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I first saw them perform at the 2009 Tribes Hill Annual Meeting and Hootenanny at the historic Hammond House headquarters in Valhalla, NY. Much of their work carries the style and emotional power of musical theater, something Ia€™m very fond of. After they found out that they were all into music, they'd go over to Paul's house and play just for fun doing covers of Sheryl Crow, Bonnie Raitt and others.
Outside of her positive chorus experiences, there were two stumbling blocks, one of them having a lasting negative effect.
The next step she took was to enroll as a Theater major at SUNY (State University of New York), Fredonia, near Buffalo NY. Around 1996, the three had been getting together to play at Paul's house for some time, eventually playing a few shows as The YaYas, but never took any of it too seriously. In 2003, they self-produced their first 10-song CD, Everything, co-produced and mixed by Ben Wisch whoa€™d produced the Grammy-winning album Walking in Memphis by Mark Cohn and additionally, other notable performers (Patty Larkin, Lucy Kaplansky, Jonatha Brooke, Red Molly). While Catherine is the lyricist for the band, she readily acknowledges the integral part that Jay and Paul play, sometimes helping her complete the songs, pushing her past hurdles in the narratives. Paper Boats was just completed in September, and I was able to listen to the album before its release. The band moved to Mohegan Lake, near Peekskill, NY in 2005, and has become a part of the Tribes Hill community.
The YaYas will appear in Acoustic Live showcases at NERFA and wea€™ll be at the Postcrypt Coffeehouse for their October 1st show. I thought Jay, wry humorist, was the joker in the 3-card hand until Paul started to tell his story. In the late a€™90s, out of all the players who showed up to the open mic at the Fast Folk Cafe, he was one of the very few who stood out and lasted. As a child, barely beyond his toddler years, Marc intuitively would sing songs around the house. Marca€™s brother, four years older, introduced him to a mix of things like Bob Marley, Crosby, Stills and Nash, The Eagles and The Beatles. Hansmann used a standard Mel Bay system, teaching sight reading of melodic passages and chord formations at the same time with some music theory mixed in. After a year and a half, Marc came to class and confessed that he hadna€™t practiced that weeka€™s lesson. Before he got his first guitar, Marca€™s father actually rented a guitar for over a year for him to use.
When he got to the eighth grade, he collaborated with other young musicians, finding a drummer and bass player.
The music Marc was playing at the time was a mash-up of Beatles, Pink Floyd and Yes, who he also liked.
Late in his junior year of high school, Marc dropped out of the band and concentrated on solo guitar, preparing for a college music school. Marc applied to The Hartt School of Music, Dance and Theater in Hartford, Conn., The New School in Manhattan and the Ithaca College School of Music.
Hea€™s still friends with the bassist of that college band, John DeCrescente, who played bass on Crash Boom Pow. For the first five years after getting out of school, Marc didna€™t care how he made money. He did a stint in a cover band, which made money, but he found it wasna€™t getting nearer his goal of being an original solo artist. Around 1997-98 he wanted to start finding himself and performed solo at a number of venues including The Fast Folk Cafe open mic, where I first encountered him. Although he played a lot of rock music, he continued to expand his skills with the acoustic guitar, using it for his songwriting. Life took a quantum leap upward when Marc was asked to be a backup singer and guitarist for Rob Thomas, the lead singer for Matchbox 20.
Crash Boom Pow fuses an intensity of rhythm and melody to create a groove that is impossible for the listener to ignore.
Marc likened a€?Who Are All These Peoplea€? to a€?Crash Boom Powa€? in its kaleidoscope of imagery.
The band in which she sings lead vocals, The YaYas, has just released a new album, Paper Boats. With her husband, Jay Mafale on guitar and old friend Paul Silverman on piano, she forms the point at which the lineup, in tandem, pushes its way into the listenera€™s heart. Neither of his parents had musical ability, but his father played Sinatra records all the time.
Her teachers were serious about teaching everything from folk singing, to sight reading and ear training.
The company would rearrange the space differently, according to need, sometimes in-the-round, often with the audience in close proximity to the actors.
He didn't pursue any type of musical performance during his 4 years at college, but his drive to play was persistent.
He did some acting for fun and enjoyed the camaraderie of the other actors, continuing with the theater group after graduation.
During this period, Jay and Catherine fell in love and in October of 1997, they got married. On their honeymoon, Catherine was thrown from a horse and two of her vertebrae were crushed.
