Skip to main content

Throwback Tunes and Edgy Fashion

Mon, 03/18/2024 - 14:26
The current Cherry Bombs lineup includes, from left, Christopher Walsh on guitar, Nika Nesgoda on cello, Vanessa Lynah and Lola Lama on vocals, and Yuka Silvera on bass, all wearing outfits selected by Ms. Silvera.
Cassandra Smith

"Get down, ladies, you've got nothin' to lose."

So sing the Runaways in their hit song "Cherry Bomb," which, fun fact, came out in 1976, not in the 1980s, as their debut single. Close enough, maybe, for the Cherry Bombs, a 1980s cover band based in Amagansett and New York City, which like the Runaways has its rocking, risk-taking roots in female empowerment.

The Cherry Bombs first got together in 2019 for the Battle of the Fantasy Girl Bands, a fund-raiser for the Neo-Political Cowgirls that since its debut in 2016 has solidified itself as an annual favorite among music lovers here. Though the band's lineup has shifted over time and has more recently included male musicians as well, the Cherry Bombs' steady beat -- literally and figuratively -- has been Yuka Silvera, bass player, bandleader, and fashion stylist, who grew up in Tokyo listening to '80s music and longed to hear her favorite songs played live.

It's not performing, but rather band practice, that gets Ms. Silvera excited. "To me, rehearsing with friends, talking about music, drinking champagne together, that's my favorite part of being in a band."

Yet in a recent post on her blog, Tokyo Mod Girl, she wrote that a few of her friends have congratulated her for "making [her] dream come true to be a rocker."

"I said that I never dreamed of becoming a rocker. Wait, have I?" she wrote. "Didn't I form bands and perform on every given opportunity ever since elementary school?" Indeed, she played songs by the Go-Go's in a band called Cherry Ice Cream in high school, setting the stage for what was to come later in life.

She referenced a quote from Debbie Harry's book "Face It: A Memoir," in which the Blondie rocker wrote, "Coincidence is the stuff that's meant to be." But, Ms. Silvera said, "I don't believe in coincidence. I guess my bandmates or I have manifested [this]? I'm not sure how long I get to play, but I'll enjoy while it lasts."

"We really liked the idea of being able to just rock out as women for fun and for a good cause," said Elise Trucks, a daughter of Butch Trucks, a drummer and founding member of the Allman Brothers Band, who, fittingly, plays the drums. She can also attest to the power of school music programs, having first played the snare drum and triangle in school growing up. "We toyed with the idea of doing it for real, and a couple of years later, we're doing it." 

Previous band members include Andrea Chesley on vocals, Dianne K. LeVerrier on guitar, Hailey London on percussion and backup vocals, Julia Knobel and Sarah Azzara (both now in another Fantasy Girl Band, Miss Vicious) on vocals and guitar, and Carla Josephson on keyboards.

The lineup that fans will hear on Saturday, when the Cherry Bombs take the stage at the Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett for a 7:30 p.m. headlining gig, includes Ms. Silvera on bass, Lola Lama and Vanessa Lynah sharing lead vocals, Ms. Trucks on drums, Nika Nesgoda on cello, Mary Goebel on keyboards, and Christopher Walsh on guitar. Tickets are $20. UR Mom, also consisting of women who have rocked the Battle of the Fantasy Girl Bands, will open the show.

Elise Trucks plays drums for the band, left, and Mary Goebel, on keyboards, is a professional pianist. Bernard Gershon and Cassandra Smith Photos

The Cherry Bombs are looking good while they're having fun, too, thanks to Ms. Silvera's professional fashion styling. "Women wearing leather and tall boots is a statement," said Ms. Lama, who is studying musical theater and drama at New York University's Tisch School. "It's not like we're giving in to an image of a beautiful girl who sings for the men's gaze. It really is taking grip of our narrative. We're scary and we're fierce and beautiful and talented and all of the above."

"We show up and bring the talent, but Yuka does so much of the behind-the-scenes stuff," Ms. Goebel said. "She's so awesome."

Funny enough, three of the Cherry Bombs -- Ms. Lama, Ms. Lynah, and Ms. Goebel -- didn't grow up in the 1980s. They weren't even born yet. But the multigenerational membership seems to be working out.

"It bridges a gap. There's a different connection for everyone," Ms. Lynah said. She called the repertoire "a gift of songs that some of the audience may not have heard before."

Ms. Goebel shared a similar sentiment. "My favorite part of the band is learning so much about New Wave '80s music, which is not a genre I knew that much about before playing with this band," she said. "My parents were big '70s fans so I heard a lot of that, and then I grew up listening to a lot of '90s and early 2000s music. There was a gap of the '80s that I am loving discovering with this band. Also, separately, it's so fun to perform and see people dance."

