It started as so many things do, as a great idea and an invitation from my friend, folk goddess Christine Lavin, to join her on tour to lend fun and support as she recovered from carpal tunnel in her wrist. Patty Larkin, Sally Fingerett and myself had our first gig with Chris at a funky little art gallery here in Chicago. It was so much fun that we agreed to stay on and go to California.
Now, musicians have a rule. If you’re not making a lot of money on a date, the hang has to be worth it, because sometimes a hang with great players and FUNNY people is priceless. The hang in the early days, before the group was even formed, was spectacular. We lost our blouses.
We were playing the infamous Birchmere in Alexandria, Va., when soundman Billy Wolfe popped in a DAT tape (high tech in those days) and recorded our set. It became our first of many CDs, but one of the best sellers. And The Four Bitchin’ Babes — a name recommended by the 15-year-old son of our agent — was born.
We hadn’t set out to be a band — we were just four solo performers who got together and played some gigs together and recorded — so, like in love, you ride the wave as long as you’re able. So after a time, Christine and Patty returned to their solo careers, and Grammy-winning songwriter Julie Gold, who can make you laugh ’til you beg for mercy, stepped in.
Julie is the most inspiring human being I know, and a New Yorker to the bone. When she could not bear being away from her beloved New York, or her cat, any longer, the amazingly gifted Debi Smith of The Smith Sisters stepped seamlessly into her spot. When Chris stepped out, the funny and talented Camille West hopped in with heels on! When it was time for me to switch things up, Suzy Roche sat on the third stool from the left. Then Nashville girl Nancy Moran jumped in strummin’. Cheryl Wheeler was also a Babe a couple of times.
And a few times, folk goddess Mary Travers sat in, most memorably at The Bottom Line in New York City. I first met Mary when I was 19 years old and opening for John Denver at Carnegie Hall. I remember her sweeping in to the very tiny dressing room at the top of the stairs of the infamous concert hall, complimenting me on a great set, and directing me to not change my clothes but to go immediately next door to The Russian Tea Room and celebrate! I was star struck and speechless. I saw her a few times after that, and I loved her passion for life and for the music.
Here is a picture of me with her and Sally.