Like all inspired musical groups, the Singin’ 4 Supper quartet nails the melodic mood in the opening three notes. They seamlessly blend soft rock, folk, country, western and “bluezy-grass” into a lineup of very easy listening.
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With guitars, mandolin, fiddle, upright bass, banjo and harmonica (no drums) plus a deep love for their craft, they assemble about 30 times a year to harmonize the old and current standards cherished by their swelling legion of listeners.
At the recent El Dorado Backyard Beekeepers social, the foursome played for several hours without scrambling for material.
A low, sweet melody filled the air, as Jo Cain Styles and Margrit Petrofsky launched an Irish tale of love and loss.
Tom Leffler and Orvin Lambert smoothed in the bass fiddle and harmonica. The sweet strains across the park-like grounds made an apt setting for the growing bee club whose work promotes understanding and population of honey bees.
Styles is usually the lead vocalist, sometimes subbing on guitar, fiddle or doghouse bass. Her sound is strong and pitch-perfect, yet fits well in the group groove.
Petrofsky mostly sings backup vocals and harmonies, sometimes lead. She plays mandolin. Her plaintive voice lends a compelling authenticity especially in the folk ballads.
The men are primarily instrumentalists, although lead guitarist and bassist Leffler frequently adds his voice to the mix, especially on blues.
The harmonica rocks along, powered by Lambert, an annual competition finalist. His mouth harp brings a bluesy counterpoint to the music, evident in arrangements such as Crystal Gayle’s haunting classic “Ready for the Times.”
The set moves through a playlist that looks like a phone book. Each member contributes their own favorites and most of the time are accepted and learned by the others.
Looking through the repertoire one is surprised by the variety — Gershwin’s “Summertime,” Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready,” Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” Merle Travis’s “Sixteen Tons” and a few songs by Credence Clearwater Revival and Elvis Costello.
The four musicians are united by their love of giving their music but diverse in their résumés.
Styles brings a four-year background as an emergency medical technician (squad) from Lake Tahoe. Prior to that she served many years as an elementary counselor. She works with kids and is an avid jet-skier.
Petrofsky is a registered nurse and a former licensed vocational nurse. A health educator, she took up music more seriously when a personal health issue caused her to reflect on what she really wanted to do. Sing and play instruments, of course.
“I’m a disco era refugee, so lucky to be here with these guys,” she enthused.
Leffler’s sentiments exactly. The 33 year veteran of the sheet metal industry who beats bass and sings lead on many of the blues numbers, summarizes his involvement with the group, reflecting, “I never thought this would happen. It’s a dream come true.”
Lambert was 51 years old before realizing he wanted to play harmonica. He acquired the instrument, took lessons and practiced incessantly. Talent won out and before long the retired civil engineer found himself in a regional competition and has consistently placed in the circle of winners.
The unlikely foursome met each other at a music camp in the summer of 2009 and decided to jam every week. They polished the act, developed a playlist and stormed some open mic nights.
That led to the DaVine Coffee House concert in April of 2010, which led to the Cold Springs Country Club luncheon, the Elks Club luncheon, Marco’s Cafe in Coloma, the Home Depot Kids’ Expo and the Cameron Airpark Show. Not bad for a 3-year-old band with nothing but a dream.
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