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

Anna Wilson and Monty Powell, on Connecting in Love and Music

By Marisa Torrieri Bloom

Anna Wilson and her husband Monty Powell — who’ve been writing music together practically since the day they met — make collaboration look easy. But the longtime lovebirds, married 20 years, admit there are moments of disharmony. 

Anna Wilson and Monty Powell

“The creative tension is real, and we do bicker about creative vision,” Anna admits to Rockmommy. “But when the work phase passes it’s all about the love and we just go have a nice dinner together.” 

Their chemistry is obvious onstage too. The couple, longtime Nashville dwellers who relocated to Utah a few years ago, are the driving force behind the musical duo Troubadour 77, which infuses gorgeous rock vocal harmonies with Monty’s layered, often intricate, guitar playing and Anna’s piano melodies. As American Songwriter noted, Troubadour 77 came together as a sort of “tribute to the legendary Troubadour club in LA,” where artists of the ’60s and ’70s like Carole King and The Eagles made a name for themselves. 

It’s a beautiful transition from their former life, as a songwriter-and-producer team behind some of the greatest songs performed by stars like Tim McGraw, Keith Urban, and Lady Antebellum.

And while the pandemic put touring on hold, Troubadour 77 still managed to pull together weekly 15-minute Facebook Live-streamed “T77 Squared” concerts. When I asked Monty about them in mid-April — at the tail end of a conversation about which home-recording gear I should buy — he told me the shorter duration of these sets was intentional. A couple could enjoy a glass of wine, listen to a few songs, relax, and then move on to the rest of their night. No strings attached.

We recently caught up with Anna and Monty to learn more about timing, parenthood (they’ve got two daughters), and what’s next in the post-quarantine world. 

Rockmommy: For those who might not be familiar with your music, how would you describe it?

Anna Wilson: I’d say our ‘sound’ captures the spirit of the SoCal Laurel Canyon era of the 70s. Folks like Carole King, Jackson Browne, CSNY and others who graced the stage of Doug Weston’s Troubadour club in West Hollywood. I am continually trying to keep the flame alive of what that community represented musically, lyrically and artistically.

Monty Powell: Organic, classic singer songwriter — pop/rock with an Americana palette. 

Rockmommy: Can you tell us a little but about how you met? 

Anna Wilson: We met backstage at a Diamond Rio concert in Nashville in September 1993. Monty was the band’s producer and I was the band’s publicist. I was trying to sound all cool and deep and told Monty I wanted to make a concept album about the “Seasons”. It’s amazing he continued to talk to me. I swear this was not drug induced!

Rockmommy: Let’s talk about the challenges of 2020 for musicians. What was that like for you two?

Monty Powell: Learning how to entertain over virtual platforms with no audience was hard. 

Anna Wilson: I’d also say learning how to keep our fan base engaged in a meaningful way via social media since we could not tour and interact with them like we normally always have. The reinvention of how to bring quality virtual concerts and content to our followers, and the technical aspects that go along with that pursuit, was a definite learning curve. 

Anna Wilson (Photo credit: Juan Pont Lezica)

Rockmommy: The Facebook Live series was brilliant. How did that come about? 

Anna Wilson: The virtual two-song session that we called “T77 Squared Concerts” was born out of the pandemic and not being able to be out on the road and performing live. With everyone online and screen weary we thought the short format would be welcome. After 6 months of that series, lots of folks mentioned they wanted longer sets so we moved to an hour long, once a month concert that we call The 777 Show that featured 7 songs on the 7th of the month at 7pm EST. Both series have been great but in some ways the virtual concert is starting to feel like it’s run its course. Everyone is fatigued by the online virtual experience from just all content in general. In light of this observation, we are doing our last episode on March 7, 2021, and that will complete a one-year cycle of virtual concerts for us. We will still do some special episodes of virtual concerts but just not a regular series and we hope to get back to live performing and touring by Fall 2021.

Rockmommy: How did the past year’s challenges influence your music and creative process? 

Anna Wilson: We definitely wrote and released songs that matched the moments we were in and the experiences we were all collectively going through. Troubadour 77 wound up adding two bonus tracks, The Love Forward Project, to our existing album Revolution & Redemption to create a Deluxe release. These songs were my artistic and creative reaction to the virus, social justice conversation, the political climate and other issues that were swirling throughout 2020.

Monty Powell: It definitely pushed our writing into a more socially active space with more commentary on current events.

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

Anna Wilson: Monty and I are writing a play similar in format of what Bruce Springsteen did with his “Springsteen on Broadway.” It will weave in songs spanning our careers along with a unique and compelling narrative that ties it all together. We hope to have it written by the end of this winter, rehearse it in the spring, record it over the summer and find a way to begin touring it in 2022.  

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

Monty Powell: Involve your kids in your creative process. Make them understand that it’s not a mystery, that is mostly just hard work ethic. 

Anna Wilson: Just because you are spending time helping your kids do homework or driving them in carpool doesn’t mean you aren’t feeding your creative soul. In fact, it may be the very portal that you draw inspiration from and where your next song idea or melody comes from. Creativity can exist in the midst of the chaos. In fact, it is often sparked in the midst of it. When it hits, grab it, write it down until you do get some quiet time to refocus on it. It will still be there for you to access when you do. 

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy.