Emerging Artist Series – Night One


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By Peter Banker

Well, it’s on. We have our Emerging Artists and are set for this Saturday, April 30 at 7:00 Upstairs at the Harvard General Store.

And as the days have passed and in the planning Wendy and I have done, our eyes are becoming wide open to the possibilities that this venue, this event and those beyond it have as a potential for artists, like ourselves to have our work heard and appreciated. In our quest to expand our horizons, we have targeted other larger venues and have found it not entirely easy to break in. It’s not impossible if you have a good product, but we have come to know that it’s going to take some time, patience and dedicated work for our vision to become reality, which it will. This event, we hope, will open some eyes to our work and also the work of two additional local artists, both of whom are very accomplished and further ahead of us in their musical journey.

One is Aidan O’Brien, a young man who I met many, many years ago at an outdoor music festival in Trumansburg, NY called Grass Roots. He was…about 7 and was in the camping area playing a guitar that looked enormous in his little hands, but there he was…for three consecutive days, playing that thing and hugging it like it was his best friend. And, damn it, he was good. Even then. Now, of course, he’s really good, has been in several successful bands and has an entire trove of songs he’s written and covered. Just wait. He’s the real deal. That guitar has never left his side and has proven to be faithful friend.

The other is Mike Kelly. Wendy and I met him at Slater’s Pizzeria and he runs an open mic there on Thursdays, one in which we played early when Wendy Darling and the Lost Boy were just getting started and he was encouraging from the start. A couple of weeks ago when we asked him to play at the Emerging Artist Series, he was on board immediately, telling us that it was a great idea, that he’d be glad to be a part of it. What Wendy and I didn’t quite know then was how accomplished he is. Like Aidan, he’s had an instrument in his hand from the beginning and has, over the course of his young life played with James Montgomery, James Cotton, Johnny A., J. Geils, David, Maxwell, GE Smith, Paula Cole, Trombone Shorty, Joan Osborne, Simon Kirk, Barry Goudreau, The Uptown Horns, and others. He is an excellent song writer and musician in his own right and you’ll love him. (website: www.thebrotherstereo.com).

What are these two doing at the Harvard General Store? Just sharing their music. They, like Wendy and I, just want to play. It’s such a blast, you should know, and it will be a pleasure to play alongside these two for all of you.

Do show up on time and bring as many people with you as possible. We’re trying to fill the place and to fit in as much music as we can. More importantly, Wendy Darling and the Lost Boy are on first; you do not want to miss that…. No way. We are emerging, baby, and want to share our love of what we do with all of you on that night and, hopefully many others.(website: bankeP.wix.com/wendydarling).

See you there.

If you want a sneak preview of what you will see Saturday, check out the video links below.

Mike Kelly…..


Aidan O’Brien…


Wendy Darling and the Lost Boy…

Emerging Artist Series Coming to Harvard General Store

by Peter Banker



I’m unclear on the concept of fate of late and have only recently put it into question because of the drive I have to be the best musician I can be in the time that I have left. It’s come upon me late in my life, for certain. Those youngsters who sit in their bedrooms and play their instruments until their hands bleed, who–seemingly wayward–defy all societal and parental expectations and run toward the music—they are more brave—even smarter than many give them credit for. I’ve come to know that it’s not about becoming a rock star, but rather it’s just about improving; it’s about reaching into the music in an attempt to draw forth a temporary little piece of magic and, for me, it’s also in the collaboration that I share with Wendy in making songs come alive for an audience, big or small…..or even none at all, to be truthful.


A very good friend of the band, Donnie Phillips, recently put us in touch with Scott Hayward, the owner of the General Store in Harvard who, through conversation, is generously allowing for Wendy and I to run an open mic which will start in the next months. Prior to that monthly event, we are intending to run an EMERGING ARTIST SERIES, which will begin on Saturday, April 30th. This event will feature 3-4 acoustic groups who are trying to break in—not into the profession necessarily—but rather are ready and rehearsed to play and have engaging music they’d like to share.


