Stargazer Lily

April 4th, 2016

Girls, rock.

Scooter, Steph Hayes, Susan Rosetti, Jim Miades - Stargazer Lily circa 2004

Scooter, Steph Hayes, Susan Rosetti, Jim Miades
Stargazer Lily circa 2004

Recordings:
Big In Texas [as Starlazer Gilly] (2005)
Young Professionals Release Concert (DVD; 2005)
Young Professionals (2004)
The Lift And The Drag (2002)
That’s OK, I Can Sleep At Work (2000)
Pixie-Led [as Cory] (1998)

Online:
http://www.stargazer-lily.com
http://www.facebook.com/Stargazer-Lily

I have a long list of artists that I’d like to profile here, and while perusing that list (yes, there’s an actual list) for my next entry I noticed that all of my articles thus far have been exclusively man-heavy. That certainly wasn’t intentional, as I absolutely love me some lady rock. I’ve actually been listening to a metric ton of girly bands lately, including Elizabeth & the Catapult, Butterfly Boucher, Fiona Apple, Kate Miller-Heidke, Erin McCarley, Secret Someones, Maia Sharp, Grace Potter, Ali Wadsworth, Rachael Yamagata, Dia Frampton, Arc Divers, Lelia Broussard, Jenny Owen Youngs, Darcie Miner, Liz Longley, Mieka Pauley, April Smith & The Great Picture Show, KT Tunstall, Bess Rogers, Joss Stone, Madi Diaz, P!nk, Erin McKeown, Halsey, Stacie Collins, Corinne Bailey Rae, Lenka, Tracy Bonham, Kelly Clarkson, whew… and I’m not even going to mention how ridiculously in love I am with Sara Bareilles‘ voice and music (and brown eyes). And if Natalie Imbruglia told me she wanted to kiss me right now, I’d seriously consider leaving my wife. Hell, I actually own all of Katy Perry’s records (even the Unplugged album!!) To remedy my lack of lady love here, I’ve got a trio of ass-kicking female musical acts lined up to help even the scales. For the first one, I decided to stay local.

Circa 2002

Circa 2002

Stargazer Lily was a constant on Philadelphia’s music scene for the first half of the 00’s and then sort-of-all-of-a-sudden disbanded in 2005, right as they were releasing their last record. Indeed, they billed their “Final Show” as a CD release show for that album. Strangely enough, years after they broke up they would still pop up a couple times a year for a show – and even talked about coming out with new material. They recently have – sort of – and even kinda changed the line-up a little, but that’s a complicated story I’ll try to synopsize later. It’s a little confusing and frustrating, but I do know this – for 5 years of my life I was a highly dedicated (perhaps obsessive) fan of their infectious pop/rock, and of the over 700 (!) bands I’ve seen play live, they are the one I have seen the most – and they still hold that title even after 10+ years of not really playing out. They were the first Philly band I attached myself to, and a major reason I’m such a song freak now – they introduced me to a lot of music. I can trace many a favorite band back to them, as they played with just about every other local band at some point, not to mention at probably 15 or more local venues. I have to admit I was captivated by their seemingly genuine, honest, down-to-earth quality as people almost as much as by their music, and it kept me glued to their career and hopeful for their future success.


“Discotheque”

I vividly remember seeing them play for the first time, opening for Mike Doughty (formerly of Soul Coughing) at North Star – August 16, 2000. My then-girlfriend and I were hanging out in the bar waiting for him to come on, but we could hear the opening act’s music bleeding through the wall. It sounded promising. I’m normally very into giving opening bands a listen, but at the time we were deep in a billiards battle. We decided we needed to go check ’em out, and the first song I remember hearing in full was “Discotheque” – which starts off with this ear-catching lyric:

“I told you to fuck off and you did”

Well, all right! Nice to meet ya!

After that got my attention, they kept it – with a tight set of catchy, impassioned songs with sharp lyrics, and some seriously fantastic harmonizing vocals courtesy of co-frontwomen Sue Rosetti and Steph Hayes. Their voices are quite different, but man… they sure melt together perfectly. Musically, they’re mostly acoustic-based but with plenty of electric guitar when needed, complemented by solidly slightly funky bass and some crack drumming from Jimmy Sunshine and Scooter. They seemed to be having a whole lot of fun, too, and it was downright contagious. I was hooked.

