For one family, the rhythm of life beats in every room
Photos by Douglas Foulke
The Coe family has music thumping through their veins, and its effects course through their bright, open home in the Stratfield section of town. Evidence of their musical accomplishments and memorabilia are on display everywhere. Even their hardwood floors, highlighted by musical note inlays, bear witness to the tunes they say can always be heard in their home.
In 2005, David and Staci Coe and their sons, Zac and Dylan, moved into the house, which they also share with their golden retrievers, Quincy and C.K. The Coes added onto the home and customized it to accommodate their needs. Staci, who has a pet-sitting business called Dog Day Afternoon, says that putting in a pool to relax around as a family was really important since they aren’t able to get away very much. “Our lifestyle is not nine-to-five. Weekends are work weekends,” says Staci. “There’s always a rehearsal, or there’s always a gig.”
The family is always making some kind of music, whether it involves jamming in the big rock-and-roll room in the basement or playing at an engagement. “This is what I do for my living, teach and perform,” David says. “So it’s my whole day.” He says since the age of ten, he wanted to play the guitar. Now he has an extensive collection of them—like the pink-paisley Fender Telecaster in their family area or the Koa wood acoustic guitar from the late 1890s, which David says he found at a tag sale and sometimes hangs outside, under their covered porch.
“It’s easier to have them hanging up than tripping over them,” says Staci with a laugh.
“I love all my guitars,” adds David, who has been sharing his passion for playing the guitar, as well as piano, through private lessons in town for over 25 years. He also teaches at Fairfield University. In addition to his role as a music educator, he has written two music-method books, recorded two solo CDs and has played with the band, Leigh Henry and Celebration, for over 20 years. Over the course of his career, he has opened for iconic artists such as Elton John, James Brown, and Wilson Pickett.
But it is not his long list of achievements David is eager to talk about—it is his children’s. His face lights up when he talks about his oldest son, whom he describes as “insanely talented.” Zac, who will be a junior at Colgate University, is already creating the type of résumé many performers dream about. In high school, Zac was the drummer in the band of the all-teen Broadway musical, 13. Hundreds of kids auditioned. “They were all good,” recalls David, “so the kids they did end up picking were just extraordinary.” The playbill and other mementos from the show are impossible to miss in the Coe’s kitchen/family room.
Zac has also touched the film-side of show-business. When his uncle, Anthony Tambakis, a writer and Fairfield native, co-wrote the mixed-martial-arts film, Warrior, released last year, Zac suggested a song by the band, The National, which was used in the film.
The college student is also focused on his own band, The All-About, which just put out its second album. But Zac is not pursuing a degree in music or theater. Instead, he is majoring in English with an emphasis on creative writing. “The music industry can be rather unforgiving. And so it felt like a good idea to go to a school that’s not necessarily a music school but a great academic school and pursue some academic interests just to kind of round myself out,” says Zac.
While Zac focuses on drums, percussion, singing, and song-writing, his younger brother, Dylan, a fourth-grader, plays string bass and electric bass. “My dad and I have found that bassists are always hard to come by,” says Zac, “If he keeps up the bass, he’ll be in a really good position when he gets to high school because everyone will be calling him.” Father and sons learn from each other. David will give his boys pointers and share his thoughts. Zac plays demos for his dad and helps him with the Internet. “It’s all very collaborative,” says Zac.
Working together on music is something that seems to have been passed down from generation to generation in this family. In the foyer of the Coe’s home is a photograph from the 1920s of David’s grandfather, band-leader at a Bridgeport theater called the Ritz Ballroom. David’s grandmother was the pianist for the house band. “All of the big acts of the day would come through and play there,” says David, whose mother still has the piano scores that her parents used in that band.
“It’s cool to see the thread of music that runs through our family,” says Zac with pride.
Staci may not be a musician like her husband and sons, but her love of music is apparent in the design of the house. In lieu of a formal dining room, the home boasts a formal music room. In addition to the rehearsal space in the basement, the music room upstairs contains a gorgeous piano that was willed by a dear family friend. “That wins out over a dining room table any day,” says Staci.
The Coe home may revolve around music, but it is clearly built on a foundation of love and support. “It’s really comforting,” says Zac. “Being a musician, as my dad could also tell you, at times it’s really rewarding and at times it’s really defeating, and it’s really nice to have this space and to have a family that’s always going to support you in your musical endeavors and your creative endeavors.”
To listen to David Coe’s music:, davidcoe.bandcamp.com
To listen to Zac Coe’s music: theallabout.bandcamp.com.