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New Canaan Mom Strikes Up The Band, Keeps Musical Dreams Alive

Members of the Bad Dog Buddy band founded by New Canaan mom Julie Kurtzman. From left, Susan Brill, Michelle Gottfried, Ken Kurtzman, Michelle Orr, Julie Kurtzman, Kim Markin. Missing from photo: Alan Martin and two new singers. Photo Credit: contributed
Bad Dog Buddy album cover Photo Credit: contributed
Members of the Bad Dog Buddy band Photo Credit: contributed
Julie Kurtzman, founder of the Bad Dog Buddy band Photo Credit: Ronna Kovner Photography

NEW CANAAN, Conn. -- While New Canaan mother of four Julie Kurtzman has played the piano since she was 8 years old, she never imagined that she would one day perform in a band.

But her eight-member band, called Bad Dog Buddy, has been performing since 2015 and last year produced an album.

"We do this for fun," Kurtzman said.

Bad Dog Buddy -- named after her dog, Buddy, a boxer bloodhound mix -- performs classic rock and current hits.

Songs include “Remedy” by The Black Crowes, “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder, “Blister in the Sun” by Violent Femmes and “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson.

The band has played at the Woodway Country Club in Darien, the Seaside Tavern in Stamford and the New Canaan Nature Center.

Growing up in California, Kurtzman had a piano at home and played classical and Broadway songs. Later, as an adult, she began performing at festivals and recitals.

“I wanted to be a classical pianist but was too afraid to play in front of other people," she said.

“I always felt a lot of pressure. With classical music, I felt that I was expected to play the same way as the original artists who wrote the songs, such as Beethoven."

In the mid-2000's, she was giving up on performing when she met Mike Meros, who was the keyboardist for the Beach Boys.

“His tour with the Beach Boys had come to an end and he had decided to take on some students and teach," she said.

She began taking private lessons with him. "He is the first one who showed me what music could be. It’s not just following note by note. Instead, it’s creativity, it's interpretation, it's camaraderie, it's taking a flying leap"

One day, something tragic happened.

"Mike was at my house practicing with me and he told me he had chest pains," she said,

It turned out he was having a heart attack and died a few days later -- at the age of 57.

"After his funeral, all the Beach Boys came and rented out a bar. They performed a musical jam and asked me to come up on stage.

"Feeling stage fright, I said 'no,' but I regret my decision to this day," she said.

When Kurtzman moved to New Canaan in 2011, she started taking classes at the School of Rock where she met other musicians from the area and formed Bad Dog Buddy.

The band doesn’t accept money for performing. “Once it starts becoming a money thing, we are afraid it will no longer be fun,” she said.

She said that while the members have different musical tastes and personalities, everyone eventually comes to an agreement.

“There's a lot of give and take and a lot of yelling with laughter," she said. "Middle fingers fly but it's all with love."

Kurtzman has recently been in the news for spearheading an effort to being a refugee family into New Canaan. Click here for a Daily Voice article on this.

Bad Dog Buddy will next perform March 31 at at the New Canaan Nature Center, 144 Oenoke Ridge. The time hasn’t been announced. For more information, click here .

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