HANCOCK?- When Jo Serrapere sent music critic and Creem Magazine co-founder Dave Marsh her solo record, Marsh found that he really liked it and played it on his Sirius radio show.
"He interviewed me over the phone, and when off air he mentioned that he'd like to hook me up with his friend, Larry Eagle, who was a musical director for Bruce Springsteen's 'Seeger Sessions'?record," Serrapere said in an email interview. "He said we could come out to NYC and he'd put us up and help fund the recording."
But Serrapere had just released a solo record and didn't have enough material that she liked to do another one.
Photo courtesy Stella!
The ladies of Stella! enjoy a cup of tea in this promotional photo. Stella! will be playing at 8:30 p.m. Saturday June 7 at The Orpheum Theater.
"So I?thought it would be fun to put together another girl band, but this time make it songwriter-oriented,"?she said. "I?started a band called Uncle Earl awhile back but it was more traditional old time string band music."
Serrapere needed to put together a band and she needed to do it posthaste.
"The first person I?thought of was my friend and fiddle player, Tamineh Gueramy. She was playing with (songwriter and multi-instrumentalist)?Jen Sygit at the time and thought she would be a great addition,"?Serrapere said. "I?liked her voice and writing. Katie Grace was playing bass with Jen and Tam so I asked if she would join. They seemed interested and were excited to have an adventure in New York, but Tam moved to Austin and Katie to Nashville. So Jen suggested we hire Laura Bates. That's when?I?met her. She had just picked up the bass but was already a trained musician in piano and flute."
Fiddler, songwriter and classical violist, Diana Ladio, also accompanies Stella!
One of the things that Serrapere enjoys most about the band is that she loves being in a band with women.
"We have some pretty graphic conversations that would make boys blush," Serrapere said. "And one of the important discussions about an upcoming show is, 'What are we wearing?' That's so refreshing."
The band is also at least somewhat familiar with the Upper Peninsula having played at the Woodtick Music Festival two years ago.
"I also play a couple times per year with my own trio (which includes Laura Bates and my partner, John) at the Chamberlin's Old Forest Inn in Curtis,"?she said.
The response from the audiences that have seen Stella! perform has been good.
"Who doesn't love girls and banjos? And if people like our sense of humor, it's better,"?Serrapere said. "I'm a psychologist from Detroit, so I?have a bit of a dark sense of humor. All my songs are about sex and death. Laura went to Bible college so I?tease that she's better and more righteous than Jen and I. But we really adore and respect each other,"?she said.
Right now there are no concrete plans for a new album from?Stella! but it's in the works.
"We hope to start working on another record soon,"?Serrapere said.
Stella! will play Saturday, June 7 at The Orpheum Theater in Hancock. The show begins at around 8:30 p.m.