Reprinted with permission from Metroland, Capital Regions
An eclectic repertoire and a playful attitude reflect the fun-loving approach of musical duo 2 Broads With Alotta Sound
By Dick Buyer
Photo by Teri Curie
‘It’s not necessary to be a cutie pie—what’s important is that we’re just a couple of middle-aged women who are starting a career together,” declares Quincy Rene. “It’s fun and it gives us an opportunity to be creative.”
Rene and Diane Geddes comprise 2 Broads with Alotta Sound, a musical duo who whisk listeners into the past by converting familiar songs into tuneful, nostalgic journeys. Performing together since the spring of 1998, Geddes, of Loudonville, plays the “intelligent arrangement keyboard,” providing accompaniment as Rene, an Albany resident, negotiates through old standards to put an individualistic stamp on each number. “We will do anything, whatever the job demands,” notes Rene. “We’re very eclectic.”
During an interview, the musicians touch on their musical backgrounds, laugh as they recall how they met, and describe their brand of entertainment. “I started playing the organ at 9,” says Geddes, “and later, did restaurants as a teenager.” In her 20s, Geddes played with local bands including the Chemistry, Double Take, Triage, Mixed Company and Uptown.
In the spring of 1997, while giving lessons at an area music store, Geddes moved in a new direction after meeting Rene. As both women sprinkle the recollection with laughter, Geddes says: “The [store] manager introduced me to Quincy, who was there to buy sheet music. Instead, Quincy ended with a keyboard, which she carried on her shoulder! What a strong lady! I was impressed.” At the time, Rene was playing with a group that was double-booked, so she gave one of the gigs to Mixed Company, of which Geddes was a member. Later that year, Rene filled in during a Mixed Company performance. “She did a great job and we musically clicked,” Geddes asserts.
The couple’s encounter in the store and Rene’s fill-in performance were the catalysts for a flurry of excited phone calls in the spring of 1998, which led to the decision to perform together. “For our first gig, we prepared for six weeks,” recounts Geddes.
“It was very simple and [there was] no great plan,” injects Rene.
Today, the duo present a smorgasbord of standards, oldies, Latin favorites, and some contemporary numbers. They compile songs into programs such as “A Musical Journey Thru New York” (featuring “New York, New York,” “Give my Regards to Broadway” and other numbers) and “A Broads’ Eye View of Life” (“The Lady Is a Tramp,” “Pistol Packin’ Mama,” etc.). Each program consists of 12 to 15 songs. The contrasting but compatible couple have played such venues as Proctor’s Theatre and the New York State Museum. “We prefer live performances,” Rene says, “because of the interplay with the listeners.”
“We do a variety of different things—like, for instance, this week we’re at the Century House, and we’ll just be doing some jazz standards as background music,” Geddes says.
“We don’t have a main focus,” Rene adds. “We like live performing. We like the club stuff that we do. We do some nursing-home stuff. We just really like being out there performing for people. A couple of broads having a good time.”
The group’s “journey” shows play to all the strengths that the performers bring to the mix, because the shows meld music, acting and comedy. “I’m the tour-bus driver and Quincy is the tour guide, and the audience actually participates by being passengers on the bus—it’s an imaginary tour-bus ride,” Geddes explains, citing the “Journey Thru New York” show as an example. “We go through Broadway, through 42nd Street. We take the ‘A’ train.”
Rene says that the comedy in the shows evolves from her playful give-and-take with concertgoers. “I guess it comes into it naturally—it’s kind of like interactive with the audience,” she says. “My character comes up and kind of introduces herself and asks a question or makes a comment or points out something or solicits some kind of involvement. The comedy is very gentle because of the type of audience we play for. It’s not edgy.”
She also says she likes the structure of the “journey” shows because she and her partner are forced to think on their feet. “You have to set the tone of the story,” she says. “Sometimes you have to change the story because the audience. Sometimes the audience may not handle one of the sadder songs in the journey, so you have to change it.”
Rene’s journey began in Westbury, on Long Island, where her father served as a superintendent of an estate. She sang with a high school band, then considered majoring in music when she enrolled at SUNY Potsdam. She dismissed the idea, however, because she lacked formal training, and she eventually graduated with a psychology degree. While at Potsdam, Rene dabbled in drama. “I received some positive feedback from members of the Crane School of Music,” she remembers. Her other creative exploits included acting in community theater and playing in a rock band. “I have no pedigree, but have a good ear,” she says. “I’m self-taught.”
Rene was employed as a social worker at the St. Lawrence County Psychiatric Center before moving to the Capital Region in 1979 and taking a job at the Capital District Psychiatric Center. She retired in June 2000.
While Rene took a circuitous route to music, Geddes has been a professional musician most of her life. The Albany native took private instruction from a young age, and has for years supplemented her performing income by giving keyboard lessons.
Describing her partnership with Geddes, Rene says: “We complement each other in terms of strengths and weaknesses.” Geddes describes herself as the “entertainer” of the group, and Rene calls herself the “musician.” The women—both of whom are married, and both of whom credit their spouses with supporting their musical endeavors—say that they plan to build on their live performances by releasing a CD in the near future. The 2 Broads also have collaborated on five original tunes, with music by Geddes, lyrics by Rene and arrangements by both; the compositions include “Love Call” and “Chihuahua Cha Cha.”
Asked about the group’s future, both Broads respond optimistically. “We plan on being together for a long time,” Geddes says. “We just have a lot of fun—we’re like sisters. We have a good time and we fight, but we have a sense of humor about it afterwards. We’d like to do some regional work, go out of the area.”
“We want to continue to write music for ourselves and maybe explore writing music for other people,” Rene says. “There’s no reason why we can’t keep doing this. We’re not young chicks anymore—we’re not ‘2 Chicks With Alotta Sound.’ As long as people are entertained, we want to continue to do what we love. And you don’t have to be young to do it. I think that’s the most important thing that we’re finding.”
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