Cory's "Pixie-Led"

Cory's Pixie-Led

Shortly thereafter, I heard some of their songs on the local alt-radio station’s local music show and I signed up for their mailing list before I could get to another show and finally buy some CDs. Turns out Steph and Sue had been playing together for a little while, bumping into each other at open mic’s in the mid-90’s, then starting out with a different set of bandmates in a group called Cory, which released a record called Pixie-Led in 1998 (they still played the majority of those songs as Stargazer Lily and continued to sell that CD at their shows).

Highlights :

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“Explode”

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“Back To Your Garage”

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“Better Than Beethoven”

They broke away from that group and briefly signed a development deal with Arista Records as a duo, spent some time in LA working on “writing radio gems” with music industry hit-makers, but were somewhat traumatized by that experience before finally getting out back on their own again as Stargazer Lily with Jim and Scooter in tow. After being a part of the crowd at their shows, you begin to see why other people saw star-quality in them. Steph is a powerhouse singer and songwriter with emotion to spare – it seems like she’s lived a few lives in her short time so far, and she isn’t afraid to bare it all in a song. Susan, meanwhile, is more than just the eye-candy she can easily be (she’s fucking cute and sexy as hell, that’s for sure) – she’s the kind of singer you can’t take your eyes off of even when she’s not singing. She grabs you and brings you into her world until you take every turn she’s taken, and it’s hard to not feel her pain when she’s singing of heartbreak. She makes you feel like you’re the only person at the show. Hell, you might even catch her winking at you in the middle of a tune. In the name of full disclosure, it wasn’t long before I had developed a major crush on her. Shit, who didn’t?

Hey, Susan... how YOU doin'?

Hey, Susan... how YOU doin'?

But I digress. This is a music blog, right? Right-o. This band’s sound is a melange of varied influences that mix together to create their own brand of pop – it’s not quite folky but not quite full-on rock, but could go either way depending on the tune. There’s an obvious country influence (more on that later), there are some jazz roots (especially in Scooter’s drumming), and you might hear bongos or a harmonica or someone beat-boxing in any given song. And those vocals – ah, those harmonies. It’s probably their calling card, but on the other hand it’s not like every word is sung in two parts. They don’t go all Crosby, Stills & Nash on you (yeah, I know that’s three). The girls tend to write their own songs separately and then the band “completes” the song after it’s been brought to the table, with the girls trading off on lead vocals, usually (but not always) based on who wrote it. At least that’s as far as I can tell – they only have a combined total of 3 songs they are credited as having co-written together. (I’m not counting half of the songs on That’s OK, I Can Sleep At Work, which doesn’t have any album artwork or credits – the other half were also recorded for other records). If you had to sum up their music, which is never a good thing to do, you might say it like this – because they have, and it’s basically their motto: “Song-driven melodic rock that packs love, anger, wit, pain, joy, and sex into 3 minutes and 15 seconds.” Yeah, bring it on. I can handle that.


“Can’t Handle It”

My first time seeing them up close was at a book store a couple months later. It was out in the ‘burbs on the Main Line (look it up). Borders Books used to be a sweet place to see a local band play an acoustic gig for free. Those were heady times. I miss you, Borders Books! So my ex and I get there and we’re super early. The band is still setting up, so we shop around a little. There are a small handful of seats and we score a couple when they’re ready to go; the crowd is sparse but picks up when they start playing. Being a book store, there are plenty of kids around. So… then, this happens…

“I told you to step off and you did…”

Ha! My ex and I share a glance and a grin, and then Susan straight up returns the favor when we turn back to the band. I feel like I’m in the club. Their short set was fabulous. I swear I think I remember most of what they played. I was about 5 feet away from their gear. Got to buy the two CDs they had for sale then. Wore them out. I love Philadelphia.