Reaching back to their first CD, Everything, it was evident that they had something special. Catherine continues to do what she does best, writing songs that touch upon her personal experiences, but contain universal appeal, then express them with refined, passionate vocals. Reaching back to their first CD, Everything, it was evident thatA  they had something special. He always had that something extra, that power in the vocals, a sharpness in technique on guitar, an assuredness that rendered him memorable.


His brother took a few guitar lessons but didna€™t like his teacher and didna€™t stick with it.
At 13 he got an amplifier for Christmas so he bought an electric pickup for his acoustic guitar. He got a distortion pedal and experimented with a€?throwbacka€? rock stuff, a lot of covers by a€™60s groups like Led Zeppelin. Chords his guitar teacher taught him using the Mel Bay system would get used, perhaps by moving fret positions. There were the typical college entrance requirements and, in addition, a music school audition to prepare for. Marc was exposed to a student community that was eclectic, comprised of a mix of suburban, Midwestern and hippie types.
He sang in choral and a cappella groups in college and got general advice on breathing from the choral director. One of them, McHale Barone, liked the sound and brought the band in to rearrange a Budweiser jingle, getting the Von Em sound on a€?This Buda€™s for You.a€? It premiered during the 2000 Superbowl broadcast and aired for two years. He also felt the desire to work solo tugging at him and had been mixing in solo gigs during that time.
Marc credits Hudson Valley performer Kathleen Pemble for turning him on to early childhood music. It seems to make use of everything in Marca€™s very deep toolbox and has the best examples of the vagaries of human interaction. He got a distortion pedal and experimented withA  a€?throwbacka€? rock stuff, a lot of covers by a€™60s groups like Led Zeppelin.
He sang in choral and a cappella groups inA  college and got general advice on breathingA  from the choral director. It seems to make use of everything in Marca€™s very deep toolbox and has the best examples ofA  the vagaries of human interaction. The song, a€?All these Gifts,a€? is from that album, and epitomizes her command of the songwriting craft and her vocal abilities. Once they found out about their mutual interest in making music, in small increments, their path revealed itself.
When she was around 14 years old, as a Christmas gift, her mother purchased private lessons for her with a voice teacher. Finding that she liked it, she performed through the rest of high school in some dramas and a couple of musicals. It gave Catherine a new, heightened confidence, having the audience right next to her at times. She'd lost the grandmother she sang with at age 14 and her maternal grandmother the year before her mom died. I got my hands on Everything at the 2009 Northeast Regional Folk Alliance (NERFA) Conference.
Although no one else in her family had musical talent, her grandmother, who loved to sing, lived next door. I got my hands on EverythingA  at the 2009 Northeast Regional Folk Alliance (NERFA) Conference. Crossing 8th, in the crush of bodies around me, I feel someonea€™s toe against my left heel. His fathera€™s record collection included classical, blues and soul music, and that made an impact as well. Marc, who was burnt out on the mechanical repetition of exercises, was actually convinced he was going to quit and said so. Hea€™d find that certain changes would create similar sounds to the aforementioned groups, and hea€™d use them in his banda€™s material.
During that time, Marc experimented with a wah-wah pedal and played around with progressive, blues and traditional progressions. On top of his natural ability, he finally took voice lessons in his late 20s, which helped with a€?placinga€? his voice, he said. He worked a variety of jobs, including as cashier in an A & P, and as a roofera€™s helper. While Von Em had played to 500-1,000 concert-goers, the Rob Thomas tour was a whole other beast.
The title track, a€?Crash Boom Pow,a€? conjures up cinematic imagery, but not so specific that it dictates a story line.
Over a funky guitar line, hea€™s rapping: Did I say that Ia€™d spray you with mace?A  All I meant was I needed my personal spacea€¦ Ita€™s the very apropos track a€?Personal Spacea€? from his new CD Crash Boom Pow. The lead singer begins, her voice with that little catch in it which always works its way past my defenses.
During a 90-minute conference-call interview, amidst many laughter-filled moments, we learned about each membera€™s individual path and what brought them together.
Given that there wasn't much money available for such things, it was for just one lesson per month and, to her, it was a special gift.
However, during her senior year, her English teacher told her that the subject matter in her poems was immature and not worth writing about. Rehearsals were held mostly on Long Island and toward the end also in Manhattan, where Jay was living. She was confined, with a brace, to bed rest for three months, allowed to take a few steps once a day. In my December NERFA CD reviews, I wrote: a€?While Jay on guitar and Paul on keyboard are terrific, Catherinea€™s voice is the jewel in the setting. In addition to co-bills with Freda€™s band, Hope Machine and the YaYas, Fred and Catherine will be touring together this fall. The strings on mine were so high off the fret board, I quit (much to my regret later) because my fingers hurt. They played in a couple of bars to enthusiastic reception until the owners stopped it to avoid problems with under-age laws.


