Deep in the bowels of The Jefferson Theater, forest green walls with stories to tell surround an old brown couch that’s been through it all and a mirror taken straight from the set of an eighties sci-fi tv-show. The scene is one of tranquility and casual banter as the inhabitants fasten their bandanas and touch up their eyeliner. In stark contrast, up above, a sea of neon spandex-clad, synthetic wig-wearers churns with anticipation, eager to be transported back in time. To Cathy DiToro, this is a regular Friday night.
Over the past 22 years, The Legwarmers, an eighties cover band, have built a bit of a cult following – their fans dress up in eighties attire, come to their shows, and go absolutely berserk. The crowd treats the performers as if they’re playing their own original music. The fact that they’ve gained this notoriety by performing covers is not lost on vocalist DiToro, who goes by Roxanne “Roxy” Rio on stage.
“We’re a cover band, but we’re playing national-act rooms, and we’re getting treated like that… it’s just a really special experience to be a part of – to be playing at that level and playing to so many people in these rooms,” said Ditoro.
Whether it’s someone else’s song, or something she created, music quite literally flows through her veins. Born to parents who both majored in music and with a grandfather who taught Billy Joel, DiToro began learning piano from her mother at the age of three. By age five she was “the weird little kid that could spit bars.”
She learned guitar from her father in her twenties and began searching out bands to join on Craigslist. After landing in the middle of a ska band called “Party Like It’s…,” DiToro connected with the guys from The Legwarmers in 2015. While she enjoys playing classics from decades past to packed music venues, the dream is one familiar to many artists fighting for fame or fortune – to go on tour world-wide. That dream, however, is not so easy to achieve.
“Being a full time original artist is near impossible these days because the return on original music is just not enough to pay your bills,” said DiToro. “We’re one among billions in a sea of the internet, and so trying to get people to see our stuff or hear our stuff, that's really the name of the game. And it is a game.”
So what kind of music does an eighties cover band front woman create when given the chance? Songs heavily influenced by the nineties, obviously. Ditoro says her original music is reminiscent of the musicians she grew up with – Green Day, The Cranberries, and Gwen Stefani to name a few. The music she learned to play on piano when she was just a kid.
While the music is clearly a priority, what she really enjoys is making meaningful connections with her fans and fellow band members. She loves that even during small acoustic shows at bars playing to just a handful of people, she can play a song that resonates with a stranger and a connection can form.
“You just bond to people instantly through the music… it’s the most powerful connector… it crosses genres, races,” she said. “When I see or I feel the fun, or the happiness, or the emotion of other people getting into it, whether it’s one of my songs or a song they know, that’s it for me. That’s the ultimate.”
And the fans of The Legwarmers? They get into it.
“My time with [The Legwarmers] has just been life changing for me and opened a lot of cool opportunities,” said DiToro. “It’s been such a wild and crazy ride.”