“Bottomless” Live @ World Cafe Live – April 22, 2005

They were also regulars at the Brownie’s Y100 local music spotlight shows in Ardmore during the colder months of 2000-2001 (before Brownie’s turned evil and went cover band). I saw them at least 4 times there, including my 100th concert ever in May of 2001. These shows were a direct tie-in with the Y100 local music show that was spinning their songs early on. Those shows were fantastic… cheap, regular, sponsored, and included a slew of other great bands. I got to see K-Floor, Pepper’s Ghost & Cliff Hillis there. I also got to see Townhall, McGowan, Ike, the Thompson Brothers (future Mummies!) & Stephen Kellogg right around that time (at other venues), all for the first time, and all thanks to Stargazer Lily. I can’t even begin to imagine my musical life and memories and library and knowledge without them.

The Dave & Buster's crowd, circa 2001

The Dave & Buster's crowd, circa 2001

But I really got to know them best at Dave & Buster’s (yeah, the arcade/game restaurant/bar), of all places. They had an extended residency on the river deck on Thursdays during the summers of 2001 and 2002 – and they played for FREE. I was there for 11 of those shows, and there were probably 15 to 20 or so, total. One of those shows’ setlist was completely by request, and they probably played a half dozen that I yelled out. Those were good times. Those were pretty casual times, too. There was no “back stage”, the band just hung out at a table talking to their friends in between sets. That was the first time I got to chat with Susan, as I just flagged her down once when she was walking by our table. We wanted to give the band a little something as a thank you for giving us so many free shows on the deck. She was very appreciative of us for thinking of them, and that’s when she started knowing who I was. I never really ever talked to Steph or the guys, I guess I was too blinded by Susan. Sometimes the crowds at these gigs were pretty packed, but since they played them so regularly, there could also be some pretty light crowds… if you had to miss one, there was always another one next week. And I was able to say hey and what-not, semi-regularly, and Sue sure seemed super nice. Cue crush.

lilylogo

They didn’t even really have a proper album at the time! They had the Cory LP, but it wasn’t really Stargazer Lily, per se, and it was only 8 songs long. They cobbled together a disc of (basically) demos that they had in their pocket during the Arista Records development deal days, the afore-mentioned That’s OK, I Can Sleep At Work, and sold that at shows, disc-only, in a shell case. They often complained it wasn’t a real record (I don’t think Scooter and Jim played on it, the label still owned the recordings) and mentioned they were piecing together a new album with a full plate of tunes and art and everything. It took them a little while, working with producer Phil Niccolo on the cheap whenever studio time was randomly available, but they cranked it out and put out a superbly fine album called The Lift & The Drag in October of 2002.

<i>The Lift And The Drag</i>, 2002

The Lift And The Drag

Highlights:

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“Christopher”

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“Middle America”

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“Quintessential”

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“Imaginary Me”

I remember being a little frustrated that the album had a lot of already well-known tunes of theirs on it, re-recorded for that release. Songs off of both of their previous records. Only 5 new tunes. It was a little like a greatest hits jam, with a small handful of new tracks added on top. Truth be told, as far as I recall, they just wanted something they could sell that was theirs, that they owned. This was their first official real Stargazer Lily album and they wanted it to be all them, and they wanted to include some of their more popular tunes. Can’t really fault them for that. But they also were playing out a lot and were in the middle of some kind of prolific, creative streak. New songs were popping up in sets like crazy. I remember asking Susan after a show at NXNW in early 2002 about the upcoming record, and she lamented that it was mostly old songs while they had all these great new ones. It took a while for them to simply get all those recordings done, as well. Stretch out that process and it’s inevitable newer songs will show up the farther you get into it. Besides the ones that would end up on their Young Professionals LP, like “Crush”, I remember a few of those tunes… like “You Go”, a really cool number sung by Susan that will probably never be heard ever again, “On” by Steph, which was recorded in 2004 (but didn’t make the record, and is an awesomely sexy, dirty song), would show up as a new release 6 years after their “final show”. They were also playing a few back then that would end up on the Starlazer Gilly record, like “What’s Wrong With Me”. The only other one I really remember from that era that went unreleased, and how could you forget it… was “The Porno Song”.

