Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

January 10, 2013

True punks

Andover couple back performing punk rock again

Judy Wakefield
Staff Writer

---- — She’s a boomer and proud of it.

“I love this chapter in life. I like to learn and to keep interested...these are the best years,” said Karen Payne-Taylor, who has the perfect job - she runs the BoomerVenture program at the Center at Punchard behind Town Offices.

But what a road it’s been for Payne-Taylor and her guitar-playing husband, Christopher Payne-Taylor. The couple used to play in a punk band together named Karyn Satin and the Bedsheets. It was the early 1980s when they dreamily left Florida in hopes of making it big as a punk band in the Big Apple. Their fourth-floor walk-up on Manhattan’s lower east side was so hip, just like their friends. Included were members of the band the Ramones, a man named Cheetah Chrome and a woman named Elda Stiletto, who played a mean bass guitar and was good friends with Deborah Harry (a.k.a. Blondie), they said. They hit the big clubs like Maxim and CBGB, and took all sorts of low paying jobs to cover the rent.

They played and rehearsed their hard punk music in a cellar studio called the Pit and listened as their musical friends delivered loud, dark lyrics about love, lust, pain and spirituality.

“It was the first generation of punk and it was reckless,” said a now very different Christopher Payne-Taylor, while sitting in the living room of his comfortable home on Summer Street.

Sharing those memories from some 30 years ago made the couple laugh a lot and sort of helps to explain why they are back in the saddle, so to speak. They love to perform music.

There’s no Karyn Satin or Pit practices or fourth-floor walk-ups. The couple has regrouped and is performing gigs around Andover using their real names. They still practice in a cellar but it’s a quaint music room in the basement of the pretty house they own in Andover.

They performed at Holiday Happenings last month and will perform at an opening reception at the Essex Arts Center in Lawrence tomorrow night, Jan. 11 (see sidebar). They will also perform for an upcoming Andover Youth Services benefit.

Karen Payne-Taylor, a classically trained singer who has performed on famed stages including Carnegie Hall and Jordan Hall in Boston, said the New York scene eventually got old. They wanted a family and knew living in a neighborhood with more addicts than playgrounds was not what they wanted.

“It was time to be an adult and that’s what we wanted,” Karen Payne-Taylor said.

Her husband worked in marketing and the couple moved to Boston. They started out in Jamaica Plain and moved to Andover 16 years ago. Christopher now works at Avid in Burlington, a company that creates digital audio and video technology products used by superstars in the music, television and film industries.

Their daughter, Zoe, is now 20 and attends Mount Holyoke College where she studies history and the classics.

Today, Christopher Payne-Taylor posts videos on YouTube and gets real satisfaction when his old songs get a good response from audiences. The couple performs original songs only.

“Karen coaches me, making sure I sing and don’t scream,” he said. “She brings a sweetness to our music.”

But, perhaps the most treasured compliment regarding the couple’s music comes from Zoe.

“She put one of our songs on her iPod,” Christopher said proudly with a big smile. “Now, that’s cool.”