Girls Just Wanna Have Fun …
And Make Music!
Lori Jacobs tells an amusing story about her first encounter with a musical instrument when she was a kid. She wanted a trumpet, but her mother desperately tried to steer her toward a flute or clarinet. When her mom asked what her second favorite instrument was Lori said DRUMS. Her mother responded, “get the trumpet.”
Jacobs started playing professionally as a union musician in southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey at the age of 15. She plays several instruments, including lead guitar.
Anne Davey, on the other hand, never even took lessons on bass guitar, which she now plays at their shows. Instead, she borrowed her brother’s bass guitar and played along to tunes on the radio.
For years the two women had day jobs to pay the bills. Jacobs squeezed in a plethora of mini careers, working as a certified building inspector in Vermont and Pennsylvania, and as an IT pro in many locations. She owned a women’s gym in Pennsylvania, meanwhile playing as many music gigs as possible. She spent four active-duty years in the Air Force at NORAD in Colorado Springs and four years in the Air Force Reserves.
Davey was a customer service rep and quality control supervisor at Amtrak. “I also worked as an aide to special needs children while mostly raising my two boys at home,” she said.
Davey and Jacobs met in 2011, playing for the band Tangled Web in the Philadelphia area. It was Anne’s first band experience. A friend asked her to come to his band practice and join in. “I was so shy that I had never even sung karaoke before,” she said. “That one friend was my catalyst.”
“Anne and I immediately clicked vocally,” said Jacobs, “so they hired me for rhythm guitar and vocals.”
Singing wasn’t the only thing that clicked for them. They married last summer. “Once we acknowledged that there was more than just a friendship between us, we both knew that we wanted to be together forever,” said Davey.
This year, Jacobs and Davey are celebrating their 10th year performing as Bettenroo. They claim to have had many memorable moments, giving accolades to the Rehoboth Beach community which, they say, constantly builds on their experiences. And there are others: They were interviewed on North Sydney (Australia) radio while enroute to playing a concert in Dunedin, New Zealand. “It was totally unexpected and yet another example of how connecting music can be globally,” Jacobs mused.
Known for their melodic harmony, Jacobs and Davey play at popular spots in their two home locations—Rehoboth Beach and Grand Island, Vermont. Both love the ocean and the mountains, so they feel fortunate being able to live in what they consider two of the most beautiful areas of the US—which also are areas that understand diversity and acceptance. They appreciate the sense of community, and the support of music and the arts in both locations.
“We learn a lot about different artists from our “framily” in both places; there are subtle differences in taste which really helps to expand our musical horizons, too,” said Jacobs.
Bettenroo is back in Rehoboth through August 29 for their ‘home tour.’
Most local music lovers are quite familiar with the rock band GirlsRoom. The all-female group plays frequently at local venues plus an occasional private party.
GirlsRoom was officially formed in February 2020 when lead singer Barb Phillips reached out to Terri Brady on Bandmix.com, a website that matches up musicians, because she wanted to start a band. Brady mentioned that her sister, Jill, was the former drummer of The Girlfriends, a band that Phillips loved. Jill was putting together GirlsRoom with Terri and with Kathy Nace-Jones. The pieces all fell into place among the women and GirlsRoom became a reality. Phillips says that meeting was one of the highlights of her life.
“Our first showcase was to be on March 16, 2020,” says Phillips. “We all know what happened on that date with the shut down, so we waited until September 2020 for our first gig, at Frantic Music in Milton.” They have been busy ever since.
Nace-Jones left the group in December 2022, and in February 2023, GirlsRoom 2.0 regrouped with Lois McDuffee and Glenda Diem. McDuffee and Diem didn’t know each other until they met at their first rehearsal. The newcomers had to learn more than 50 songs in two months, “We present a variety of music from past decades to current hits that appeal to dancers,” says Diem. “Keeping our music fresh is salient. Weekly three-hour rehearsals keep us finely tuned.” Phillips mixes up the set lists.
The Brady sisters, McDuffee, and Diem all do vocals throughout their extensive playlist. Songs are suggested by all the band members. “If it’s danceable and we think we can all cover it, we’ll try it. If we like it, we keep it,” said Phillips.
All GirlsRoom musicians have extensive experience.
Jill Brady began playing drums at age 10 for the Media, Pennsylvania, Fawns Drum & Bugle Corp. Her first band was an all-female one called Liberty 1920. The band performed along the east coast in the mid-70s. She played in various bands around Philadelphia and joined The Girlfriends in 1983, touring along the east coast. “When Girlfriends disbanded, I really felt inclined to form a new all-female band,” said Jill. GirlsRoom jump-started her new journey.
Terri Brady also loved music from a young age. She started with acoustic guitar and percussion. Eventually, she found her niche, the bass guitar, while playing with the Natalie Darkes band, and has been known to “rock it out” on percussion with her sister Jill on any Santana song.
McDuffee plays several instruments, including the clarinet, mellophone bugle, and baritone horn, but says her first and greatest loves are singing and playing guitar. Originally self-taught, she took lessons from Steuart Smith, former guitarist for the Eagles, and jazz guitarist Ken Navarro.
Diem began her musical career in New York City, with the all-female band Girly Action. The trio played at The Village Music Hall, and other local haunts. She did a stint at Jazzmobile, where she studied guitar. For a change of pace, she sat in pit bands for theatrical performances on Broadway.
