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 straight from the set of a 1980s sci-fi TV-show.
It’s a scene of tranquility and casual banter as the occupants fasten bandanas and touch up their eyeliner in stark contrast to one floor up where a sea of neon spandex-clad, synthetic wig-wearers churns with the anticipation of time travel.
To Cathy DiToro, it’s just another Friday night.
Over the past 22 years, DiToro and her colleagues in The Legwarmers, a 80s cover band, have built a bit of a cult following. Their fans dress up in vintage attire and come to their shows to let it all out and go absolutely berserk.
The crowd treats the performers as if the songs are all their own and the band is playing its own original music. The fact that they’ve gained such fandom and 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 is in 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 five she was “the weird little kid that could spit bars.”
She learned guitar from her father in her 20s 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, she has a dream familiar to many artists fighting for fame or fortune, to go on world-wide tour. 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 a 80s cover band front woman create when given the chance?
Why, songs heavily influenced by the 90s, of course.
DiToro says her original music is reminiscent of the musicians she grew up with such as Green Day, The Cranberries, and Gwen Stefani, the music she learned to play on piano when she was just a kid.
But music is more than songs in the air and notes on a page. DiToro enjoys making meaningful connections with her fans and fellow band members.
She loves that, even during small acoustic shows at bars and playing to just a handful of people, she can play a song that resonates with a stranger and form a connection.
“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 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.”