“My grandfather used to run a folk dance camp down around Lake Cumberland, with sessions twice a year,” says Cheryl Liz. “From age 8 until I was 21 I never missed a camp. It defined a big part of who I am, as a musician and as a person.
“I started with piano when I was 6, then about age 10 I started playing violin in the school orchestra and fiddle at the folk camps.”
Cheryl’s mother is Margo Watkins, a local singer and performer (covered in Charlie’s Beat, April 30, 2020), and her stepfather, Kevin Watkins, is owner of the venue Red Bicycle Hall (covered in Charlie’s Beat, Oct. 24, 2019). Her connections to the Madison music scene are deep on many levels.
“Mom and Kevin moved here in the late 90s when I was in college, and when I turned 21 I joined them here in Madison. There was a lot going on back then, with the Electric Lady open and JoeyG’s energizing the live music scene.
“I met a band called the Graham Crackers and they needed a fiddle player. We moved out to New Hampshire and would travel down to New York City to play gigs at C.B.’s Gallery, next door to the legendary C.B.G.B. venue. That lasted a few months and I came back.
“I learned to play guitar after that, and I showed Andrea Davidson some chords when she was starting out, too. For a couple years there Andrea was the regular opening act at the Electric Lady on Fridays, and I was the opening act on Saturdays. Those were fun years.
“But life happens, as they say. I got married, moved to Columbus, had two kids and my musical life sort of went on hold for a decade or so. Then a couple years ago I decided to dust off my guitar and shake the rust off my vocal chords.
“After the kids were put to bed I’d go into the bathroom, light a candle, and just sit there and play and write songs and record myself. It was a whole process of getting comfortable performing and hearing myself sing again.
“And it worked! My songwriting and playing got better. I started getting gigs at coffee shops around Columbus, and I started playing at my church. I met musicians Tim and Jan Grimm at church and they’ve been very supportive.
“A couple years ago I started some bands. There was the band ‘spArrow’ with me and two other women, doing original songs and three-part harmonies. There was ‘Colette’ with another friend doing some French songs. And there was a duo called the ‘IndyAnnies.’
“I feel like I’m ready now to start getting out there more, whether it’s shows or festivals or whatever. I’ve taken a long road to get to this point, but I’ve come to a place in my life when I’m free to explore and do this.
“I’m writing a lot more new songs in the last three years. And I’m using songwriting as a way to process the stuff going on in my life. I feel like I have positive vibes I can share with the world.
“So I’m making myself available now. I want to have the experience of being a musician and having people ask me to come and play. I want to blend my art with my music and maybe get into merchandise. I want to collaborate with all the great musicians who live in Madison.
“As a musician and a songwriter, I’m ready to meet the world. I’m excited to see what happens!”
Cheryl Liz recently recorded three of her songs for the House of Jane Songwriter Series. If you’d like to give a listen just go to YouTube and search “Cheryl Liz Moon Song.”
HOT TIP OF THE WEEK
The big news in live music this week might be something that’s happening NEXT week. Next Saturday, March 27, at Mad Paddle Brewery, The House Band will play their first show. You need to mark your calendar now and round up your friends for this one. It’s the first of many monthly shows with the most amazing group of local talent ever assembled. This first show will have no cover charge so everyone can get a free sample, but future shows will be ticketed. Don’t say I didn’t tell you about this one! The other big news on the live music scene is Joe Perkinson is back from his annual Florida vacation. His shows are great, and he often has a bunch of talented friends join him. Look for him at The Elks, Riverboat Inn, The Broadway and all over town!
Charlie Rohlfing is a retired advertising man and partner in The Red Bicycle Hall music venue. Look for his distinctive fedora bobbing above the crowd, anywhere live local music is happening.
This Week in Music
Thursday, March 18
Mad Paddle Brewery — Tracy & Elaine
Elks Lodge — The Famous Amy Noel
Friday, March 19
Mad Paddle Brewery — Two Buck Chuck
Off Broadway Taproom — Erik Brunner Experience
Saturday, March 20
Mad Paddle Brewery — Jordan Wilson Coalition
Off Broadway Taproom — Jimmy Davis Band