Lead Singer Mariza ”Rossi” Cahill delighted the Brewstation audience with her voice, guitar and banjo playing. Noel Nash/The Chronicle
COTTAGE GROVE - Urban legend has it that people can swallow up to 10 spiders annually in their sleep. The musical group Ten Spiders is happy to announce that you can put those surgical masks away; it's a total myth, spiders have no interest in going anywhere near our mouths.
”That was my brother-in-law's idea, to come up with something really gross, just so people would remember it,” said Maria ”Rossi” Cahill, the Portland band's lead singer, guitarist and banjo player. ”At first we were called Tripezoid, but nobody could spell it – and we weren't even that trippy – then we switched to Atmosphere, and we weren't thrilled with that, either.”
That was many moons ago. After putting out two CDs, the band out of Philadelphia broke up – or, as it turned out, went on a 15-year sabbatical. But Cahill can honestly say that Ten Spiders, as a band right now, has legs like never before.
”This is the most inspiring, most dedicated lineup of people we've ever had,” said Cahill, whose husband, Steve, plays a wicked bass. ”I was telling a friend we're gonna have to call the fire department because of how hot this band is.
”After that show Friday night (at The Brewstation), we all felt so excited. On the ride home we were telling each other how awesome we all were.”
Cahill isn't surprised that her career path has included songwriting. She has written about 65 songs, and says she still plays all of them.
”I love to write, whether it's songs, letters to the editor, you name it,” Cahill said. ”My dad was a journalist, so I think he kind of passed along the writing gene to me.”
Frank Rossi was a highly acclaimed feature writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Columbia (Mo.) Daily Tribune. While in Columbia in 1979, he won the prestigious Ernie Pyle Memorial Award for Human Interest Reporting. He died at age 44 after battling cancer for 19 years. His daughter was only 21.
She says she gets inspired to write from a lot of daily life situations. For instance, ”Nuclear Submarine” is a tune about a housemate who overstays his welcome, or ”Peach” is about a nearby resident starting an altercation because she had to slam on the brakes and bruised her peach.
”Whenever somebody makes you mad, if you can get retribution by doing it in a song, then laugh about it with everybody at the bar, that's the way to roll,” Cahill said.
While they may not be ”that trippy,” as Cahill says, the band does have a funky, psychedelic side that gives them a Grateful Dead-type of vibe, particularly in ”Nothingness,” a mesmerizing song on their new CD, ”Dust Anyway.” It's a groove that allows the listener to hop aboard, enjoy the ride and see where it takes you.
One turning point for the band has been getting keyboardist Amos Hart to join the group. ”We definitely raised our game when we got Amos on board,” Cahill said.
He had recently moved to Portland from Chicago, having fallen in love with the Portland music scene.
”I was in Portland for a week, and I knew I'd get back there,” said Hart, who got a music composition degree from Columbia College in Chicago.
Hart is a member of four other bands, including Silent Temple, which he formed in 2013. Silent Temple, a neo-classical jazz fusion group, is playing at the Campbell Club in Eugene on Saturday, Feb. 29. Ten Spiders drummer Harrison Games also plays for Silent Temple.
Ten Spiders will be back twice this summer. They'll be at PublicHouse in Springfield on June 24, at Beergarden in Eugene the following night, then back at The Brewstation on June 26.
They'll also be taking part in the Western Oregon Exposition Heritage Fair from Aug. 21-23 in Cottage Grove.
”Portland is fine, but the smaller the town, the more we like it,” Cahill said. ”Playing these small clubs like The Brewstation, where you can talk to the fans on a more personal level, is much more enjoyable for us.”