Because 1980s music isn't exactly known for its cello lines, Ms. Nesgoda, an artist, mother of three teenagers, and doctoral fellow at Columbia University, often finds herself writing original cello parts for the band's repertoire. She is also trained on piano and violin and will play a bit of guitar at the Talkhouse this weekend, too.

"I have so many different parts of my life," Ms. Nesgoda said. "I'm a mom, I'm writing my dissertation. This switches on different parts of my brain and helps balance everything. It's really an outlet for mental health."

The shows "are so much fun, and that's always a goal, to get things together for a show, but to me the best part is working together," Ms. Nesgoda added. "The collaboration -- helping each other through things, seeing it through, and finding our voice -- that's what it is for me."

Ms. Silvera's daughter, Emma, has played trumpet with the group, and one of Ms. Nesgoda's kids, Natalia, was a roadie for the band's show in January at the Mercury Lounge in Manhattan. Natalia, her mother said, now feels inspired to start a band of her own.

That's the kind of empowerment and example that Ms. Trucks wants to embody for her own young son.

"When I was young, I'd never had the courage to sit behind a drum set even though we had one at home. It was just really daunting," she said. "Doing it for a good cause, the Neo-Political Cowgirls, kind of gave me license to try something that I otherwise would have been shy to try. It's been a great time . . . and I 100-percent want to show my son that it's okay to get plugged in with friends to do something fun in the arts."

"It is such a fantastic story of how you can accomplish all the things you want to accomplish if you put your mind to it and put in the time and energy," said Ms. Lynah, who is a professional pastry chef in addition to singer, actor, and theatrical stage manager. She's been a Cherry Bomb since the band's summer 2023 performance at Main Beach in East Hampton Village. It gives her "a lot of openness to live the life I want to live," she said. "I'm feeling very fulfilled, artistically speaking. To be able to sing in this band is absolutely fantastic."

For Ms. Lama, the goal is to "bring people joy" as a performer, and indeed she has been doing so since she was in middle and high school in Sag Harbor, landing lead roles in many of the plays and musicals. Now, she said, "The reason I'm driven to live performance like the Cherry Bombs, rather than a film medium, is for the audience-performer communication. It feels like a really connected way of celebrating with people." 

Expanding the lineup to male musicians enabled versatile performers like Mr. Walsh, Tye Granger on multiple instruments, Peter (Bosco) Michne on guitars, and Bobby Peterson on synth to round out the sound. And as professional musicians, Ms. Goebel and Mr. Walsh add the steadiness of technical expertise. (Mr. Walsh is a news reporter for The Star, and the band gets help from Mike Guglielmo as a fill-in drummer and roadie.)

"It doesn't matter that I'm a professional," Ms. Goebel said. "I still learn from the others. It's fun and we're learning from each other, no matter what level we're at. And we have each other's back onstage."

The professionals "brought us to the next level," Ms. Silvera said. "We are evolving as a band, musically and in performance."

For those who can't make Saturday's Talkhouse show, the Cherry Bombs will perform on May 11 at the Cutting Room in Manhattan. Ms. Silvera publishes updates on the band's activities on her blog,

"We're so excited to open for them," said Christine Sciulli, a member of UR Mom and a founder, with Holly Li, of the Battle of the Fantasy Girl Bands, which rocked the Talkhouse just this past weekend. "It's amazing to see what they are doing, and they're not the only ones doing it. . . . It's one of the outcomes of the Battle that we never really anticipated. The other major outcome is the knitting together of the community of East End women who are making music and are making it their own."

News for Foodies 05.16.24

Three waterfront restaurants reopen, Canvas & Cuisine at the Parrish, Dopo Buttero shifts to French-Asian cuisine, new spirit-based seltzers.

May 15, 2024

Working: Laura Lopez of Carissa’s

Laura Lopez is a key member of the kitchen staff at Carissa's Bakery in East Hampton, making soups, dips, and sometimes acting as head chef.

May 8, 2024

News for Foodies 05.09.24

Homemade baby food from Loaves and Fishes, tequila and mezcal tasting workshop, East End farm markets reopen, Mother's Day options, and more restaurants reopen.

May 8, 2024

Your support for The East Hampton Star helps us deliver the news, arts, and community information you need. Whether you are an online subscriber, get the paper in the mail, delivered to your door in Manhattan, or are just passing through, every reader counts. We value you for being part of The Star family.

Your subscription to The Star does more than get you great arts, news, sports, and outdoors stories. It makes everything we do possible.