We’d like your support on Saturday, April 30th at 7:00 p.m. Firstly, we’d like to show the General Store that the community would support an event like the Emerging Artist Series and then the open mic. For short money in an admission fee and in taking advantage of the good food and drink at the General Store, you can have a Saturday night of good music, good chatter and—a great scene. Secondly, if you feel as though you or someone you know fall into the category of an Emerging Artist (like Wendy and I do, for example), come forth and make a case for it and we’d love to hear you out and then give you a spot in the show. And do not fear it. That drive toward music I talked about earlier? I had it as a youngster and it was only fear that took me out of the practice room where I belonged and into a world of toil that I’ve never loved nearly as much. Please come on the 30th. It’d be great to play for you and to get this thing rolling in a venue that feels like a gift.


Covering Carly Simon

by Peter Banker

There are a number of reasons that Wendy and I work well together, but one of them is the deep respect we have for each other as friends and musicians. That’s important all the time, but becomes a little more so when one of us approaches the other with an idea to cover a song that—is un-coverable. Some tunes, in my view, should not be touched…by anyone, and certainly not by me. An early example came from Wendy when she proposed we try “Sympathy for the Devil” by the Rolling Stones, arguably the greatest rock tune ever written. I cringed at the thought of trying to capture the essence of that tune and shared my reluctance with Wendy as the effect those lyrics and Keith Richard’s solo has over me has not waned over time; when that song is on, I am at full attention and entirely inspired. I’d like to tell you that we’ve tried that tune, but we haven’t, and it’s my fault, and to Wendy’s credit, she hasn’t pushed it at all. At some point she may, but I remain honestly doubtful that we’ll make it come to life as it should. And that will be my fault too. My heart is not in it.

Now, just a week ago, Wendy sent another video, a live version of “That’s the Way I’ve Always Heard it Should Be,” another favorite from my childhood sung so beautifully and lyrically by Carly Simon in 1971 at the peak of her singing prowess. After listening to it, Wendy and I had the same conversation. Is it possible—should it even be legal to touch a song of this magnitude? I had some doubt, but Wendy really wanted to try it, so that gave me some hope– a lot of it actually. I could sense that she was going to make this one work. Her heart was in the right place. And it does work, in my view for a number of reasons.

The lyrics, you may remember, are incredibly poignant. Simon writes of parents and how “their children hate them for the things they’re not;/[and how]they hate themselves for what they are— “and for me it resonates a bit. It’s because of the fact that my children are getting such a kick and even some joy out of watching me express myself through music and it thrills me to be seen by them in this new light—a testament of sorts that one should never stop exploring and going after adventure or possibilities for individual growth. I hid my longing for it when they were younger and still don’t know why. And while I don’t “hate myself for what [I am]”, I wonder myself why I lacked the courage earlier in my life to take a stab at playing music. The song, one could say is also a skeptical look at marriage, all of the failings of relationships as they try to endure. I don’t really see it that way. The chorus says (in the midst of all the negativity) that “it’s time we moved in together/and raised a family of our own you and me/well, that’s the way I’ve always heard it should be/ you want to marry me…we’ll marry.” Pretty matter of fact, but also gorgeous. Truly is. It’s the leap we take in meeting love when it comes upon us—and it can at any point in our lives. The song tells us to jump in, and to go at it full force—because there’s a chance that love can beat it all. Take a listen. Wendy nails it in her very unique way because it’s clear that she believes it. Maybe you can too.


The Writing of “Blue Skies”


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By Wendy Saydah

writing blue skies blog

Some people have asked me about the evolution of the song, “Blue Skies,” how it came about, what inspired it, when it was written. With the advent of our Tiny Desk music video highlighting the song, it seemed like a good time to reflect on these questions and blog it out.

