Christine Cherry — Bringing a little country to NYC
One would assume that if you’re looking for a hotbed of country music, New York City wouldn’t be the place to set up shop in. But Christine Cherry says that would be a false assumption.
“You know what’s funny, you would think that, and a lot of people do, but New York has a huge underground music scene,” said the Alabama native. “There are places every night of the week where you can go and hear amazing bluegrass jams. The level of quality is unheard of and it’s all over the place. You just gotta know where to look.”
Cherry wasn’t even looking when she moved from Montgomery to pursue a career in musical theater. But soon, her roots gave her away and prompted her to take her music in a different direction.
“I came to the city to do theater, and ironically, the whole time I was auditioning for theater, they kept telling me, ‘You sound too country,’” she said. “I always got that feedback, and eventually I was like, ‘Well, if I sound like that, that’s probably because that’s what I am.’ (Laughs) So maybe I should just do that. And the rest is history. We formed a band and we’ve been playing ever since. It’s gotten crazy.”
Leader of the popular local band CC and the Boys, Cherry also released her first EP, Worth a Shot, last summer, and she’s starting to make noise in a place where she can be as unique as she wants to be.
“The reason that we are different is because a lot of the country music that’s up here in the city is very much Americana and bluegrass and I’m pretty much straight, old school country rock and southern blues like Lynyrd (Skynyrd) and the Doobie Brothers and Dolly Parton,” she said. “So it’s definitely different. We’re a party band. We’re a little go hard or go home, to say the least.”
One dose of Cherry and company on stage and you’ll see what she means. There is an energy to the performances, and in Cherry’s case, there’s no monotone, staring at her shoes efforts. She is into it from start to finish, and her expressive performing style drags you in immediately.
“I’ve just always been a performer, and that’s why I made this band, so I could just do stuff that I love to do,” she said. “And when you really love it, it’s fun and exciting. I think a lot of people sometimes take their music really seriously, and the bottom line is that at the end of the day, it’s gotta be fun. It’s gotta be something that when people watch you do it, they’re having a blast. And if you’re having fun, then they’re having fun. And my band is amazing, so every time I get out there, it’s like a dream come true for me.”
And while translating that to vinyl can be an impossible task sometimes, she was able to pull it off on Worth a Shot, and as she explains, the only way to do that is to have the songs backing her up.
“Honestly, it’s about having good songs,” Cherry said. “You have to be a good songwriter. When you’re a good songwriter, it transfers. A lot of times, I think a lot of bands are great performers, so they can sell the songs that aren’t the best. But a good song sells itself. One of my favorite performers of all-time is Dolly Parton and if you listen to her records, there’s usually no more than four instruments and her voice on it, and she’s one of the greatest songwriters of all-time. So the material is there. But that’s the hard part.”
Cherry seems to be managing just fine, and while she’s smashing stereotypes when it comes to the music produced here in New York, she’s getting just as much out of life in the Big Apple. In fact, this may not have happened anywhere but here for her.
“There’s something here that’s not there,” she said of NYC. “This city has life to it like nowhere else and that’s why everybody comes here. But there is a piece of the pie that’s missing, and that’s that serious southern rock band that you go see and you can party with your friends and it’s epic. That’s what we’re trying to bring to the game. Country music like it should be, old school style.”
Old school with a new twist. That’s a description Cherry can live with.
“Eventually, you have to come to terms with yourself and be happy with what you have to offer to the scene,” she said. “And I came to terms with that a few years ago, where one day I was like, ‘You know what, this is me, this is what I do that’s the best that I can give.’ And when you go straight down that tunnel and don’t look back, it’s kind of hard to not be really happy about it.”
CC and the Boys play the Unit J Ladies’ Night in Brooklyn on Friday, June 23. For more information, click here.
For more information on Christine Cherry, click here