Family bands aren’t a new concept. The Osmonds, the Bee Gees, even the current indie darlings of Haim—these groups and many others have formed from sibling bonds and a shared love of music. In the Pioneer Valley, one group that has followed suit is Show of Cards.
Featuring a current lineup of Karen Cardozo (songwriter, vocals, acoustic guitar), Mike Cardozo (producer/arranger, electric and acoustic guitars), Garrett Sawyer (bass, engineer, producer) and Sturgis Cunningham (drums, percussion), the band also originally included Joe Cardozo (bass) and Makaya McCraven (drums).
“As siblings of different generations, we were rarely in the same place at the same time,” says Karen Cardozo of the band’s formation. “So it was an unusual convergence when we all found ourselves in Amherst in the late 2000s. At that time Joe was most active on the music scene with a strong Cold Duck Complex following and a number of side projects, [including] Bellhammer, with Alex Chakour.”
Having previously played around Western Mass herself in the ’90s as part of the female duo Chattering Magpies, Cardozo notes she was surprised when her brother Joe offered to produce an album of new songs she’d written.
“Playing together as Show of Cards became an outgrowth of that recording project, rather than the other way around,” she says.
Representing both a play on the family’s surname and the point in a poker game when players reach “the moment of truth where you lay it on the line and all is revealed,” the name Show of Cards also refers to the Cardozos’ open attitudes and willingness to reflect on emotional and spiritual experiences.
“We are always grateful to have the opportunity to perform and honor our audience by working hard to create a real journey with arc and flow,” says Mike Cardozo. “We really take you to a lot of places both musically and emotionally. Over the course of the night we hope to share feelings of hope, despair, joy, and everything in between, and we somehow manage to have fun through it all.”
Speaking of fun, the appearance of local artists like Jeff D’Antona (piano, keyboards), Zoe Darrow (fiddle, background vocals), Eric Remschneider (cellos) and Tim Eriksen (background vocals) on the Cardozo’s new album, Something Better, has resulted in the creation of an engaging new sound for Show of Cards, and has also laid the groundwork for potential future collaborations.
“I have always had a great ear and strong love for harmonies, so I can see wanting to work more closely with other singers in the future, both as part of Show of Cards and in outside collaborations,” says Karen.•