I wrote the first version of the song (formerly called “Nobody Knows About Me”) in 2008 at a time when I was working on songwriting as part of my guitar training with Greg Passler. The song is essentially about some of the deeper parts of myself that are kept hidden or not given a voice. These are the parts that are different, personal, vulnerable (nobody knows about me). The song also expresses an acceptance and even self love (dancing alone cause it feels so good) of these lesser known pieces and deals with the sadness of isolation by seeking out happy people (replacing the tears with your laughing eyes) and good times. In other words, blue skies.

I have written songs as far back as I can remember (using several tape recorders to lay down different tracks) and one thing I have noticed is this. At least for me, the best inspiration comes at times when I am not expecting it, not looking for it, not even trying. It is at these times that a feeling (and it always starts as a feeling as opposed to an idea or thought) begins to tug from deep inside. Most of the time, the emerging emotion gets ignored or pushed away in an attempt to deal with the day to day.  However, if it is not acknowledged immediately, it disappears, never to return, at least not in the same way. In the case of “Blue Skies,” the inspiration and the time lined up and I was able to sit down with my guitar and pen and let it come forth.

I was mostly happy with the song right away. It became one of my favorites, actually. So, when Peter and I began playing together and I started pulling out some of my old originals, this was one of the first ones I shared. I was a little worried at first that it would be too slow for us or maybe better played by one person. However, once Peter got a hold of it, he helped bring it to another level. He created a much better groove, added tasteful harmonies in just the right places, and threw in a few lines here and there. He really helped bring the song to life.

Once we had come up with a version of the song that we both liked, we recorded it and I had a listen. I immediately realized that the name, “Nobody Knows About Me,” no longer made sense and renamed the song “Blue Skies.” I am extremely optimistic and excited about the future of Wendy Darling and the Lost Boy. The possibilities are endless, the potential unlimited, and the skies…..well, the skies are definitely blue.

Tiny Desk Video Year 2 by Peter Banker

Recently Wendy and I submitted a video we made to NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest. They started the contest last year and, at that time, we submitted a video around Wendy’s song “Flowers”. This year, we decided to make a video for another song of Wendy’s called “Blue Skies” and it was a fantastic experience for a number of reasons. One was the fact that the videographer is a student of mine, Robert Moon, a senior at Weston High School. He’s a young man that I’ve always respected from afar, but gotten to know a little better in my classroom. It’s not been a great year for Robert as he has struggled with some issues outside the classroom, but one day he shared with my class some videos he had been making in his spare time and immediately I saw a chance to connect with him on this Tiny Desk Contest. After class I approached him about it and, after showing some surprise that I was in a band and so invested in it, he immediately agreed.

The student/teacher relationship is vital to effective teaching. Show a student some understanding and appreciation of what their life is like outside the confines of the classroom and they will do most anything in meeting you halfway. It’s that simple, but too many people in this profession are reluctant, even timid to reach out to students beyond what they are expected to do in the classroom and those teachers, in my view, are missing the best part. What Robert created, through his work with Wendy’s well-written song and our rendition of it, is really cool. It just is, and it captures the essence of the tune beautifully in addition to how much fun Wendy and I are having playing it. We must have played it thirty times that night in different places in the school and I never tired of it.

I hope it wins, no lie, but chances are slim. It’s a huge contest—hundreds and hundreds of entries. Winning is not the point though, because in taking on this project, both Wendy and I got to know a student much better and his potential is limitless. Robert’s production of the video shows that clearly. It also shows, at least to me, that there are no limitations in this venture Wendy and I have taken on. Who knows where it will lead us. The only limits, as we all know, are those we impose upon ourselves, and I’ve come to the point in my life where I just don’t see any anymore.

And it’s nice.

Enjoy it and tell us what you think.

