touch goth. Yes, I’m swooning from my chair, over here in the suburbs of Fairfield, Connecticut. 

3. Her voice keeps getting better. 

Like fine, red wine, Miley’s vocals have aged beautifully, and on Plastic Hearts, we can appreciate their weathered, lived-in smokiness. Pitchfork’s Shaad D’Souza puts it perfectly in noting, “her sandpapery alto has never sounded more natural.” 

4. She keeps proving the haters wrong.

After the 2013 MTV Awards twerking incident, Miley Cyrus underwent a serious identity crisis — stuck for years between the innocent Hannah Montana persona and full-blown womanhood. But no matter how many people called her stupid or over-sexualized, or blamed her for setting a bad example, Miley held her head high and moved forward. She continued to live her life authentically, write music, sing, show up for her family, make time for charitable events and — eventually — attempt to get sober. Who among us hasn’t struggled with identity crisis or regret? I’m sure there are stupid dudes who will look at the headline for this blog, roll their eyes, and mutter something under their breath about how dumb it is for a grown-a*s woman to rhapsodize her love of the former Hannah Montana star. They can all suck it. 

5. That “Zombie” cover is so on point. 

I could write a sentence or two about how many dude-infused rock bands have tried to cover this ’90s classic from The Cranberries. But instead, I’d like you to use your time to listen to it here, in its raw, guttural beauty. Spoiler alert: It’s MUCH better than any other “Zombie” cover you’ve heard. 

[RELATED: My Teenage Nostalgia: Singing Along to Dolores O’Riordan in the Car]

6. She is not defined by genre. 

Like the best of artists, Miley doesn’t let herself fall into one category, like country or pop. While Plastic Hearts is a rock record, there’s a country-esque tune (“Angels Like You”), which bring out her Nashville drawl, and a fun, nightclub-vibe track with the girl-of-the-moment Dua Lipa (“Prisoner”). It’s so, so good, and suddenly I find myself wanting to drive a delivery truck.

7. She wears her heart on her sleeve. 

Miley’s struggled with losses in love, addiction, and trauma from the recent California wildfires, which burned down the Malibu home that inspired her love song to ex hubby Liam Hemsworth. Staying sober is no picnic, especially in Covid times, and Miley’s had a few slips. But she’s real. And real is exactly what we all need right now. Happy listening, mamas. 

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the founder and editor of Rockmommy

Rockmommy Holiday 2020 Gift Guide for Kids

Make a big impression with little rockers everywhere this holiday season. 

Loog mini guitar; $63. We love the 3-string Loog Mini guitar and its accompanying app, which make it easy for a young child to learn to play real songs — not just scales or exercises. 

loog guitar

Encore board game; $19.98. The rules are simple: See who can sing at least one verse of a song containing words like “nice” and “love.” Winner takes all!

OVELLIC Karaoke Microphone for Kids; $17.09: Sing anywhere with this portable karaoke microphone that’s also equipped with a Bluetooth speaker and more. 

FAO Schwartz Piano Dance Mat; $31.99 (Macy’s): Stuck indoors because 2020? This sonic mat helps kids will burn off energy while learning a little piano. 

LEGO Trolls World Tour Volcano Rock City Concert; $31.99. It’s rock vs. pop again, in this musical lego set. 

Cedar Thumb piano; $30-$50; Paul and Sue Bergstrom’s modern take on a traditional African thumb piano boasts an amp-compatible design.

Toy drum set; $21.99: For your little drummer boy (or girl). 

7-piece toy drum set