Santa Cruz Good Times

Wednesday
May 27th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Three’s Company

It’s always better when The Refugees are together

The story of how female folk supergroup The Refugees formed in 2007 isn’t exciting. Nor, at first glance, is the group itself.

Cindy Bullens, Wendy Waldman, and Deborah Holland weren’t snorting lines of ants in Hollywood. They weren’t trashing hotels in New York. But maybe that’s the secret to their combined 90-plus years of experience in the music industry and Grammy nominations—smash one too many guitars, and you don’t get a next gig.

“It was pretty boring. We just knew each other,” Holland says of how they met. “We were all in the music business and our paths had crossed as they do in Los Angeles and Nashville or New York. We had been pursuing solo careers, and we decided to get together and go tour.”

But the power of three proved unstoppable. “We knew right from the beginning that we had a pretty special blend in singing together,” she says.

The Refugees have been compared to “a female version of Crosby, Stills, and Nash” with a better sense of humor. Better yet, they’re The Andrews Sisters waylaid in Appalachia, with their tight, three-part harmonies—or a Dixie Chicks sound-alike that emphasizes music over makeup.

The trio began by covering one another’s songs from their combined 19 studio albums. Their self-proclaimed “refugizing” filled their debut record, 2009’s Unbound. But the group has evolved since then, and on their latest effort, Three, Holland says that half of the songs are group originals. “The songs that we write together none of us would have written individually,” she explains. “There’s definitely something else that happens when we write as a trio.”

While each musician thrived individually, the trio’s synergy has created limitless opportunities. Bullens is a two-time Grammy nominee—once for her voice on the Grease soundtrack; and Waldman was nominated in 1993 for Vanessa Williams’ “Save the Best for Last,” which was narrowly beaten by Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven.” But together, they created something much more satisfying, and not just in terms of product.

“If the gig [was] great, I [had] no one to share it with, and if a gig sucked, I had no one to commiserate with,” Holland says of being a solo artist. “It’s a whole lot more fun traveling together.”

On their new record, for which they have embarked on a nationwide tour, their chemistry and musicality are evident; you can almost hear them nodding their heads, satisfied with a sound that a veteran musician can appreciate. “Can’t Stop Now” shows them spry and limber in an up-tempo shuffle that demonstrates Bullens’ years in the Nashville music scene. “I could be headed for a breakdown/ But I can’t stop now,” she sings.

Holland teaches music to college students in Vancouver, British Columbia, and Waldman is a music producer in Los Angeles, Calif. And Bullens? “You couldn’t get farther apart than Portland, Maine,” Holland says.

Despite the miles between them, the trio allots time to write, record, and tour together. The greatest testament to their professionalism is that when they unite, they perform at the highest level, with visible enjoyment. Their story may lack the luster of Aerosmith or Van Halen, but their polished product has the power to turn heads.


The Refugees play at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 22, at Don Quixote’s, 6275 Hwy 9, Felton. Tickets are $12/adv, $15/door. 603-2294.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Ocean Odyssey

Sailing the high seas from Santa Cruz to French Polynesia, Sally-Christine Rodgers documents the trials, tribulations and joys of exploring the world by boat

 

Gemini Festival of Goodwill, World Invocation Day

This entire week is a preparation by the New Group of World Servers (NGWS) for the June full moon (Tuesday) and to welcome the Forces of Reconstruction, great outer planetary forces streaming into the Earth at the Gemini Solar Festival. The Gemini Festival at the June full moon is called the Festival of Goodwill and World Invocation Day (recitation of the Great Invocation, the mantram of direction for humanity, hourly around the world). During the (12 degrees) Gemini festival, the Wesak blessing of the will-to-good is released and radiated (Gemini distributes) to humanity. When the will-to-good is received, humanity is then able to radiate goodwill to each other and to the kingdoms. The Gemini Festival is the third of the Three Spring Festivals (triangle of Force), setting the spiritual template and resources for Earth for the rest of the year (‘til next spring). This festival recognizes the true spirit of humanity—aspiring toward and seeking the will of God, dedicated to right human relation. At the full moon, the Divine nature of humanity is recognized. Christ stands with humanity, leader of his people, “the Eldest in a great family of brothers” (Romans VIII, 29.) Each year at the Gemini festival, Christ preaches the last sermon of Buddha, His brother, a sermon calling forth human and spiritual unity, represented by an outflow of love (work of the Christ) and wisdom (work of the Buddha). The forces of reconstruction stream in during the Festival, ushering in an era of pronounced creative activity, rebuilding the tangible world on new creative lines. This necessitates the total destruction of the old forms no longer useful for the new world era. Everyone is invited. Join us everyone for this Festival of Goodwill by reciting the Great Invocation.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Bombs Away

‘Good Kill’ is Andrew Niccol’s didactic, sometimes wishy-washy liberal movie about the drone strikes
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

The Main Avant

Jozseph Schultz caters New Music Works’ 35th annual Avant Garden Party, plus brews for a cause

 

What will Santa Cruz be like in the future?

 society that is more awakened and realizes its own value and the beauty of the stunning Earth. Marguerite Clifford, Felton, Nutrition Health Care

 

Chesebro Wines

Piedras Blancas-Roussanne 2011

 

Real Thai Kitchen

Ratana Bowden on why Thai cuisine isn’t as spicy as everyone thinks