“Encouraging audience participation adds that personal touch,” adds Diem. “Music enlivens the spirit GirlsRoom delivers. Fans are the magic. We are the music. Personally, I love sharing the universal language of music because it brings joy to many.”
Mama’s Black Sheep
Once you hear Mama’s Black Sheep, you realize that you have heard some of the best music around. Ashland Miller and Laura Cerulli are the two creative and talented women who comprise this local band. The harmonies you experience; the driving drum beats and melodious guitar notes simply allow you to sit back and enjoy.
On their start as a group, they say, “We met in 2001 at a festival where we were playing in different projects. We started collaborating musically and did some studio work and touring together in various bands. Mama’s Black Sheep was formed in 2008 and we’ve been touring full-time together since then. We have always considered ourselves the black sheep of our respective families and wanted to put ‘black sheep’ in the name of the band. There was already a band called The Black Sheep and one called Black Sheep Band, so we decided putting ‘Mama’s’ in front of ‘black sheep’ added a feminine element to the name, and sort of sounded like a good band name. However, neither of our mothers think we are the black sheep of the family!”
These musicians make St. Croix their winter home in February and March each year. Their aggressive schedule reflects their dedication to their craft. St. Croix became a destination for Mama’s Black Sheep from Miller’s time with a previous band that played there. Once she and Cerulli got together, they vacationed there. It was a natural draw for a musical return to the island they loved.
And it’s not just about music. As they share, “St. Croix holds a very special spot in our hearts, and we do what we can to give back to this place that has been so welcoming and supportive of us. While on-island we generally perform charity events helping adults/kids/families in need, animals, and the environment. For the past several years we’ve also hosted an underwater and land clean-up at the Frederiksted Pier, a world-renowned scuba diving site.
“For the past two years we’ve had the great pleasure of playing the farewell party of the CAMP Rehoboth Women’s FEST weekend along with [other dear performers]. These shows have both been memorable and fun for us not only because we get to play music with our friends, but also to see the women’s community of Rehoboth, including many who travel in for Women’s FEST each year to support the festival, CAMP Rehoboth, and the many programs they offer.”
Deb Bievenour, of Off 24, has special insight into Mama’s Black Sheep. She occasionally sings “7 Bridges Road” with them. Her take on Cerulli and Miller is this: “They are very talented musicians and songwriters. I have followed them for years. It all started at the Pond downtown; we all looked forward to when the Sheep would come and play. Laura is amazing on percussion and singing. Her voice is like no other voice. It’s hard to believe the sound she gets out of this little drum set that she has put together. I love watching Ashland play guitar. She has such a beautiful sound and I love her southern twang that she adds.”
If you have not yet done so, make it a point to hear that twang—and great music—soon!
As you see these three women performing, you will get to know (left to right) Deb Bievenour (known as the Beave), Kaye Sullivan, and Lisa Balestrini Faber. None of the three members of this group are native to the Rehoboth area. Quite by accident, they all settled here in proximity to one another—Off Route 24!
Balestrini Faber is a retired attorney, having grown up in the Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, area. She is married to her best fan, Karen. Sullivan, retired from management and HR, recalls how she made her first guitar out of wood and rubber bands as a young girl in Baltimore. Her partner lives in Spain, and they exchange trips back and forth to keep their relationship nurtured. Beave grew up in York, Pennsylvania, and is still employed in sales. She got her first guitar from her mother licking and pasting S & H Green Stamps! Beave is married to Sue, who handles the band’s equipment.
All three played guitar years ago and knew the same core set of songs. They enjoyed being together just for fun. The time it took to rehearse and do some fine-tuning was not a problem, as all this came about in the spring of 2020, the early days of COVID, and time was plentiful.
After playing around at this new gig, Beave, Sullivan, and Balestrini Faber decided to invite some friends over to listen to them jam. That paved the way for a few deck parties, and word began to spread.
The jump Off 24 needed to move from backyard gigs to serious stage presence came when Beave was asked if they were simply a deck party-type of band, or whether they had higher aspirations. It took her all of two seconds to point toward the nearby stage and said, “That is where we want to be!” They were soon booked to play at Big Chill Beach Club.
The average patron does not realize how dependent performing groups are on good equipment, not only to generate sound, but also to enable the band members to hear themselves as they perform. That was one early discovery Off 24 made when they played at the Beach Club. It was apparent that they needed to upgrade, and quickly.
No group of musicians can just take the stage and perform; lots has to happen behind the scenes first. Off 24 has each role unofficially defined. Beave is the manager, Sullivan is the producer, and Balestrini Faber is the “muscle” and legal analyst. Though they have been performing publicly for a couple years now, they feel like they are just getting started.
Their sense of humility is evident as they pay homage to the professional musicians in the area. Balestrini Faber shared that they are cohesive and doing well for a relatively new band. Beave stated that their resume is more extensive than it used to be. New venues are now seeking to fill their band slots with Off 24.
Considering the way in which these women met, their early love of playing guitar, and their passion for singing, it is no wonder that they have become a regular part of the stage presence in the Rehoboth area. Through happenstance—or perhaps by some greater design—Beave, Sullivan, and Balestrini Faber make beautiful music together. And they live…Off 24! ▼
David Garrett, a CAMP Rehoboth Board member, is a straight advocate for equality and inclusion. He is also the proud father of an adult trans daughter. Email David Garrett at email@example.com.
Mary Jo Tarallo is a former journalist and public relations professional for various non-profits including a ski industry trade association. She won a Gold Award for a United Way TV program starring Oprah Winfrey.