Parents Who Rock
They’re playin’, playin’ in the band
Patty Lou Weber Perry sings for Bob’s Your Uncle.
Photo by Karen Morneau
On any given Saturday night, Fairfield County bars and restaurants rattle and hum with live music and dancing hordes singing along with the band. But it’s not just the kids who are rocking out—it’s also their parents.
Among those parents are Dan Berg, Patty Lou Weber Perry, and Geoff Schneider, musicians, parents, and business professionals who exude charisma and stage presence while performing in their respective bands. If you ran into them at the Village Market or a school function, you probably wouldn’t guess that they had loyal fans who flock to their live shows.
In fact, all three of these musicians work in either the finance or technology fields, and cite the “right-brain” balance that music brings to their careers in scientific and math-related disciplines. Schneider says, “For me, playing music is a complete release from the hours spent relying on the left-brain focus of my job.”
Not simply reminiscing about halcyon days jamming with friends and making pocket money by performing their favorite songs, these over-40 rockers say goodbye to their analytically focused days when the sun goes down. After family dinners, homework help, or doing a load of laundry—they head out to jam sessions or gigs.
Berg (pictured left) plays bass and sings lead vocal in several musical combos, but his main band, Vertigo, plays a “big, bouncy mix of rock, funk, and disco” in venues from Wilton to Stamford. “Being in a band keeps me young and sane,” he says. “It’s a core part of me at this point, and I can’t imagine not playing music.”
Perry’s band, Bob’s Your Uncle, may be best known in Wilton as the “house band” at the annual Ambler Farm Day. They also play at the Georgetown Saloon, Lumber Yard, Redding Roadhouse, and Bobby Q’s, in addition to private parties. Perry’s vocals are a melodic counterpoint to her band’s harmonies and rock riffs, and she says they frequently get asked to perform crowd favorites ranging from Simon & Garfunkel to The Rolling Stones.
Schneider (pictured right) plays guitar in the popular Grateful Dead tribute band, Terrapin, which plays an impressive 50-odd shows a year between New Haven and Manhattan. Playing Dead covers as well as original tunes “definitely helps balance out my life as a venture capitalist, a husband, and a father,” he says.
These three musicians still have at least one child under 18 at home. They work full time and volunteer on the side, and say that their home-front duties take top priority. Each is emphatic that their family comes first, always. But each also cherishes the outlet that playing music provides, and all stated that entertaining and making sure their audience is having fun are the main reasons they perform.
For Berg, this means their set lists include only songs that “everyone knows, and it has to be fun for us, too. Anything goes—from the ’60s through what’s playing on the radio today.”
During a recent roundtable discussion, the trio, who have not played together, fell into a comfortable rhythm natural to musicians. They asked each other questions about venues (“What’s it like to play there?”), sharing methods of set-list creation and anecdotes about gigs gone by. One could easily envision them onstage together.
Luckily, the bands that these three are involved in don’t need to rely on publicists to get them booked. Bob’s Your Uncle was hired to play at a wedding not too long ago, which was parlayed into a corporate gig. They have a strong word-of-mouth network that keeps fans apprised of where they’ll be playing next. Perry says, “We can’t accept every offer we get. We have to check our calendars far in advance.” Terrapin has two bookers to juggle its calendar. And for Vertigo, a grassroots approach to staying in touch with particular venues allows them to accept gigs when the band’s schedule, but on a bit more formal basis.
Berg, Perry, and Schneider prove that “Playing in the Band” isn’t just a song. It’s a vital part of a musician’s life, and a way to keep their creative souls fed. While none has plans of packing up a vintage VW bus and going on the road, there will always be time for jams with friends. And in the words of Jackson Browne, the sentiment at the end of most shows is: “People stay—just a little bit longer” because: “We want to play—just a little bit longer.”