THE BERGEN RECORD
Friday, April 26, 2002
By TOM DUNPHY
Special to The Record
When Marian Mastrorilli was growing up in
Cliffside Park, she'd sing along all day to the
rock hits that wafted over the radio: Queen, Led
Zeppelin, Pink Floyd. But when someone entered the
room, she'd immediately clam up. "The music lurked
inside me, but I didn't have the confidence to sing
in public," she says.
That's sure changed. Mastrorilli now fronts her
own band, Project Mercury. "Light this Candle," the
Nyack, N.Y.-based band's debut CD, is a confident,
sparkling collection of folk-rock tunes penned by
Project Mercury will perform several of those
songs during an appearance at 4 p.m. Saturday at
the New Jersey Folk Festival at Rutgers University.
Mastrorilli won that organization's annual
songwriting competition this year. "I think it's a
sign of good things to come," Mastrorilli says of
the award. "It's one step further."
Mastrorilli, 41, didn't start singing in public
until she was well into her 20s. She kicked around
the New York-New Jersey coffeehouse circuit singing
and playing acoustic guitar and met
singer-violinist Charlene Donohue, her main
collaborator, via an online musicians' classified
listing. Guitarist Kevin Wager rounds out the
band's permanent lineup.
The two women's voices meld tightly on "Light
This Candle." Project Mercury rockets from the
bluesy swing of "Champagne Afternoon" and the
breezy beach pop of "Then I Remember" to the
Eastern-tinged Zeppelinesque stomp of "Enemy
Lines." "At Palisades" is a folky homage to the
late Palisades Amusement Park, which Mastrorilli
visited often as a youngster. "We don't even have
pictures of us there, that's how often we went
there," she recalls. "It closed before I was even
old enough to ride the Cyclone."
"Please Don't," on the other hand, is a stark
tale of an acquaintance of Mastrorilli's who was
held captive in her home for a few hours by a known
killer and talked the man out of harming her.
Mastrorilli performed the song for her friend
privately and gained her blessing before singing it
in public. "That's not one we perform every time,"
Mastrorilli says. "It's very draining."
Mastrorilli tries to keep her songwriting style
simple yet effective. "I'm purely moved by
something that moves me or inspires me," she says.
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Copyright © 2002 North Jersey Media Group