Off 24 is Off and Strumming
We’re all familiar with teenage garage bands. Some of our favorite groups started that way. But how about a basement band? And bandmembers who haven’t been teenagers in quite a while?
That’s Off 24, a new local band with a huge following already, despite the group just getting together. In fact, their very first public performance was on August 13 at the Big Chill Beach Club overlooking the surf, sand, and Indian River Bridge. And they just happened to draw a crowd of over 200 people, who cheered and applauded and made it a wild night by the ocean.
So how did this happen?
The three band members, Deb (Beave) Bievenour, Kaye Sullivan, and Lisa Balestrini Faber all used to play solo or in bands, but that was a long time ago.
Lisa played guitar since age seven and in her time between college and law school played mostly solo gigs in gay bars. She had a blast. But that all stopped in 1993 when law school began. Beave started playing the guitar and singing at age 13, sang in church, and belonged to a couple of bands. But her guitar had been left to gather dust for the last 20 years. As for Kaye, she had the most recent band experience, but even that was several years ago.
So, they dusted off their instruments and had some fun in the basement. As the trio harmonized, Lisa remembers thinking “Hmmm, this doesn’t sound too bad.” In fact, it sounded pretty good. “We all really meshed and it was a lot of fun,” Kaye says.
From the basement, they moved to Kate’s deck, where friends came to listen a couple of times, gathering outside during COVID lockdown. “One night, we had about 30 friends listening to our deck band,” says Beave, “and we asked them for feedback.” While it was all really constructive, the upshot was feedback encouraging the trio to grow their experiment. “We were really pumped!” Kaye recalls.
“All of a sudden we had momentum,” says Lisa, which started to snowball when word spread through the pickleball community, women’s softball teams, and all manner of word of mouth.
What’s in a name?
In a natural progression, friends started asking them to play house parties and the group was launched. As Beave says, “It all happened so quickly we didn’t even have a name for the band. But pretty soon a friend suggested Off 24 because all three musicians live in communities off Route 24 in Sussex County. “The second she said it, we knew it was perfect. No more discussion,” remembers Kaye.
They started an Off 24 Facebook page and a friend, Deb Quinton, designed a logo. They were in business, off and playing. Their first paid gig was a big house party, followed by several more, including a July 4th party.
The next thing they knew, they got a call from the Big Chill Beach Club offering that August 13 booking. When the gals started to perform, slowly the audience swelled to over 200, mostly women. Beave, Lisa, and Kaye, shocked by the size of the crowd, played on, trying to hear their own voices in the outdoor tented venue and being stunned by the crowd. Kaye admits “We had no expectation we would fill the place; it was crazy!”
“That’s when we realized we had a really wonderful friend-fan base!” Lisa recalls.
Selfless support and future dates
All three women are quick to point out the incredible support they’ve received from the area’s established musicians. Advice on new equipment, publicity, and bookings came generously from big names like Christine Havrilla, The Girls’ Room, and more. “It’s a wonderfully supportive community,” Lisa says, “a beautiful situation.”
Following the Big Chill gig, Off 24 played at Iron Hill Brewery for a CAMP Rehoboth benefit, and when this issue hits the streets they will just have performed at Sydney’s in Milton. Next up for Off 24 is the CAMP Rehoboth Block Party on Sunday, October 10.
You know, the three of us all come from different places, different walks of life, but we gel really well,” says Kaye. “We love to harmonize,” adds Beave. “And all three of us are fans of each other,” Lisa says.
Harmony. Off 24 has it. You’ll be hearing more about them.▼
Fay Jacobs is the author of five published books and is touring with her one-woman sit-down comedy show, Aging Gracelessly.