starstick

I can’t even really begin to do justice in describing the ridiculously fucking awesome experience that was hearing “The Porno Song”. It’s very tongue-in-cheek, but it’s also just plain bitingly brilliant and catchy and hilarious. And FONKY! You know that stereotypical “bow chicka bow bow” sound that people make when they want to refer to cheesy porn from the 70’s, or maybe they just want to insinuate that someone’s fucking? Yeah, they actually PLAY that in the song. It’s not the main riff, but it’s in the bridge, so the song builds up to it, and when it hits, people just lose their goddamn minds. Or at least I did. The main verse sound is very rhythmic, there are lots of drum toms being hit and stuff. Or so I think. This is all from memory, like 10 years ago… and I only heard it twice. Sue and Steph sing in harmony in the verses, things like… “he’s got… two girls… you’ve got… one” and something about how this one girl is twice as fun… maybe. (So the narrator in the song intimates that they’re watching porn with their lover but he doesn’t need a threesome, because she is all he needs). And then there’s a great line about the “money shot”. Halfway through, they pause, and Jimmy walks over from his position on bass to get on the PA (he’s not normally mic’d), he calmly knocks on the mic – the girls sexily say “who is it?” – and he replies “somebody order a pizza?” with this outrageous grin… recreating the classic porn scene… and then they just go right back into the song. Fucking fantastic. I can’t believe they didn’t play this more often and I CANNOT believe it isn’t on Youtube SOMEWHERE! Jesus H. Christ. Someone out there has this on tape in some way, shape or form. Please get at me. PLEASE.

But once again, I digress. They were playing to packed houses all over town, including that celebratory, crowning CD release show in late 2002 (where they debuted their cover of Cake covering themselves. what? yes.) When that record came out, I swore up and down that they would get snatched up as some huge band’s support act, play theaters and arenas, and I would hardly see them in town anymore. Their music is fucking tailor-made for radio play. They’re attractive, they’re fun, they’re nice, they write great, catchy songs. What the hell happened? I wish I knew! But what I did know, I was still lucky enough to be able to see them play on a regular basis. 25 times in 2001-2002 alone, and now 47 times in total (including 10 since their “final” show). My favorite places to see them were The Point, where they just shook the pillars of that little coffeehouse, and Tin Angel, which is so small and used to more acoustic, quieter acts… but when that joint was packed and they were at full volume? Man, you couldn’t beat that kind of energy.


“That’s The Way You Do It”
An often set-closing, house-down-bringing kind of song.

But while they would play the occasional show outside of Philly, up and down the East Coast, they didn’t really catch on outside of town for some ungodly reason. I was stumped. They finally decided to take some time to make another record, and it probably didn’t take quite as long as the last one. Young Professionals finally arrived in the fall of 2004. There was what seemed like a pretty decent push at the time of the album’s release. Lots of local press. A fancy video for the lead single “Stay True”. A big CD Release Show at the new World Cafe Live (the big room downstairs, even) that they recorded for DVD release. But for some weird reasons I can’t really explain or understand, that was seemingly the beginning of the end for the band. In just 6 months they would play their “final show” and release their final album, Big In Texas (as Starlazer Gilly).

So… what the fuck?

<em>Young Professionals</em>

Young Professionals

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“Young Professionals”

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“Kiss Me”

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“Defying Gravity”

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“I Belong”

I know, I don’t get it. What I do know is that perhaps the Young Professionals record was a bit uneven. I admit I don’t love every song. It had some really great, fun, rockin’ tunes like “Stay True”, and “Kiss Me” is perhaps one of their repertoire’s strongest. Man, that song is a gem. They expanded their sound a bit with some different things like horns, beat-boxing, different vocal effects and time signatures. And I’m usually all for that kind of stretching, but maybe it just didn’t resonate as well. Maybe the songs they chose were just not as good. Maybe they rushed it a little bit. Who knows. Myself, I was a little confused why they hadn’t put on a couple of the other, newer tunes they had been playing out. But they were saving some of those.


