Who knew that five talented women, each with their own accomplished and diverse musical backgrounds, could get together and flawlessly make musical magic together?
Formed just a year ago, Foxes in the Henhouse are a Petaluma-hatched all-female band that started out as a one-time thing, but is now taking on a life of its own.
"We have such a wealth of incredible professional musicians in this town, so I got this idea, mainly a philanthropic thing, to throw a small band of women together to play at the V-Day Petaluma &‘Vagina Monologues' last year," said group founder Pamela Joyce. "It was just for fun and I thought we'd work up a few tunes and do just this one performance."
With an all-woman band in mind, Joyce began putting her Petaluma-musician wish list together of who she'd want to work with, and came up with jazz singer Elaine Lucia, folk-bluegrass singer Kathy Mezger, bass player and vocalist for the Artifacts Dorian Bartley and violinist Jeanette Isenberg.
Joyce has been performing in Sonoma County for the past 30 years. She's best known for her bluesy vocals in the bands D'Bunchovus and FunkSway. She's a rhythm guitar player, and also plays ukulele, harmonica, cajon and has even picked up the washboard.
Lucia has been singing professionally and playing guitar since age 12. She's been fronting her own jazz bands for many years and has released three CDs. She recently opened a show for Michael Bolton in Napa.
Mezger has been singing since high school and has played with many prominent Portland and Eugene, Ore., jazz musicians. She's also performed with a women's band called Wolf Creek, playing bass and singing country, folk, bluegrass and swing.
Bartley has played upright bass and sung with bluesy-Americana music trio the Artifacts for about 16 years.
Isenberg, a good friend of Joyce, has a classical background and has played violin for the Santa Rosa Symphony.
"I sent e-mails out to all the girls about V-Day Petaluma coming up and wanting to put some music together," said Joyce. "I got e-mails back immediately with &‘Yes! When can we get together?' So, we started meeting at my house on Monday evenings to put together a few tunes, have a little wine and a few noshes. There were plenty of giggles and laughs. We were just having way too much fun."
Amid the instant bonding of the four women came a very pleasant surprise.
"We discovered that our voices, though all very different, were just beautiful together in harmony," said Joyce. "It was the kind of harmony that gives you goosebumps. So, long story short, the gig for the &‘Vagina Monologues' went over so well and we had such a good time that we decided to continue this getting together on Mondays nights to play music, and see where this all goes."
A friend of Lucia's suggested the band name, Foxes in the Henhouse, which Joyce said "was a perfect fit and ties into Petaluma and us being all hometown gals."
Over the past year, Foxes in the Henhouse has played a handful of gigs around town. Their music is a mix of cover tunes from a variety of musical styles to some original music by the band's resident songwriter, Lucia.
"We have a blending of everyone's different styles," said Joyce. "We can easily go from a pop tune to a really deeply rooted bluesy tune to bluegrass and even gospel. We play a lot of traditional music. Elaine is the writer in the band, so we do a number of her originals. She can write some really tasty stuff."