There is an adage in the music business: “When the musicians on stage are clearly having a good time, so does the audience.”
That is certainly true of Gyrlband, a quartet of women who will be having a good time celebrating their seventh anniversary on Friday, June 21, at Freddie’s Tavern in Ewing Township.
The group was the idea of Bucks County-based singer-songwriter Lisa Bouchelle, no stranger to the Trenton-Princeton-area nightclub and coffee house scene.
While she is the only full-time musician in the band, she heaps praise on her bandmates.
“The greatest thing about Gyrlband is we’re a democracy. We all bring our own talents to the band, including original songs, but then everybody adds to it and puts icing on the cake to our sound,” says Bouchelle on the patio at Hamilton’s Nottingham Tavern, where she is joined by the group’s newest member, drummer Dori Sabella.
“It’s kind of like we’re four best friends. We’re sisters. We have four strong women in the band, yet it has lasted,” Bouchelle says, adding that those early critics who said Gyrlband wouldn’t last were wrong.
Sabella, who will also be singing backup harmonies, agrees when Bouchelle says, “What sets us apart are our three-part harmonies. It’s one of our specialties.”
The other members of Gyrlband, who switch off on lead vocals, are Trenton-raised guitarist-songwriter Kim Yarson and Bordentown-area keyboardist-songwriter Sandy Zio.
Like Bouchelle, both have been performing solo or with their own groups for years.
Unlike the band members with area roots, Sabella grew up on Long Island. Her connection to the Gyrlband is drummer Joe DeAngelo
In addition to taking Sabella on as a student in 2006, DeAngelo supported the early manifestation of the Gyrlband while they searched for a woman drummer.
“I came out to see Joe play, as I often did when I was taking lessons from him, down on Long Beach Island, and he introduced me to the girls,” she says.
Sabella came to the area after dropping out of C.W. Post College in Long Island, working as a massage therapist, and then enrolling at St. Francis Medical Center School of Nursing in Trenton. She now works for Penn Medicine in Plainsboro in their homecare division.
“I always wanted to be a drummer but was never able to pursue it until I was an adult,” Sabella says. The reason, she continues, was because she was a girl. So she played bass trombone instead.
Sabella, the youngest of three sisters, says her postman father and her chorus girl mother encouraged her musical efforts. She also credits DeAngelo as a local inspiration.
The idea to form Gyrlband came just before one of Ernie White’s annual Christmas concerts at an area radio show with Danny Coleman, host of the internet radio show “Rock On Radio.”
Bouchelle says, “I took Sandy and [Bouchelle’s manager] Hal Selzer to the radio show and Kim Yarson was also there. We took a break, and it dawned on us we should form a band of our own, all women, because we were all lead singers and we could take turns and trade off on harmonies.”
They decided at that time that Yarson would play guitar and Bouchelle would play bass.
For their live shows Yarson or Zio will write a set list, but they say if the crowd wants something different, they can often pull off requests on the spot and will adjust to the crowd and the atmosphere.
Guitarist Yarson, who now lives in East Windsor, was raised on Elmer Street in Chambersburg, Trenton. Her mother, who worked for the state Department of Environmental Protection, supported the family after her father died in an accident when Yarson was four.
Yarson works as a dental hygienist, but she also has 25 years of song writing experience, released her first album in 2009, and has recorded three other discs of originals since then. She is also continuing her musical education through the Berklee College of Music’s online program.
Yarson says she is also interested in getting her songs placed in films and TV. Her biggest placement so far has been a song that was used on the soap opera “The Young and the Restless.”
She also mentions her family. She’s been married for 22 years to Paul Jakubicki, an engineer, and has two sons, Joe, 16, who plays guitar, and Thomas, 13, who is interested in writing.
A trip to Nashville in 1994 and attending ‘Songwriters-in-the-Round’ styled shows inspired Yarson to begin writing her own tunes.
“I was writing poetry at the time and fell in love with the process of songwriting,” she says. “Before you know it, I bought a book on songwriting and I was off and running. It was a journey of constant learning. I didn’t know how to play guitar in 1994, so I learned. Then it was learning piano, and then co-writing with lots of people. I’m a quick learner.”
Keyboardist and singer Sandy Zio, who lives in Bordentown, says she also has been writing her own songs for a long time. That include her early piano lessons, at seven, at her parents’ house in Kinnelon, Morris County, where both her parents were real estate brokers.
She says for years the songs were private. Then she saw Alice Leon’s band, After Alice, perform and was inspired to pursue her own gigs.
“There was a period in my life for six years when I didn’t have cable TV. I wrote a lot of my songs then,” says Zio who works by day in IT at McGuire Air Force Base. “Now I need to turn my cable off again.”
As a young adult she took piano lessons from Highland Park-based jazz pianist John Bianculli and credits him for teaching her a lot about blues and jazz.
“Billy Joel was always a huge inspiration for me,” she says, “and John Bianculli played a big part as well.”
Mixing classic rock favorites with original music written by Yarson and Zio suggests a balance about what to play and who should play it.
“We’re always talking about that,” says Zio. “What song should we do next? There’s always a lot of chatter on stage. We’re women, after all. We’re not the type of band that plays one song after another. There’s a lot of banter. Our shows are free-spirited and free-wheeling, so we’re open to lots of different directions.”
Gyrlband 7th Anniversary Show, Freddie’s Tavern, 12 Railroad Avenue, Ewing. Friday, June 21, 8 to 11 p.m. No cover. www.facebook.com/gyrlband