“Stay True”

Somewhere around just before Young Professionals and continuing until the release of Big In Texas, they started playing mini-sets-within-the-set of their shows as an alter-ego of sorts. They would all put on cowboy hats (literally) and announce themselves as Starlazer Gilly and play a chunk of songs that perhaps had a bit of a country-tinge to them. I think I even recall that they were playing a festival or something somewhere once and their band name had been misspelled like that, and they dug it and decided to use it! (It does sound vaguely like a mash-up of Vince Gill and Conway Twitty, don’t you think?) They even worked up a version of “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash that was wicked as shit, and it would routinely end their sets (or at least the set-within-the-set). They done gone country! At least for a little while. So they decided to go full-throttle and put out a whole record of these twang-flavored songs and use the alter-ego for the band title (why the hell not!) and managed to finish that fucker up 6 months after the last one. Yee-haw! And it’s a good record, too. I kind of forgot how good – so much so that I couldn’t pare the highlights down to just a few! It’s a bit of a hoe down, with some great tunes, great guests and great performances. Steph wrote all of the original songs, so I guess Sue just didn’t have enough drawl to draw from. I can relate.

<i>Big In Texas</i>

Big In Texas

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“Heartache Honey”

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“When Pigs Fly”

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“What’s Wrong With Me”

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“Trashed”

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“Sunday”

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“Reverse Psychology”

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“Starving Artist”

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“Ring Of Fire”

So when they announced the new album’s release would also double as their final show as a band, to say it was bittersweet was the understatement of the decade. It was bewildering, befuddling, confusing and downright rage-causing. I still don’t get it. But to their credit, they didn’t really expound much on why. There wasn’t a whole lot of drama on the outside. It all seemed pretty amicable, at least to the observer. I kept the ticket stub to that show displayed on my desk for about 8 years. I’m also pretty sure they filmed that show, too… saying it would eventually get a DVD release, as well. Nope. (Though a few songs came out online later… God Bless Bill Drummer… “Kiss Me”, “That’s The Way You Do It”, “What’s Wrong With Me” and as seen above, “Bottomless” – where I found myself and my buddy Jim in the crowd shot!) Even more confusing? They played their first show after their “final” show a mere month and a half later. Granted, it was just Sue and Steph as a duo, but that also left you wondering if the boys in the band were the ones causing the split. And then Jim played a gig with the girls as a trio just a couple months after that. And then you’re thinking it’s all Scooter’s fault. And then you’re thinking… why not just get a new drummer? And then they played a full-band reunion show not a month after THAT. And then you’re just like… wha?

This is the end?

This is the end?

It certainly didn’t seem to be anything to do with Sue and Steph not wanting to play together. Indeed, somewhere in there they’d gotten a gig as back-up singers for Mike “Slo-Mo” Brenner, a local guitarist and singer/songwriter who specializes in lap slide. They would often play opening sets for him as a duo and play Stargazer tunes, then sing during his set. Then the band announced that Jim was moving to England, and they played a full-band “send off” for him in July of 2006. And then that seemed like the end of that. But then Jim was home for Christmas later that year and they played another gig as a trio without Scooter. Man, confusion reigned. But it was also great! Because they kept getting together occasionally to play those songs. Totally not complaining. But hey, might as well be a band again, right? They’ve never relinquished their band website, either – though it hasn’t been updated since 2006. But somebody’s paying for that thing to exist.

Live @ Tin Angel - July 12, 2006

Live @ Tin Angel - July 12, 2006 (click for more)

Jim must have moved back to the States in short order, because they still would play together occasionally, though not quite as often. Then, over the course of 2008/9/10, they played a handful of gigs as a full band and even talked about new songs? What? Were they like, for real for real, getting the band back together? They even gave away download cards for an actual new recording of a song called “With Love” in 2011 (paired with an unreleased recording from the Young Professionals sessions of the song “On” [there it is!]) – and that’s also when I found out that the original title to that record was going to be Lovesickened (after the song). And that Sue & Steph co-wrote that new jam, which is pretty sweet. AND also that “On” was co-written by Jen Hughes, their omnipresent merch girl/tour manager/partner-in-crime/BFF/cohort/etc. Also pretty sweet. Fucking hell, new Stargazer Lily songs. In 2011. I almost peed my pants.

