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Michelle West brings her Gibson Les Paul into the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce on days when she has practice that evening. The chamber's vice president of communication says the guitar is a conversation piece around the office.
Michelle West brings her Gibson Les Paul into the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce on days when she has practice that evening. The chamber's vice president of communication says the guitar is a conversation piece around the office.

After 5: So, you want to start a band?

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An electric guitar may not be on the list of approved items to bring into the office, but for Michelle West, lugging her Gibson Les Paul into the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce is becoming a routine activity.

“It’s always a conversation piece when I bring my guitar in from the car in the morning,” says West, vice president of communications for the chamber. “Some people will walk by my office and see my guitar in there and (they’ll say) ‘Hey, what’s going on?’”

West, who plays rhythm guitar in the five-member all-female band According to Nadia, says music was part of her life early on, but it’s only recently developed into something more.

“I clunked around on the guitar for several years. I could entertain inebriated people around a campfire,” West says. “I only had a few three-chord songs in my repertoire. It was just something I did for fun that I picked up.”

Since joining the band last year, she’s started taking regular guitar lessons has been rehearsing six hours a week with the band and has written her first song, “Drunken Dialin’.”

West joined the group at the request of lead singer Terry Cone, a probation parole officer who formed According to Nadia after playing a 2009 reunion show with her late-1970s female punk band The Debs.

Cone says she’s welcomed the opportunity to front a band again.

“For so many years, I’ve defined myself by what I do, by my job,” Cone says. “I love my work, but it’s nice to have something else that brings creativity and enjoyment of life.”
Members of According to Nadia are among several area businesspeople rushing to rehearsal after a day at the office.

Dr. Howard Follis, a urologist at Ferrell-Duncan Clinic, plays the upright bass in Lonesome Hollow, a bluegrass band formed by fellow doctor Rodney Quinn. Follis says playing in the band has helped him relate to his patients.

“Many of them – especially in this area – have attended bluegrass festivals,” says Follis, who started playing music at the age of 8 at the suggestion of his schoolteacher mother.
“Once a patient knows that I play bluegrass, they mention it every time they come in the office.”

Michael Gandy, a marketing officer for Arvest Bank who spent eight years touring with the now-defunct band Far From Yesterday, says music wasn’t always a side project; it was the main gig.

“I had my dreams and intents set on being a rock star,” says Gandy, who’s currently working to form a new band and get back on the performance circuit. “There’s always that dream in the back of my head.”

Gandy says he recognizes the impact his time spent as a rock band front man has on his bank marketing gig.

“It teaches you how to speak to people,” he says. “People gravitate to music. When people go out to enjoy themselves, a lot of times they’re going to go see a band. You have to be approachable, if you’re that person on that stage.”

Melinda Mullins, a paralegal at the Law Offices of Rick E. Temple, performs solo at festivals and local organizations to uphold the legacy of her father, Grammy-nominated country songwriter, Johnny Mullins, who died in 2009.

“I don’t get to express very much of my personality in my job,” says Mullins, who strums to her dad’s songs on the old Gibson he gave her. “Having the music outside of that is a good balance.”

West says According to Nadia plans to expand its set list and eventually open for other bands before headlining its own shows. But no matter where the group ends up, its members will keep performing.

“If we never do anything else except play in my living room or play over in our little rehearsal area, we’re having a good time,” West says. “It’s a nice escape.”[[In-content Ad]]

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