Marci Geller, Cathy Kreger and Diane Garisto have long been staples on the New York singer-songwriter scene. And now the three national touring artists have joined forces to form the folk-rock band Lucky 13.
Stony Brook native Marci Geller, who has toured with Blackmore’s Night and performed on Live with Regis and CNN Worldbeat, “came out singing,” according to her mom.
“[My parents said] anytime they put music on, I would just perk up. Before I learned to walk, I would do the twist sitting down anytime music played,” notes Geller. “And when there was a piano at someone’s house, I would go and tinker with it. Music was a very organic thing for me.”
Geller’s affinity for music led to the creation of her music production company, Sonic Underground, which she runs with her husband, Gian DiMauro. In 2008, Geller decided to celebrate the indie label’s 13th anniversary by creating a compilation of music entitled Lucky 13, and the first person she recruited was Huntington-based electro-acoustic powerhouse, Cathy Kreger.
Inspired by her musical parents, folk-duo Bill and Robie, Kreger started out playing piano and then got hooked on guitar. The contemporary folkie has since opened for big acts like Aztec Two-Step and The Band. But her most memorable experience was opening for Taj Mahal and Bonnie Raitt when she was just 20 years old.
“I believe it was at the Silver Cloud Bluegrass Festival and I was playing with my bluegrass band, Mainline Express,” recalls Kreger. “Bonnie Raitt is a big musical influence and it was a great show, very powerful.”
The third artist on the compilation was Susan DeVita, who worked with Arif Mardin and was signed to RCA records at a young age. And when the three singers performed together in support of the release, the response was overwhelming, with one fan commenting: “You’re kinda like Crosby, Stills, & Nash, with boobs.”
“We went on a radio tour,” says Geller, “and every time we’d perform, the deejay would say, ‘You guys are a band, right?’ And we’d be like, ‘No, no, no, we’re three artists. We’re just on the same compilation disc.’ “They’d look at us and say, ‘You guys should really be a band.’”
After choosing the moniker Lucky 13, the trio went on to perform throughout the northeast, even appearing on the Fox Morning Show and WLNY TV. And while Susan DeVita left Lucky 13 in January, their newest member, Diane Garisto, is a natural fit.
The Manhattan-based chanteuse who appeared on Paul Simon’s Graceland and Billy Joel’s River of Dreams, has performed with the likes of Steely Dan and Laura Nyro. And, like Geller and Kreger, Garisto’s musical roots run deep. Her father, a composer/jazz musician, was behind the original NBC Peacock theme, and her cousin is the drummer for the Psychedelic Furs. Garisto’s career began at 10 years old, when she sang “Yabba-Dabba-Doo” in a Flintstones vitamin commercial.
“I sang the Flintstones commercial in a child’s voice,” remarks Garisto, whose versatile voice can be heard in a myriad of commercials. “Voice has always been my main instrument and that’s what I studied in school, but I started playing guitar when I was about 12, and percussion is a fun sideline.”
At live venues, you can witness the rich harmonies of the acoustic trio’s diverse singing styles with Garisto on percussion, Geller on keys, and Kreger on guitar, playing all originals, like the catchy “Lucky 13,” which garnered a lot of airplay. You’ll also hear previews of songs from their forthcoming CD, with an expected May release.
Because their music features elements of folk, rock, pop, blues and jazz, Lucky 13 appeals to every demographic. But when asked whom they’d most like to open for, each responded, “James Taylor or Carly Simon.”
“I credit Carly Simon with getting me through puberty,” remarks Geller. “When I was a little kid, I felt like she was a friend who didn’t know me yet. [Opening for her] seems like a far stretch at the moment, but we might as well dream big!”
Catch the trio at The Garden Stage Coffee House in Garden City, NY on April 9th. For more info: www.Lucky13.fm.