(not an actual cassette)

(not an actual cassette)

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“With Love”

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“On”

Although, frankly, I didn’t overly love “With Love”. It’s a little dirge-y and probably a bit repetitive, with some intro/outro programmed drums that annoy me, but it’s got great harmonies and trade-off co-vocals, and picks up some steam as it goes. I also was less than highly impressed by another newer tune they were playing around that time – “California Girls” (also thought it was a little slow, but the bridge is great!). They certainly weren’t bad by any means, though… God, no… and they were still creating music together! Fuck YES. There were also indications there were plenty more demos or recording attempts happening then. It just didn’t move much beyond that.

Live @ the Grape - 5.6.11 (click for more)

Live @ the Grape – 5.6.11 (click for more)

And then, it came to light via a cover story in a local alt-weekly that Steph was, in fact… transitioning to become a man, and legally changed his name to Stephan. I was just like, hmm! All right… It was pretty clear early on that Steph was gay. She certainly didn’t hide it on stage and no one gave a shit; there was a healthy gay contingent in the band’s audience. So what. To hear that she indeed felt as though she needed to completely change her gender (think about what that entails, physically and medically and psychologically) and have her talk about it in such a public way… you can’t help but feel all kinds of empathy for her. Him. He is one courageous, brave-as-fuck person. Right on, Steph. Do what you gotta do. I actually started writing this long, long before I knew of his transition, and I hope I am not offending him, but frankly don’t feel like I need to re-write the article – I think it fits nicely where it is, in my sort-of chronological tale. So she will remain she before, but is he now. Steph is Steph. I’m happy for you, dude!

Steph is The Man.  Or at least one of them.  Welcome to the team!

Steph is The Man. Or at least one of them. Welcome to the team!

But let’s go back in time a smidge. In the non-Stargazer Lily-ish part of their lives, post-band, they were up to lots of musical (and other) things. Steph pretty much immediately started a couple other bands, of course. I think she needed as many writing outlets as possible. Shooting Ropes was a bit of a punk band (with a great, disgusting name) that made a few solid recordings and played some gigs but never really put out a full album. She also played a lot of gigs with “her” band The Good Problems and they put out a nice record called Dirty Beauty in 2006. Quite unfortunately, I never saw either of them play. She played with Chris Schultz & The Tourists, too. She then put out a couple of officially solo records – the live acoustic album Mostly True Stories in 2008 and the double-EP studio effort Made to Change which came out in 2010 right as he was beginning his transition. Steph also regularly used to host an Open Mic at the Grape Room in Philly, which is coincidentally owned by…

Scooter. Stargazer Lily used to frequent the original Grape Street Pub in Philly, but then Grape Street Philadelphia (which was on… Main Street) moved from that spot. The original location of the pub was then bought and re-opened by Scooter as The Grape Room after Grape Street Philadelphia closed. Stargazer Lily has played a healthy dose of their post-break-up reunion shows at the Grape. I don’t get there often, but every time I’ve been, Scooter is working the bar. The quintessential owner/operator. Nice. I don’t know of any other musical efforts Scooter has been involved in since, other than drumming with Steph in some recent solo shows of his.

Live @ World Cafe Live 12/31/06 (click for more)

Live @ World Cafe Live 12/31/06 (click for more)

Steph has very recently (2016) hosted some more open mics at the Grape and even played some gigs, but has stopped keeping an official music website, which is unfortunate. He lived in a China for a couple years and also got married in there somewhere. But hasn’t put out any official music for sale and hasn’t been quite as active playing live, since transitioning, as far as I know. Bummer. In the cover story above, it said he was essentially re-writing or transposing his entire catalog due to his voice being lower. Sounds kind of daunting? He also evidently has (or had) plans to release some music soon-ish, and you can hear some more recent stuff on his Reverb Nation site, which is very good news. And sounds pretty good, too. Let’s hope it makes its way out there!


