Duffy’s Ripplers Rock Roundup

Casey Miller, News Editor

Just 7 years ago, Tom Duffy started one of the most “fun, exciting and simulating” journeys in his life by learning how to play the guitar. Soon after, he gathered a few friends and created a band. The English teacher is now a local rockstar, covering classic and new rock songs at live gigs, in front of an audience of bar-goers and music-lovers alike.

Duffy’s band, The Ripplers, will be playing at the Roundup Saloon in Lafayette on March 13. However, current students will not be able to attend due to the bar’s age requirement.

To prepare for a gig, Duffy said, “I try to sneak in an hour or two or three [of practice] per day. I practice with the band once a week.”

“We play all rock and roll covers, from the Beatles and the Stones to Green Day, Cage the Elephant, and even more current stuff like that. Our whole deal is we want to gather our friends and have a good time and play some music,” Duffy said.

Along with being the lead vocalist and band leader, Duffy plays rhythm guitar and slide guitar.  Duffy added, “I’ve just started playing music seven years ago, but now I play in this band and we’ve done thirty gigs live. It’s really fun.”

The Ripplers’ first gig was at a backyard party in 2010, but their audience has increased as the band has two more appearances at the Roundup lined up in the next six months. “This will be our fifth show at the Roundup, and we are booked for another show in May and another one in August,” Duffy said.

The band’s versatility allows them to play anywhere from quiet parties to loud bars. According to Duffy, The Ripplers will be playing at a wedding in April.

Teacher Carol Brownlee has also seen Duffy perform with his band. “They are incredible. It’s always a fun time, with lots of dancing and singing,” she said. “I knew Tom before he knew how to play guitar, so it’s impressive to see him playing with a band, at an institution like the Round Up.”

Duffy’s advice to his students is simple: “Follow your bliss. Do what makes you happy. If you love it, pursue it, and good things will happen.”

Like Duffy, Learning Skills teacher Michelle Alessandria is involved in a music group, called Mantra. Like Duffy, Alessandria is the lead vocalist. However, she does not play an instrument.

Six years ago, Alessandria sang the Ave Maria at her grandfather’s funeral. As a result, her brother asked her to play at his upcoming fiftieth birthday party. “If you can sing the Ave Maria like that, I want you to sing some rock songs at my birthday,” Alessandria remembered her brother saying.

Alessandria started her career singing Pat Benetar’s, “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” and “I Love Rock and Roll” at the party. After the party, her cousin mentioned friends who were looking for a lead singer.

Alessandria said, “[I told them] I just sing at church. I can’t sing in a rock band. But I tried out with them and they said ‘We’d love to have you,’ so I’ve been singing with them for 4 years now.”

According to Alessandria, they play about 5 times a year, and practice every 2 weeks.

“The members of the band are really fun, and we’re like a little family. We just enjoy playing music,” Alessandria added.

Alessandria’s daughter, Stanley 8th grader Amanda, said, “I have the coolest mom ever! I get to hear her when she sings at her gigs, at church, and when she sings the national anthem! My mom has a real talent.”