Cathy DiToro has been imbedded in the DC region music scene for a long time, fronting cover bands like So Fetch — a name plucked straight from the 2000’s classic “Mean Girls,” perfect for a group that pays tribute to the likes of Avril Lavigne, Blink-182 and Outkast — and the Legwarmers, who painstakingly and in exuberant, colorful fashion resurrect the sounds and sights of the 1980s. (Party Like It’s is another band DiToro is a part of, primarily focusing on Ska.)
DiToro spoke to the News-Press and revealed further layers to her career in music — this year, one of her main objectives revolves around her original, solo work and the release of her first, full-length album — produced through Big Curve Music, a company based out of Maryland.
“This is a really exciting year for me,” said DiToro. Besides the album release, she will be “opening for Smash Mouth at the Tally Ho in Leesburg” this September, as well as putting on a performance in the Bullpen on Monday, August 8th, at Nationals Park — with Lady Gaga taking the stage afterward. “It’s a very exciting time.”
Creatively speaking, DiToro reflects that she’s been on the “verge of a lot of new music.” Part of the discovery process that has led her to creating and recording her own material has been the collaborative aspect of the medium. “A big part of who I am and what connects me to music is the collaboration.” She continues that “it’s important to stress the collaboration [in music], versus the competition.” As many in the performing arts world know, “it’s really hard to get your songs picked up or to ‘make it’…it’s a really tough thing to be a part of.”
Which is where working with others comes in. DiToro explained “when it comes to the lyrics, I pretty much do a lot of them myself,” workshopping a song on the piano or on guitar. But she always creates songs “with the thought in mind that there’ll be a full band” bringing it all to life.
The right environment extends to cover songs, too. “Sometimes I hear a song and it’s just there, it depends on the vibe.” The rapport between band members helps “tighten up” a song — as does the energy from a live audience. “The energy of a live show is kind of unpredictable,” shares DiToro with joy.
“I love to perform no matter what it’s like. If it’s like 20 people at a local bar” or something larger, like the State Theatre, where she recurrently takes the stage with the Legwarmers.
“When there’s thousands of people in the crowd giving that energy back to you, nothing compares to that. It all comes from the energy of a room.” She adds, however, that “you can get great energy from a small room” as well.
When asked if the DC region is where she mainly plays and records, DiToro explained that she travels “quite a bit” with her bands — places like “New York, down the east coast, Vegas” — but that “DC’s been my homebase pretty much since I’ve moved back from college.” She adds that DC is where “I’ve built my fanbase, for sure.”
With her years of experience writing, playing and working with other musicians, DiToro admits this kind of career is “the classic ‘don’t give up’ story.” There’s “no typical measure of success in this field,” which can make the whole thing seem daunting and impossible. But, DiToro says resolutely, “as long as you love it, you’ll keep doing it.”
In addition to her work with So Fetch, the Legwarmers and Party Like It’s, DiToro’s first solo album will drop in the fall of this year. She also does outreach work with her non profit ProjectHERA, which she founded in 2017 — an organization that strives to “provide opportunities for women of all ages to connect and support each other, as well as promote their music to the general public.”
To learn more about ProjectHERA and their annual HERA Music Fest, visit cathyditoro.wixsite.com/projecthera. DiToro can be found on Instagram @ditoromusic. The Legwarmers: DC’s Biggest 80s Retro Dance Party will be performing at the State Theatre this Saturday, August 6th, at 9:30 p.m.