The showstopping “Train Song”, live @ The Grape – May 7, 2011

Susan is heavy into animals, and dogs especially. So much so that she started a web series of sorts about dog behavior and called herself Soozy Pooch. Like this one. She also has a website and company as a dog behaviorist for hire. I also just found a few songs she played for kids as part of the Soozy Pooch Crew as recent as 2012! Those songs are too cute. For the adults, she also started another band in 2011 called Ella Dars, which released a few songs and a video around then, playing sporadically over a few years. They were very folky and laid back, not a lot of drums, and a healthy amount of uke & banjo. I was actually at the Grape seeing a friend’s band in the summer of 2011 when another friend came to that show and mentioned she was at North Star earlier that night and noticed Stargazer Lily on the bill. I was like… naaaaaaaah. Then she said it was maybe something about “members of” Stargazer Lily. It ended up being Susan fronting her new band (with former members of Cory!), and I still don’t know “who” Ella Dars is. Sadly, I only saw them play that one time and as far as I can tell, they haven’t played a gig since 2013. She has also recently been drumming (!) & singing for colorful, groovin’ cover band The Primaries. Nice wigs, ladies.

I don’t know what the hell Jimmy Sunshine might be up to, but I hope he’s having as much fun right now as he looks like he is when he’s playing bass. He had been playing with Malone & McWilliams and Mary Hawkins, according to the band website long ago – and I swear I saw him walking his dog in Manayunk several years back.


“With Love” May 7, 2011 @ The Grape. I like it better live.

So… back in 2011, after they released an actual new song (the aforementioned “With Love”), and after Steph announced his transition, they got together again for a big show – at the TLA. This is a larger venue they’ve never headlined, to my knowledge, and plenty of nationally-known acts have played it. I’ve seen something like 70 shows there, myself. They teamed up with Ike (local stalwarts, themselves), whom I first saw play on a bill with… Stargazer Lily. John Faye and Ike put together a fantastic, all-local line-up for a CD-release show for Ike’s new EP on the date 11.11.11 – what better date for a show could there be? (“Eleven eleven” is actually a song [track 12!] on Ike’s 2008 record Where To Begin). I would have gone just for Ike, but throw in some Stargazer Lily and I am SO THERE. And I could not have been more psyched. It flew in under the radar, but I heard Susan say on stage “and introducing Stephan Hayes”, which was nice. No big whoop. Just doing his thing. AND… they played, like, loads of new NEW songs?! It’s all pretty foggy to me now, but I swear I heard 3 or 4 brand spankin’ new tunes, and I vividly remember a couple of them being very, very good. Here’s a partial clip of one of those – “Clutches” (or at least I think that’s the title). Awesome sauce.

“Clutches” live @ TLA – 11.11.11

This was only a couple months after Steph’s cover story, where it was mentioned that the band was “back in the studio”. At the time, I got overly excited about possible new recordings, but it just… never happened. I suppose that simply could have been referring to the sessions that produced “With Love”. Was there more to come? Steph moved to China, which didn’t help. But he’s been back for a little while now… (and actually, apparently climbing Mount Everest at this very moment?!) He said they didn’t want to become a “reunion band” and they didn’t want to relive the past. I am all for that, but all you gotta do is put out some new stuff! Come on! #bottomless

The last thing that they did as a band, that I know of, was play a random show in late July of 2014 (at The Grape, natch) some time after Steph came back to the US for a bit (I think he was just making a birthday visit). I literally found out about the gig 2 days beforehand because I am a little out of touch on the interwebs, but I was already on vacation and out of the state. I was severely sad. I haven’t seen any footage make it online, so no new song clips… me = bummed. They also evidently gave away a bunch of their old merch… which makes me think it was almost kind of a send-off. Hmmm. But they did play new songs! To make things worse, some band calling themselves The Stargazer Lilies (from Pennsylvania!) started gigging a few years ago and are about to release their second record. Their music isn’t terribly exciting. And it confuses the hell out of web searches.

11.11.11 : On stage at the TLA playing NEW SONGS!

11.11.11 : On stage at the TLA playing NEW SONGS! (click for more)

RIGHT NOW, in 2016, this is what I know about Stargazer Lily: they at one point in the recent past either WERE or had PLANS to record again (Steph’s bio on Reverb Nation says as much), but I don’t know how recent those plans were or if they are even still, in fact, plans. Steph is back in the states and working on music, Susan’s not regularly gigging with anybody else… sure feels like it’s high time to get back to work. I certainly hope they do.

I started writing this article in May of 2010. Just saying.