Blue Skies by Peter Banker

Yesterday during practice, Wendy and I decided that, on occasion, I would put my voice to the blog. It makes perfect sense, really, and it’s because of the way we work together; each one of us brings something new to the practice every time and it’s always a pleasant surprise. No doubt this will be true of the blog as well.
Yesterday, for example, we had a long practice, but concentrated on two songs, one by Taylor Swift, something she wrote for the Hunger Games Soundtrack called Safe and Sound, and an original tune by Wendy called Blue Skies. Blue Skies was originally called Nobody Knows; it is a tune Wendy had written some time ago that she was willing to pull out of the dust in the hope that we could revive it together. A bit nervous (it’s always a little frightening to put forth something you care about), she played it for me at the end of a practice last week and immediately I liked it. There is so much being communicated in her lyrics and I always feel privileged to get a chance to put my touch on the way the song ends up. It’s a meandering process of creativity that works for us. We try a number of things, nod in agreement when something works or, in a lot of cases, simply take note of body language indicating that something isn’t quite right. And we pay attention to all of it, until such time that we find ourselves moving easily through a tune that has transformed into something that makes us smile. It’s always a great moment—a true joy—when, at the end of a song we’ve been working on for a long time, we hit the last chord and look at one another with the full knowledge that we’ve created something that we know people will enjoy.
As I said, Wendy changed the name of the song after our work on it to Blue Skies and it makes perfect sense. It’s all I can see, after all, in this partnership of music and friendship. I hope you enjoy the songs. They are both young in our repertoire, but here to stay.

Blue Skies – Original

Safe and Sound – Taylor Swift Cover

While My Blog Gently Weeps

A lot has happened since my last blog entry. In addition to Life’s big events (weddings, funerals, births, graduations, surgeries, vacations, birthdays, etc), the band has also been up to some fun endeavors.

We are very excited to have our first official CD in hand. The EP, titled Found, has 4 songs (3 covers and one original) and was produced with the goal of sharing music with family and friends but also to reach out to a larger community of listeners. We hope to use the CD to find more performing venues as well.

CD Cover

To listen to the tracks on the CD, click on the link below.


We had our first “photo shoot” with friend and amateur photographer, Diane Borton. What started as an informal information session, ended in these fun candid and posed photos.





We also had an amazing time performing at the Annual Braveheart Memorial Ride and Family Day on July 11. It was a beautiful event and the audience was awesome! We received lots of positive feedback and cool vibes all around. We continue to play at Fotini’s Restaurant in Bolton. We also had a fun night playing at the Starbucks in Harvard Square in June. We have plans for expanding to other venues this fall. I will post the calendar once it is finalized. Our set list has grown to over 50 songs and we are having a blast adding more each week.

Over the next couple of months, we will be working on incorporating more originals into our mix with time spent writing and arranging. If possible, we plan to go into the studio this fall to record our first Original CD.

Finally, we are hoping to experiment with a new video camera and thought it would be fun to shoot some songs in different cool and unique locations (suggestions welcomed). We’ll post these on our YouTube site as they are created.

So, even though I haven’t blogged, things are moving along and I can’t say enough about how much fun all this music business is. Although my blog may have been gently weeping, I most definitely am not.

The Making of a Tiny Desk Video


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DSC_0176Bob Boilen, Host of NPR’s All Songs Considered and Creator of the Tiny Desk Concert Series has come up with a new idea, The Tiny Desk Contest. For those of you not in the know, the Tiny Desk Concert Series, founded in 2008, is a series of intimate video performances at Bob’s desk. Some more famous musicians who have performed at the NPR headquarters include Cat Steven, Trey Anastasio, Adele, and T-Pain, among others. This year, however, Boilen has decided to open a contest to all musicians across the country in which the winner gets to play a Tiny Desk Concert as well as be flown to Austin, TX to perform at the Lagunitas/ CouchTrippin/ Showcase in March. Sounds like fun, right?!

