The music rolls and rolls in Centre County, and where it stops is anybody’s guess. This summer our local scene has yielded a ton of new music, and that’s a beautiful thing.
So often, it seems the musicians in our area rotate in and out of different configurations, effectively drifting in and out of each other’s lives at the same time. They play for a few months doing a weekly gig, they reunite with longtime collaborators, they say goodbye to those who are no longer in their musical soul group. Or maybe they simply fall in love and their musical landscape goes from darkness to light, even if only temporarily.
Natascha & the Spy Boys is a great example of a Centre County band that features a slew of talented musicians who appear in more than one act around town. So, because they are making it in more ways than one, it’s safe to say that the band rocks. It features frontwoman Natascha Hoffmeyer on vocals, John “JT” Thompson on keys, Doug McMinn on clarinet and sax and Stubby Stubbs on drums.
The band is currently working on recording its first CD.
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“I’m hoping to have my friend Eleanor Norton — a cellist who’s played with Adele and Alan Cummings, among others — play on my ballad “’Maybe,’ ” Hoffmeyer said. “Robert Wayne Kloutz is our sound engineer, who is helping us put it all together at the Penn State School of Music recording studio.”
Like a lot of local projects, money is tight. So, in a similar way as Chris Rattie did a few months ago to fund his album, “Porch,” Natascha & the Spy Boys are turning to Indiegogo to raise money for the recording, mastering and production costs.
“We’ve been in the studio for a few weeks now,” Hoffmeyer said, “but we still (have) some work ahead of us. ... We are grateful for any contributions to help our project along.”
The project doesn’t have a name yet, but it’s shaping up to be awesome. I got a chance to listen to some Natascha & the Spy Boys music recently, and it’s swingy, loungy and energetic. Even a relatively plodding tune like “Bad Girl” moves with two feet, thanks to Hoffmeyer’s rich vocals and a crisp, brisk, sonorous bass line. If the new music is anything like that song, then we’re all in for a real treat.
The band has some performances coming up locally, while it is simultaneously in the studio. On Saturday, you can catch them at Chumley’s from 8-10 p.m. For information on upcoming shows, visit www.nataschaandthespyboys.com/shows and the band’s Facebook page.
Whether you get to hear the band live or your first listen is the new album that is in the works, one thing certain is you will catch Hoffmeyer’s approach to the music.
“I’m not sure that I have a philosophy of music,” she said. “To me, philosophy means something cerebral, whereas my approach to music is more visceral. This goes for my own songwriting as well as choosing songs that I want to play with my band. Music speaks to me on a deeply emotional level. ... I get inspired by melodies and lyrics from the ’20s and ’30s as much as from the ’80s, ’90s and ’00s. Great songs are timeless, I think, and can be interpreted with new verve again and again.”
Kevin Briggs is a musician, writer and teacher who performs at venues throughout central Pennsylvania. Contact him at KevinTBriggs@gmail.com.