Sonoma County has always attracted and produced musicians. Some of them are well known internationally. Others have more limited fan bases existing mainly within the Bay Area, throughout the West Coast or in a geographic range.
As with many working in the creative arts, those who haven’t made it to household-name fame often have to work especially hard to make a living doing what they love. For many local musicians that means working in and juggling commitments with multiple bands.
They share a passion for what they do that was instilled at a young age and have an appreciation for the many live music venues in the area that afford so many opportunities to play. They also share a commitment to continuous learning, and very busy schedules.
Before the season gets fully underway, they took a few minutes out of those busy schedules to tell us what keeps them going, and where you might be able to catch their acts this summer.
Bands she plays with: Medicine Ball Band, Tony Saunders’ smooth jazz ensemble, Poyntlyss Sistars Rockin’ Show Band, Rock ’n’ Roll Rhythm Review, Elvis Johnson’s Soul Review and BackTrax Rock Band
Instruments she plays: Saxophone. I fake it on the flute. I also play the guitar and piano, but just when I am teaching.
What inspired you to learn music, and where did you learn to play?
The inspiration came from my dad. “You are going to play the saxophone, whether you like it or not.” I squawked out my first note when I was a fourth-grade student at Meadows Elementary School (a public school in Millbrae). In the public schools they had short, free lessons and then you went on to play in the orchestra.
My father was a musician. He admired someone who played the saxophone. I did like the sax, but I really liked my dad’s approval. He didn’t give us a lot of praise. He would have his beer-drinking, cigar-smoking friends over to play poker, and he would call me out to make me play a song. Not just a song. He liked John Philip Sousa marches and polkas. I was the only girl playing the saxophone when I was in school. Not that many women play horns. People would always say, “How do you get so much noise out of that horn.”
I studied piano seriously with an amazing pianist from the San Francisco Symphony for 10 years, but the things you learn to do as a kid are the ones that come easily to you when you are an adult. I use all the instruments at the North Bay Christian Academy in Novato where I teach intermediate and advanced jazz ensemble, but the saxophone is the only one I play for an audience. One of the places I still get inspiration is playing out at the coast. I am a surfer. I like to combine the two loves.
What’s the best thing about playing in multiple bands at the same time?
If, or when, I get fired from one band, I can still toot my horn.
What’s the hardest thing about it?
Getting fired, because I am in too many bands. I think that I have been fired at least eight times, and twice from one band.
What’s your favorite venue to play in Sonoma County, and why?
The ones that stand out are Montgomery Village and Funky Fridays at Hood Mansion. They both support causes that are important. Montgomery Village did so much to support the fire victims. We raised thousands of dollars. Funky Fridays raises money to benefit the Sonoma County Regional Parks Foundation. It’s important to me to support people and venues that are supporting others.