Funny how things fall into place. Last year, I started an interview with Cristina Garey. It was never published because I like to hear the musicians I write about — live — at least once.
We’d played in some of the same venues, but I had never heard what she had to offer. Well, the other night, I was invited to a last minute get-together/jam session. The hosts are good friends, and the guests included a mix of musicians.
Cristina was there. During the course of the evening, we all took turns singing songs and Ms. Garey was a revelation. A beautiful voice emanated from her slight frame and — despite her confession that she hadn’t picked up an acoustic guitar in years — a solid Latin rhythm was laid down, (over which, I was permitted to exhibit my humble, clumsy guitar playing skills).
I knew, then, which interview I was going to submit for this issue of COAST.
Here it is:
Q: What brought you to the Outer Banks?
A: I first came to Nags Head, as it was referred to in the late ’70s, because my college roommate's parents had a cottage here, and I love the ocean.
Q: How would you describe your music?
A: Eclectic mix...my roots are Cuban music, but I love all quality music — bluegrass, rock, jazz.
Q: Who is your greatest musical influence?
A: Joni Mitchell, Sergio Mendes & Brasil 66, Afro-Cuban music. As a teenager, I listened to a lot of Zeppelin, Yes, Pink Floyd.
Q: What is it about music that touches you?
A: It touches my soul; music is divine. I can’t live without playing music. I know that now. I love making music. The interaction between musicians; feeding off of each other. That’s music. The primal human connection. My passion forced me out of my comfort zone, so I play out, and not just in my living room.
Q: The first concert you attended, did it inspire you to perform?
A: Jethro Tull. It was Joni Mitchell that inspired me to want to become a musician. I wasn’t driven by a desire to perform. I am a bit shy. Performing was not an ambition until recently.
Q: Are you self-taught?
A: Yes. I started in 10th grade. Decades later, when my sons went off to college, I decided I wanted to go to college, too. I got a degree in music theory and composition from Elizabeth City State University. What a fun ride that was.
Q: Besides guitar, what other instruments do you play?
A: I am, primarily, a vocalist-songwriter.
Q: How many different musical projects are you involved in?
A: Duo: Randy and Cristy, Trio Los Playeros, (Stephan Carbocci, Chris Francis), Havana Club (Ron Forlano, bass; Chris Francis, lead guitar; Ali Shield, drums)
Q: What's your favorite venue on the Outer Banks?
A: I love going to Art's Place on jazz night; I'm a huge fan of Joe Mapp and company.
Q: Musicians usually play for those “moments” when everything clicks. Do you have a favorite moment?
A: My debut with "Roots in the Sand" at Roanoke Island Festival Park. That was my first real performance and I lived up to the honor we were given. (1997 or 1998) The players in that event were much more skilled and experienced than I, but I stepped up to the plate! It was the first time I believed I had something to offer.
Q: What do you do in the off-season?
A: I am a real estate broker, currently with Maritime Realty. I work very hard.
Q: Was there a person in your life that motivated you to pursue music?
A: Quite the opposite; I was discouraged. I come from an old school, Hispanic, Catholic family and girls are raised to be housewives and mothers. Back in the day, I used to play open mics at Kelly's when they were hosted by the Bell Hops. I was dipping my toes in the water and very insecure. Dan Martier and Mick Vaughn always encouraged me. They really boosted my confidence, which I sorely needed.
Q: If you could perform with anyone, who would it be?
A: Pretty sure Yo-Yo Ma is not interested in playing with me.
Q: Is there one song you wish you'd written?
A: Every song written by Antonio Carlos Jobim.
Q: If you could choose any time period to play music, when would it be?
A: No time like the present!
Q: Do you listen to new music?
A: Always listening to new music. Recently I am enamored of Rosa Passos from Brazil. I love discovering a new great artist.
Q: Where were you the first time you performed onstage?
A: Roanoke Island Festival Park, I was 41.
Q: Writing songs, is it positive or negative inspiration that drives you?
A: Neither. Both. I am inspired by a strong feeling.
Q: Do you have any hobbies that aren’t music-related?
A: Gardening, landscaping.
Q: If you were so insecure about your talent, why did you keep pursuing music?
A: Things started clicking and as it turns out, I do have something to offer. My partner, Rodney, gave me encouragement and a fine instrument, a Gibson ES 339, that makes me a better player and I perform with accomplished and talented Outer Banks musicians. Who would have thunk it? Moral of the story: If you love music; it’s never too late.