Parents Who Rock
Flood Zone hits high mark with local fans
When the Flood Zone band named itself in 2012, its members, all Fairfield Beach area residents, had no idea their neighborhood would soon be under water due to Hurricane Sandy. Once a dubious title, the group’s label has since come to represent resilience, community spirit, and a solid bond between local families as well as good old-fashioned entertainment.
Flood Zone is comprised of six people—drummer Matt Sappern, keyboardist Brendan Kehoe, vocalist Keri O’Connor and Bob Melvin, guitarist Brian Henninger, and bass player Gray Peckham. With the exception of O’Connor, a stay-at-home mom of four, the band members all have professional positions in fields ranging from sales and naturopathy to computers and natural energy investment. Melvin, for example, is a sales rep for NBC’s The Golf Channel and recently “donated” the band as an auction prize for a Wounded Warrior fundraiser conducted through the network.
The six members first collaborated in a previous now-defunct band called The Rents, short for parents, which they all are—now of elementary and middle school children. The Rents often performed with the aim of raising funds for the Roger Sherman Elementary School PTA, which would ultimately benefit their children who were all enrolled there.
The Rents played together for three years—2009 to 2012—coming to “a logical conclusion,” as Peckham noted, when its leader Scott Williams, a professional musician, moved on to other projects. The six remaining members all lived in a FEMA-defined flood zone area, so that association as a band name seemed a natural. The group also broadened their mission to include playing occasional fundraisers for local charity causes.
“Our first gig as Flood Zone was a private party,” says Kehoe— “one week before Sandy. We had no inkling of the impending doom. And in our performances, Bob would shout things like ‘Prepare to be flooded’ and ‘The flood is coming’. We don’t say that kind of thing anymore. When Sandy hit, five out of our six houses were under water. Bob’s house was a total loss.”
Sappern said the band has developed a very loyal and enthusiastic fan base. “We have a great following and play venues like The Seagrape, Anna Liffey’s, private homes, Pequot Yacht Club, Jacky Durrell Pavilion, and the Harbor Yard Brewfest,” he explains.
One Zone “groupie” is Deann Zane, a stylist at HAIR of Fairfield. She and her husband, William, a fellow stylist, first became aware of the band at parent-teacher bashes at the Penfield and Jacky Durrell pavilions. About the pavilion events, Zane says, “Everyone would be dancing and other people from other schools started to hear about the group and wanted them to come play for them, too. Bob is super funny as a front man and Keri has a great voice. They should be playing at The Gathering of the Vibes fest.”
Zane added that Flood Zone’s spirit and energy helped everyone in the beach area get through the aftermath of Sandy. “When we were able to have our first party with them playing and there was a great sense of relief,” she says.
Flood Zone puts themselves in the R&B and Motown genre buckets, playing cover songs from artists like Bruno Mars, Steely Dan, Joe Cocker, Stevie Wonder, and Joe Jackson. “We are all over the place, playing songs that our fans remember and enjoyed when they were 6, as well as modern hits,” Henninger says.
What holds the crew together? “Our secret sauce is that we’re all friends and have each other’s backs,” Peckham says. “Also, the crowd is connected to the band and the band is connected to the crowd.” To that Henninger adds, “We’re a bunch of 40-somethings doing what we love. We all have serious careers and this provides a great outlet.”