Since fun is what we’re after, we decided to produce a video and enter the contest. We chose my original song, Flowers, and filmed it in the High School where Peter teaches. Andy joined us on bass and without a lot of time or preparation, this is what we came up with…

There were over 5,000 entrants. Many of them very creative and overflowing with talent (you can check more out at http://tinydeskcontest.npr.org/final). The competition is steep, but even if we don’t win, we had a blast putting it together. As Boilin states in his letter to all entrants, “My favorite part of all this is not any one performance, but the feeling that comes through again and again: that making a video was a creative blast and a memorable time with friends. Everyone seemed to capture the spirit of the contest.”

The winner will be announced on or around February 11th, and I’ll be sure to let you know the result.




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Our Annual New Year’s Day Party was as fun as always. For nearly 10 years (or more, I can’t remember), we have been having this gathering to celebrate the end ophotof the holiday season (phew!) and the beginning of a new year. (It is also my birthday but I don’t like to highlight that).

In addition to the cool and interesting people and tasty food and drink, there has been one element that is the hallmark of the party, Live Music. While my husband and daughters handle the details of party planning, I get to focus on what I love. Over the years, I have offered up a variety of acts from solo acoustic performances to full bands, the common denominator being that I get to play! I think that’s fair. After all, it is my birthday.

This year, I was very excited to play with Peter and also to bring in Rick Hess on drums and Andy Bollman on Bass. Andy and Rick were quick to get up to speed and really helped create a groove and round out the sound. We played for several hours and had a blast (as did the guests, I hope).

My daughter was able to capture a few of the songs on my ipad (quality not great but you get the idea). Here they are:

As far as New Year’s Resolutions go, here are mine:

Play More Music
Perform More Music
Sing More Music
Listen to More Music
Write More Music
Go to More Music Festivals
Learn More Music

Wishing everyone lots of music in 2015! Happy New Year.

Cat Stevens, Revisited.


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cat-stevens-tea-for-the-tillermanI first remember listening to Cat Stevens (born Steven Demetre Georgiou) in the spring of 1985 while in my Junior year at Ithaca College. My roommate, Jane, had his album, “Tea for the Tillerman” and would play it often. I was particularly captured by “Father and Son” and “Miles from Nowhere,” both songs that delivered the deeper meanings of life on a melodic wave of sound. Stevens’ tunes were insightful and harmonic. They made me think, feel, and listen. I never did buy any of his albums, and as I moved on, away from my college years and into a more digital age, I left his music behind.

Stevens also walked away from the music in 1977 when he decided to give up his career as a popular musician and convert to Islam. He changed his name to Yusuf Islam and focused his efforts on educational and philanthropic causes. Since then, he has received several awards for promoting peace in the world including the World Award (2003), Man of Peace Award (2004) and the Mediterranean Prize for Peace (2007). It would be years, however, before I was to hear or even think about this iconic man again.

During a visit with my mother this fall, we had the good fortune of watching Harold and Maude, a 1971 film about a young man obsessed with death and his relationship with a 79 year old woman who teaches him that life is the most precious gift of all. Stevens’ music surfaces in the opening scene and continues throughout the movie. The soundtrack is 100% Cat Stevens (with the exception of one or two classical tracks). As soon as I heard the scratchy sound of needle on vinyl leading up to “Don’t Be Shy,” I was immediately propelled back to a different era. First to 1984, in my junior year apartment and then to the early 70’s when I was growing up. Both periods punctuated by feelings of freedom, independence, creativity, and thoughtful expression.

More recently, it has come to my attention that Stevens (or now Yusuf) has decided to revisit the music and embark on a full fledged American tour. He began releasing new albums in 2006 and just this year (2014) began his first tour since 1978.

Peter and I decided it was a great time to cover one of his tunes, and Peter brought “Longer Boats” to the table.

Here is our version.

We have since changed a few of the harmonies and are working on refining the arrangement and tempo. All the same, it is a great tune to sing out, “If You Want to Sing Out.” Enjoy.