The national touring acts that came through included the Spin Doctors, Blues Traveler and, early in its career, Phish.
Carrying hundred-pound batches of shingles up long ladders was perilous, and protruding nails on stripped rooftops were hell on the flimsy shoes he wore. They toured the East Coast and opened for acts like The Mamas and the Papas and The Young Rascals. Marc laughingly agreed, joking that he might have thought, a€?I can buy FIVE falafels today!a€? He also wrote a jingle for HIP insurance and a few others. At this point, Ia€™d been playing it for about three weeks, dropping into a groove each time.
The national touring acts that came through includedA  the Spin Doctors, Blues Traveler and, early in its career, Phish. It presents a a€?collage of imagesa€? gathered from Marca€™s time in New York City.A  It allows listeners to have their own reactions and pictures.
Hearing them again, on a number of occasions, their brilliance reinforced my initial impression. When he was 12, his parents took him to a Sinatra concert and he was thrilled to watch Buddy Rich drumming. During the third lesson, Catherine asked the teacher if she had a chance to become a singer. He developed a long-term friendly relationship with his teacher, Bob Hansmann, who still occasionally shows up at Marca€™s gigs. They did a couple of a€?battle of the bandsa€? competitions in school a€” one each in his sophomore and junior years.
He remembers a course in sight reading where, in the final exam, the student was expected to see and play sharp and flat notes placed in odd places in a random test piece. For larger, special-event, multi-band shows with groups such as No Doubt and The Black-Eyed Peas, sponsored by Z-100 fm, there were audiences of 30,000.
His robust playing style leaves him particularly suited for ruminations on the fragmented human condition, especially that of New Yorkers. During her recuperation period, she had time to reflect, and she realized that singing was the most important thing in her life and she wanted to make a serious attempt to work at it full-time.
I wanted to learn something cool like a€?Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds.a€™a€? He told Hansmann about this. He continued learning from early Beatles albums like Rubber Soul, experimenting with chords and guitar runs. They also played at some block parties, outdoor flea markets, an Ossining fair and a birthday party. Unlike some of his classmates, Marc liked a movement class where the student had to clap and step in different rhythms, ingraining the music on a physical level.
When they played Live 8 in Philadelphia, counting cable viewers, the audience was more than two million. She worked 30 hours a week her first two years and didn't audition for anything the first year.
She spoke to Jay and Paul about pushing for more gigs, so in 1998, they surveyed the musical landscape and began their serious run as a band.
His stuff is not exactly folky, but ita€™s definitely wooden music and it sure generates excitement. Demonstrating an astute sense of timing, she fled Germany before the Nazi Holocaust could claim her. Hansmann told Marc, a€?It took a strong kid to hold out for a year and a half.a€? He immediately switched gears and prepared a blues song for Marc to learn and worked out a Beatles song as well. Marc wrote songs all through high school, though many were not suitable for the rock group he was in. His sense of rhythm is so strong that it would seem hea€™d have a real affinity for this class. Therea€™s a syncopation that captures the uneven nature of relationships and a minor key melody expressing a pessimism in outcomes.
After re-acclimating herself as a student, in her sophomore year, she started performing in plays again.
He worked with rehearsals for shows, so there wasn't time to practice the material a€” he just had to pick it up quickly. It breathed new life into Marca€™s dedication and he left feeling that he wanted to study and play music forever. In addition, she took a writing course, and in Carolyn Sobel, her professor, found a believer. Then WFUVa€™s John Platt picked him for one of his monthly On Your Radar acts at the Living Room in New York City in August of this year.
Ita€™s dreamlike, with Paula€™s keyboard ringing like chimes and Jaya€™s solemn guitar strum conducting a stately march. I hadna€™t seen him in the flesh since the long-gone Fast Folk days, but we quickly got reacquainted before his set.
Coming down off of that high perch, though was necessary for Marc to realize his dream of being a creative solo act. Catherinea€™s voice floats, ethereally high over them: Please let him keep looking toward this horizona€¦When Ia€™m thinking of him, ita€™s twilight. The intensity of his guitar and vocal attack sold me and I offered him a cover feature on the spot.



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