A Sun Prairie band that began at church and “grew up” at Buck & Honey’s will celebrate its 10th anniversary later this year.
Nine Thirty Standard — whose members include the husband and wife team of Amy and Jim Anderson, Jerry Fitzpatrick and drummer Chris Black – began almost 10 years ago when Mike Peters advertised.
“He kept putting an ad in the paper or in craigslist about wanting to form a semi acoustic band,” Fitzpatrick recalled.
“I don’t know exactly what happened,” Jim Anderson said during a recent interview involving the Andersons and Fitzpatrick.
“I remember he had to like certain artists like James Taylor and maybe not, but, and then I think you got a hold of him. You answered him. And I don’t know if you’ve ever, did you ever meet with them before me?” Fitzpatrick asked.
“No. I think we just had conversations, but uh, because we’d been interested in starting something. Oh wait, we all, the three of us met at church. We were on the worship team at Living Water. That’s how we met. So we were doing that for a long time, few years,” Jim Anderson replied.
“My story is that we were on the worship team and we enjoyed playing together so much, we thought we should start a band,” Amy Anderson said with a laugh.
“We thought that [Jerry and I],” Jim Anderson said.
“That’s my story. I don’t know what his story is,” Amy added.
“I remember it as you calling me,” Fitzpatrick said, “because you said you had this drummer and you’re going to meet.”
“Yeah. And we wanted to know if you were interested because you were a decent guitar player,” Jim Anderson said.
“Then I joined and the rest is history except for Mike Peters,” Fitzpatrick recalled.
Peters was also responsible in part for giving the band its name.
“Well we started practicing on Monday nights,” Fitzpatrick said, “and the only time he could practice was 9:30 on Monday night. So, we did that for a while.”
“Until like after midnight,” Jim Anderson said. “We were younger then.”
“We were MUCH younger then,” Amy Anderson added with a laugh.
“So that’s kind of how we got the band name because when we had our first gig we thought — and he got us our first gig, it was a Christmas gig at his company party,” Fitzpatrick said, referring to Peters. “And I just said I have all my songs in the computer under 9:30 because we met at 9:30 so, and you guys came up with ‘Standard’ and that’s it. And [Peters] was with us for about a year. We didn’t play a lot of gigs, probably played four or five gigs with him.”
Although the band has since played around the Madison area, Nine Thirty Standard really got its start at Buck & Honey’s in Sun Prairie (the band has also played at the restaurant’s new location in Monona).
“We came in [to Buck & Honey’s] for lunch one day. I mean [Buck & Honey’s] was really brand new and we thought [about asking to perform]. And Tom [Anderson, current owner] sat down with us for some reason. Was it because we asked him to? Might’ve been, but we had an idea for him. We thought that we should play here and that we would play for [laughing] for our dinners or something,” Amy Anderson said.
So, the band members, who are no relation to Tom Anderson, set up an audition of sorts.
“Well the first time we said we would play a short set for just dinner,” Jim Anderson said.
“Yeah. And to see if he liked us or not. And that’s been how many years? 10 years or so?” Amy asked.
When Peters left the group, Jim’s son, Brad, joined as a drummer and stayed with the band until April, when Black joined as a drummer and vocalist. Black spent 12 years playing with two notable punk rock bands, Dollyrots and BANG sugar BANG, touring all over North America and the UK, until he came back to the Midwest.
The band has performed at private parties, community festivals including AlbertFest and StrawberryFest this year, and at other venues including Pooley’s in Madison, Daly’s in Sun Prairie, and Me & Julio’s in Fitchburg. But the band has also been other places in Wisconsin, thanks to someone they admit candidly they have never met.
“We were at Pooley’s and there was a class reunion for East High School and an agent was there,” Jim Anderson recalled. “We’ve never met him, but he solicited us. He’s out of Neenah and he books stuff around the middle of the state. So, Door County and the Fox Valley area, Fremont. He’s got us several gigs up in that area — the Northstar Casino, Stone Harbor in Sturgeon Bay, Bridge Barn, Fremont played there a couple times.”
Another regular stop is Potosi Brewery, and that also happened because of Buck & Honey’s.
“One of the servers who had been here [at Buck & Honey’s] for a while — her family moved to Potosi and she got connected with the brewery,” Jim Anderson said. “I think she got a serving job out at the brewery there and I think then we just got in touch by email with them and kind of her recommendation got us in there. So we’ve played there for what, four years or so?”
Fitzpatrick agreed. “It’s always outside. Always in the summer,” he added. “They have a really great brewery and a really neat beer garden.”
But the band owes a lot of its notoriety to Buck & Honey’s, the Liberty Square restaurant in Sun Prairie where the band performed inside and outside almost twice a month for the first few years of the band’s existence.
“So yeah, we kind of grew up with Buck & Honey’s. You know, our song list has changed so much because we play at Buck & Honey’s,” Fitzpatrick said. “I mean, you kind of always visualize what song would go over there, what you know, and then you start playing different places and you think, ‘oh, we need more rock, or we need something beefier.’ So then we learned those songs, then we go back to Buck & Honey’s. So that’s how we kind of got this whole variety. Plus, we all like different styles of music. Everything overlaps. So, Amy has brought songs that I said I would never play that song, ever. And here I am playing them.”
“I enjoy every minute of that,” Amy replied with a smile. “Can Jerry play those songs? He said he would never . . . they’re so cliché.”
