your connection to The Boston Globe

Rockin' mamas

No desperate housewives, these women set suburbia to music

On a recent sunny afternoon, a pulsating rock 'n' roll beat emanated from a tidy Colonial-style house on an otherwise quiet street in Sharon.

The rhythmic sounds came not from neighborhood teens gathered around a boombox, or jamming after school. It came from four local mothers banging out tunes on electric guitars, drums, and keyboard.

The event at Lisa Yves' house was a regular practice session of a rock band that has begun to create a small buzz in Sharon.

Organized informally last year, HRT -- for Hormone Replacement Therapy, of course -- consists of seven members, six from Sharon and one who just moved to Canton. The women, who range in age from 34 to 45, are mostly stay-at-home mothers squeezing in time for the band between household routines like ferrying children to school and after-school games.

''We gave up all those hours of talking about our lives in Starbucks, and shopping, and we really put all our energy into our music," said lead guitarist Marlane Pinkowitz.

At first the women played simply for fun. But with the experience of an open mike appearance in Greenwich Village under their belt, and encouraged by friends and family, they performed last month before a crowd of about 200 at Backyard Jams, a studio in Stoughton. The response to the show was so positive that the women are now planning an October concert at a local theater, the details to be announced.

Their lyrics reflect who they are. Among their most popular original tunes: ''I Just Want a Nanny," ''I Hate My Family," and ''Six-String Stratocaster," in which they sing of a woman with ''a center-hall Colonial on a quiet cul-de-sac," with ''granite counter tops and a swimming pool in back." But all she wants, it turns out, is a ''six-string Stratocaster . . . She wants to play it really loud, so loud it will disturb ya, Cause she may be pushing 40 but she's rockin' in suburbia."

The songs ''point out some of the absurdities of our day-to-day life, some of the quirks of our world [that are] true for everyone around us," says member Andrea Lovett. ''They can relate to it and laugh."

Some members of HRT come from musical backgrounds. Yves, who sings and plays bass and keyboard, has taught and performed jazz music. But others are relative or complete novices. What they share is a love of rock music. Tammy Robbins has penned most of the lyrics, with Lovett also contributing. Yves sets the words to music.

''It's a great marriage: rock 'n' roll with lyrics that make a point and make you laugh," Robbins said. While their music is not intended for children, some of their biggest fans are their sons and daughters. ''They're awesome, so good," said Lovett's daughter, Johanna, 9, who said she finds it ''really cool that I have actually a rock star mom." Husbands are also supportive, even those who took a while to get used to the idea.

''I was beyond skeptical," Robbins's husband, Alan, confessed. But he said he liked the sound of the group, and when he saw them in concert, ''They wowed me."

Yves and Pinkowitz got the band going last year. Pinkowitz, a former high-tech saleswoman and ardent rock fan, knew just a couple of guitar chords, but had long dreamed of playing rock music. She persuaded her friend, already trained on keyboard and vocals, to take guitar lessons with her.

The two met Robbins when they took the spinning class that she teaches part-time at the Canton Club fitness gym. The three started hanging out at a nearby Starbucks after their workouts. One day, when they were at Yves's home, then in Easton, Pinkowitz picked up an electric guitar. Yves went to the piano and Robbins sat down at a set of drums. On a whim, they started playing a 1960s classic by the McCoys, ''Hang on Sloopy," and ''nailed" it, Pinkowitz said.

Robbins, a former office manager, started taking drum lessons. She had always loved music, but ''I never thought I would actually perform it," she said. When Yves moved last year to Sharon, she met Marni Levitt, a part-time lawyer with a musical background, who became a quick addition to the band, singing back-up vocals. Yves and Pinkowitz also recruited Lovett, whom they knew from school circles.

Lovett has long played acoustic guitar recreationally, including during her years as a preschool teacher, nanny, and camp counselor. She plays acoustic and bass guitar and does back-up vocals. Freya Maltz and Dawn Besson, both musical novices, later joined as back-up vocalists.

The group began to take off when ''Tammy started showing up with incredible lyrics," Yves said.

HRT got its first taste of playing in public when members traveled to New York for the open mike performance at a club in Greenwich Village. ''The audience loved us," Yves recalled.

Their private performance at Backyard Jams, where they played 16 original tunes, has inspired them still further. ''It was a magical night," Yves said, recalling the enthusiastic response from their friends and family at the show. The women, who practice up to three days a week in a first-floor room of Yves' home, love the fun of playing together. But beneath that camaraderie is a shared seriousness about the music.

''If our choice is go shopping, to clean the house, to hang out at Starbucks, or to play music," said Yves, ''we want to play music."

Today (free)
Yesterday (free)
Past 30 days
Last 12 months
 Advanced search / Historic Archives