Life's challenges brought three seasoned musicians together for some soul-baring winter jam sessions in the Greensprings, and the result is a new band with a new sound: Group Therapy.
"We were all just having rough times in life, with all kinds of different challenges going on," says Teri Coté, drummer with the David Cassidy and Karen Lovely bands. "What we found is that we would discuss a lot of things together; we were there for each other as supports and it just naturally happened."
For each of the three members — Coté, guitarist Rob Gunderson and keyboardist Thomas Mackay — the arrangement is all about collaboration and respect.
"We all three have our own style and it's melded together to be our sound," Coté says. "It's group therapy — we get to do whatever we want.
"I said in the beginning there are no rules in this band, no boundaries."
Coté has been playing drums professionally for 29 years. For the last seven she's been with Cassidy, star of the 1970s musical/sitcom "The Partridge Family," and for the last two with Lovely's band.
Soon after Gunderson started playing guitar with Coté, the two added Mackay, and the band solidified its sound in the Greensprings.
"Instead of paying a bunch of money to a psychologist, I just write a song and then I feel like I've taken care of whatever issues," said Gunderson.
Each member of the trio brings his or her own library of original songs, and they work on them together. During gigs, they take turns round-robin style playing each other's songs.
In the Tidings Café video recorded at Coté's new home studio in Talent (see www.dailytidings.com/tidingscafe), the band performs a medley of original songs: "Ain't Nothing Wrong," written by Coté; "Love Me Tonight," by Gunderson; and "The Buzz," in which Mackay delivers his signature funky fusion sound.
Even though Coté started the ball rolling by forming the group, the band has grown into a creative collaboration with a sound all its own.
"Her idea from the beginning was to have a bass player, but the bass player didn't work out or show up, so I said, 'Well, let my left hand do it,' " Mackay says. "I've been playing the bass role and the keyboard role ever since then, and we've just kept the trio."
What is most evident when Group Therapy plays live is the mutual respect each member has for one another. There is certainly no band leader.
"When you're in a group meeting there is a respect that you bring into it," Gunderson says. "Respect is really important in a band, respect for everyone's opinion and the musicianship of each other."
The band is working on a CD it hopes to finish by fall. Coté and Gunderson will be playing as a duo at Roscoe's in Phoenix Feb. 4-5, while Mackay is on tour with Synrgy, a reggae band from Humboldt County.
Mandy Valencia is a freelance writer and videographer living in Ashland. Reach her at email@example.com.