Once a Solo, now a 6-piece Band

Susan has been joined by a group of people to form a new entity--Susan Cypher and The Nightbird Band. About three years ago, Susan talked her husband into joining her onstage. That was the beginning of what has been a long-term goal, putting together a band to truly bring forth the sound that lives in Susan's head. You may have also noticed that this corner has been quiet for the past few years. This was in part, due to caring for Susan's mother, and the fact that Susan almost lost her ability to play music, with carpal tunnel syndrome arising from her job as a medical transcriptionist--a fascinating job, but hard on the hands. Out of the loss, however, came beauty, as Dave and Susan both shifted their focus from their mundane jobs (no longer a possibility for Susan) to what they ultimately wanted to do. With the money Susan received from her parents' estate, she remodeled her garage, making both a jewelry and music studio. Realizing she could no longer work as a transcriptionist, she decided it was time to really work her art. With the help of family and friends, the studio was built!!

All this time, there had been new music being written, but none recorded, simply because Susan wanted to do create the songs exactly how she heard them. Oddly, it was after her father's funeral, and trying to fix the recording made on the fly that she realized she really wanted to record things herself. Her first goal was researching what she would need for a home studio. Little by little, she bought the pieces needed. She realized that she also wanted to have a group to perform the songs the way she heard them in her mind. By this time, she had already convinced Dave, her husband, to join her, so part of the group was already on board. Besides his willingness to play, Dave also really understood the rhythms that Susan was writing, which tend toward Latin, Middle-Eastern, even Australian. She had found, previously, it was hard to find a drummer who really got her rhythms. Dave, quite simply, got them. Comments, as they started playing together, were always things like, "wow, he really completes your sound." So Susan felt, as well.

Next, returning to the valley was the only other member, ever, of "The Nightbird, Dusty Munger--awesome bass player. As she got the studio ready and recovered her hands after surgery, she approached Dusty. His reply was yes!! Susan and Dave were both excited, simply because Dusty was a creative player. He didn't have to be told how to play, he just played. He created amazing bass lines that complimented the music. Dave, Susan, and Dusty started first preparing to work together in the summer of 2010 for a Renaissance wedding in Larkspur, as Dusty started creating bass lines for the music. Voila, the band was now three strong. The next member to join was Howard Huff, husband of a wonderful belly dancer and friend, Wendy. Dave and Susan had occasionally invited Howard, an accomplished conga player and (to Susan's later surprise and delight) a bass player, to join them on a few occasions. The results were always great, so in the spring of 2011, she asked Howard to join the band. He also said yes!! Our band now had four members.

Susan, however, was not done yet. She craved to have other singers join her merry band. Having been a music director for many different groups, Susan always loved writing harmony. Her first band, Patchwork, had wonderful harmonies--thanks to the efforts of Carol Altes, fantastic pianist, singer, composer, and arranger. The ladies in that group were members of the same family and were very strong singers. That was what she was looking for again--sweet harmony. She also knew she wanted a very specific, very dear friend to join her, hoping their music could dance together. She already knew they blended, having worked together with her on several other projects. So she asked Gretchen McGeeney, to join her growing band of minstrels. Gretchen also said yes, adding her soaring soprano to Susan's own silver sound. Now, Susan knew that Gretchen was a very good pianist, but to her great surprise, she discovered that Gretchen also played the accordion. Since some of The Nightbird's pieces call for accordion, including the new "Tango of the Dark Goddess," Susan was delighted.

The final member was a surprise to Susan because this person approached her. At a metaphysical fair, where Susan was working as a psychic intuitive, a lovely lady named Karen Fricke approached her. She brought with her the two CDs that she had recorded with her brother. Susan took them home, listened to them, and then arranged for Karen to audition for her. It was with great joy that Susan discovered their voices blended beautifully. With that, Karen's rich earthy alto was added into The Nightbird's mix.

You might guess that our group, now six strong, might have something up its collective sleeve. We do! Work on the newest CD of The Nightbird's music proceeded apace this summer and will continue through the fall, with hopes to bring out the new CD by Christmas. It may even be that we will release each song by itself for download, only compiling a full CD after the individual songs are out online. It amazes me that we have the ability to do this these days. We will also be working toward more concert-style events, with a goal of doing fund-raising for different charities we each hold dear. I also have a personal goal of doing a better job of letting all of you know what we are doing these days--especially since it is now WE!!

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