Cathy Sandage

2010 - Women Who Rock

Cathy Sandage was born in Sioux City . She’s had a love for music since early childhood when she and her sisters sang Connie Francis songs from their swing set.  She was 15 in 1969 when she auditioned for a band called “Odd Buzzard” at the encouragement of the group’s drummer, John Wells. She sang behind a microphone for the first time on a Tuesday night and that Saturday she was on stage singing publicly.

Cathy was the lead singer for several bands during the early 1970’s. She played all over the area at high school dances, homecomings, and proms, as well as in clubs in Omaha, Lincoln, and Sioux Falls , not to mention hometown night spots like The Dunes and The Loft. She had no formal training and knew nothing about playing music but began to learn from the talented musicians in those early bands. In the “Franklin Carter Band” the focus was on vocals.  Most of their material included well-rehearsed three-part harmonies.

Cathy learned to sing harmony from songs like Buffalo Springfield’s “Rock and Roll Woman” and later Crosby Stills and Nash’s “Helplessly Hoping” and Suite’s “Judy Blue Eyes”.  She loved it and it is still her favorite part of playing music today.

In 1974 Cathy married Sioux City musician George Larvick. She had never played an instrument before but with George’s help she started to learn piano. There was a lot to learn!  Soon they had a chance to play as a duo which would require her debut as a piano player, ready or not. Cathy had all sorts of notes taped to the top of the very used, electric Wurlitzer piano; how to play an F#, what chords are in a “c” progression. It was high anxiety those first weeks. George always reminded her to shut her piano off for those fifteen minute breaks so it wouldn’t overheat. More than once Cathy remembers reaching to turn it off only to find it had been off for that entire set.

Even with that rocky start, Cathy loved playing an instrument and eagerly learned as much as she could. By 1979 she was appearing solo five nights a week at the popular Sand Bar and Galley in Sioux City. Taking a great leap of faith she quit her day job and became a full-time musician. She found playing music was completely different when it was your only means of support. She worked harder and enjoyed it more.

Cathy moved to Midland, TX in 1980 to sing with an 11-piece group called ‘The Yellow Rose Band.’ Rehearsals were five hours long, five days a week. Being a part of that band was an incredible experience. They shared the bill with Mel Tillis at the Midland Chapparell Center playing to over 9,000 people.

When Cathy returned to Sioux City she performed solo at the J.R. Ranch Supper Club six nights a week for nearly two years. In 1984 she and Randy Peters formed the ‘Sandage and Peters Band.’ Building off of Cathy and Randy’s polished vocals the band was successful locally and on the road.

Cathy teamed up with Barbara Jean Baldwin in the late 80’s showcasing their harmonies at clubs like the First Edition and the Paddock. Since 1990 Cathy has worked with guitarist Mickey Lee Petersen. Their musical partnership has no end in sight…too much fun.

For her many years of spreading the joys of quality rock and roll music to people all over the country, Cathy Sandage is inducted, in the ‘Women Who Rocked’ category, into the IRRMA Hall of Fame in 2010.

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