THE BALLAD OF WESTERN SKIES (PART I)
In the last week of 2019, singer/songwriter Stephen Bard sat in
a bedroom in his mothers house in Florida, thinking...“I just want
to be in a vocal group." He had tried to be on several different
occasions, but it's a hard thing to do for many reasons.
A name and a face popped into his mind...Natasha DiMarco.
They had worked together a few times, and Stephen loved her
voice and vocal style. She lived with Dan Rappaport, a
musician/vocalist Stephen barely knew, but knew of. He had seen
Dan perform once at a show years earlier and had been impressed
by Dan’s keen ability to sing harmony and the enchanting,
memorable quality of his voice. Later that week, he called
Natasha and proposed the idea, which at the time was simply one
acoustic guitar, three voices. Both Dan and Natasha were up for it.
They got together that January (2020) and sang “Suite: Judy Blue
Eyes” and “Uncle John’s Band”, “Old Man” and “A Horse With No
Name”. And of course the session would not have been complete
without The Beatles, in the form of “If I Needed Someone”. (Tash
loves that George after all. And who could blame her?)It was
good and it was fun. No drama, no ego, just harmony. They got
together a few more times that February. Everyone knows what
happened that March.
In late February of 2021, after a year apart, Stephen Bard got a
call from Dan Rappaport. Dan said they were ready to work again,
and it was time they all wrote some songs together. On March 8,
2021, the trio was back in the rehearsal room ready to roll.
Then something REALLY cool happened.
Their other roommate, Ryan Liatsis, walked in, a big smile under
that fantastic mustache. He picked up a guitar, and asked if he
could join in. The entire group had known and even worked with
Ryan over the last decade, but they had never thrown in their
lot together to compose original music. Stephen in particular
never imagined Ryan would be interested to sit in on an exercise
in three-part vocal harmony. Fortunately, he was mistaken.
They wrote and recorded their first song “Western Skies” that
day, because the lap steel guitar Ryan was playing sounded like
just that. Natasha took the lead in the verses, Dan and Stephen
traded and harmonized throughout, and Ryan provided a level of
musical accompaniment like something out of a dream you don’t
ever want to wake up from. Stephen played the drums, Dan played
the bass, and off they went, chasing the sunset.
The band liked that song so much, they named themselves after
it. A choice later validated when Stephen happened to watch a
documentary on Crosby, Stills & Nash in which Jimi Hendrix
described their sound as “Western Sky Music.”
These fun and collaborative writing, playing, producing,
recording, singing and mixing sessions continued for nine months
straight. In 2022, Western Skies’ debut album, Awake In A Dream,
was finished and after a few more months of intense rehearsal,
the band was ready to perform live.