“I hate these songs. And then I started playing them and I thought, ‘oh, there’s some nice guitar licks.’ It’s kind of fun,” Fitzpatrick replied. “I wouldn’t, I won’t admit that I like it, but you never know what song you think is going to be good. And then some of them go over really big, some of them we like and then one song we’ll go over and be good one night and then the next, well, it’s a different crowd — I guess they weren’t into that song, you know. And then you just never know. You just kind of always are bouncing off songs.”
Fitzpatrick credits Jim Anderson for the band’s exposure.
“If it wasn’t for Jim, we’d be not playing anywhere, probably, or played in my living room,” Fitzpatrick said.
How does the band describe the set list of music it plays?
“One of the words has been eclectic,” Amy said. “And I don’t know if that was Jim being silly, but because we do so many different kinds of things, I don’t know if there’s a word.”
Jim offered a different description offered by the owner of The Poorhouse in Stoughton.
“She hired us for New Year’s Eve. And she asked, well, how do you describe it? I said, well, here’s the songs that we play,” Jim Anderson said. “Well, she had actually heard us and so she came up with, ‘blues to country standards to rock — the music from your life.’ We actually play songs from the past 10 decades. So, you could say they were all big hits. So, it’d be like the hits of the past 10 decades.”
The band’s set list varies from the Glenn Miller Orchestra’s “At Last” to the Fleetwood Mac song “Landslide” to “Little White Church” and even Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.”
“Most of our songs people recognize, you know, there’s a few obscure ones here and there,” Fitzpatrick added, “but most of them, that’s probably our biggest compliment. They like our song list.”
The band, which recently released a CD and is working on a new effort, also isn’t shy about explaining why they perform. Well maybe not Fitzpatrick.
“That’s a good question,” Fitzpatrick replied. “We never asked ourselves that.”
“Of course, we all have regular jobs, but I think we all just love music and it’s what we enjoy. I think we enjoy working together and we enjoy being able to bless or touch or move people, you know, with that — it’s a gift, right? It’s kind of something special,” Amy Anderson said.
“Yeah. And there’s something, to me, it’s something about playing with other musicians,” Jim Anderson said. “I’ve never been a really good [solo musician]. I mean I took guitar lessons and all that, but I got involved with a renaissance wind group for quite a few years and played recorder. And we played, we played some gigs and things. And to me it was just amazing to like, I could pull, I could practice my part and you know, sounded interesting maybe, but, but you get people together, everybody playing together and working as a group and that like just, it’s an amazing experience. So that’s kind of the same thing.”
“Why do I do it? Fame and all the money probably, you know,” Fitzpatrick said, laughing. “I just like to play. I mean, I just love playing out and it’s just part of me that I will always be doing until I can’t do it anymore. I’m always excited to go to every gig. Sometimes I think, you know, by the end of the night, we have good gigs and bad gigs, some gigs, uh, I’m ready to go. But I’m always ready to go the next gig. I’m always excited to go to the next gig.”
“What makes a big difference to me and Jerry in particular is how engaged people are,” Amy Anderson said. “If they’re enjoying it and they’re paying attention, they’re happy about it. Then it just eggs us on.”
“And I think we play — you [Amy] and I think, and probably you too, but I think you’re more knowledgeable of the music where we kind of are more emotional,” Fitzpatrick said. “Where if the song is kicking in or something, we can somehow get a different boost or, you know what I mean? And I never really know what I’m going to play. Usually it just kind of comes out and sometimes just, ‘hey, that was good.’ Or ‘that wasn’t bad’ or ‘that was not as good’. But it’s a very emotional thing for me.”
The band recently lost its biggest fan – Amy’s mom, Maureen Moriarity, who also wrote about being a “band mom” in a column for the Sun Prairie Star. Moriarity died on Oct. 10, 2018.
“I am admittedly their biggest fan, in my mind, anyway. The real reason I like attending is because I love the band, and listening to Amy sing is always a highpoint for this mom,” Moriarity wrote in her May 30, 2017 column.
It was not unusual for Amy’s mom, known to the band and even Buck & Honey’s staff as Mo, to stake out a table in the front row – sometimes with family members and friends – and even request changes to the band’s set list because she was not going to be able to stay for the second set and wanted to hear her favorite songs before she left.
“I’ve not done at least one song in particular because that was always Mom’s favorite,” Amy Anderson recalled. “And I didn’t know if I could make it through. But when we were at Potosi last time, one of our friends was there and she didn’t know [it was Mom’s favorite]. She requested that song and then someone else heard her and they didn’t know and they said, oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah [do ‘Landslide’]. So now we have three people saying, yeah, do ‘Landslide.’ And we did and I didn’t cry — I got through it.”
“That was the first time in eight months,” Jim Anderson said.
“But it’s tough because I don’t have anyone else that’s that,” Amy added, “my biggest fan.”
Some of Mo’s biggest fans recently attended a band performance.
“Mom graduated with a whole bunch of people and they’ve had some reunions, you know, even at Buck & Honey’s. So a few of them came to Pooley’s on Friday, even though she wouldn’t be there – from Florida, Chicago, I don’t remember where the other ones were from, but everywhere,” Amy said. “That was pretty cool.”
For more information about Nine Thirty Standard, check out the band website at www.ninethirtystandard.com.