“The energy and charge of the music cast its spell on every one of us in the audience...”

“You gave the performance of a lifetime...”

“The Deadly Nightshade sidles into the song -- sly, back-alley, side-street truckin’ music with the hint of burlesque gum-popping, hip-swaying strut and flounce... ”

The Deadly Nightshade Band

- one of the nation’s first all-female bands

 

band

The Deadly Nightshade is a New England-based rock and country female band consisting of lead guitar/fiddle player Helen Hooke, rhythm guitarist Anne Bowen, and bass player Pamela Robin Brandt. As one of the first feminist rock bands in the United States, our musical repertoire encompasses rock, soul, kick-ass country/bluegrass, and whatever else makes us and our audiences feel good.

Three Gals With Guts (and Guitars)

Helen Hooke


Since The Deadly Nightshade, Helen's musical projects have hit many ends of the spectrum, however her main passion has been performing and recording her original songs. Helen has released four albums of original music on her own Montana Blake label. (Helen's music is available at www.cdbaby.com).

She has also performed her songs live at numerous venues (including the 150th anniversary of the first Women's Rights Convention, in Seneca Falls) with her band Helen Hooke and Red Boots.

Not that Helen doesn't still have fun playing covers, albeit with an unusual spin. Proving beyond doubt that women could pull off a Barry White growl, Helen put together two retro all-female dance/disco bands, The Femmes and, currently, The HoneySpots.

As a freelance fiddler, Helen has recorded and/or toured with the Okra All-Stars, James Mastro's Strange Cave, Gretchen Langheld's ensemble House Afire, and Blondie (1999's comeback album No Exit). A Cashbox critic commented, "I didn't know you could get a Hendrix solo out of a violin. For the record, the way violinist Helen Hooke does it, you can."

With her Deadlies bandmate Pam, Helen continued to do work for "Sesame Street", co-writing almost a dozen songs including one recorded by Big Bird, "Wheels On My Feet". The song is featured on the recently released Sony DVD of all-time bird classics, "Big Bird Sings".

Since the early 1980s Helen has lived in Manhattan, where she works a day job as a financial wizard between music gigs. Additionally, in Long Island — home to one of the world's most festive women's communities — she has a solar-roofed house she largely built herself that, as well as being ecologically sound, has hosted numerous band reunion mini-festivals. (Photo credit above to David Plakke.)

Anne Bowen


After six years on the road with The Deadly Nightshade, Anne resolved to bag professional music and get a life.

After settling in New York City, she went to work for the Women's Action Alliance, and became a pioneer "lesbian baby boomer”—raising a daughter in an innovative five-parent alternative family arrangement that was analyzed in an early 1990s Ms. Magazine feature article.

During the 1980s, Anne moved to Tucson with her family, where she initially co-owned and operated the California-cool light bites restaurant Bowen & Bailey. Later she was “a lunch lady"—running the cafeteria at a local middle school.

Anne also served as studio producer of several recordings done by Pam's band Lowlife. The cuts were later released on lead singer Michael Callen's albums "Purple Heart" and "Legacy." 

Over the years, Anne has occasionally taken time off from being a grown-up to get together for a play date with her former music cohorts. She dug out the guitar, washboard, and Mr. Big dancing doll for Deadly Nightshade reunion gigs at the National Women's Music Festival and New England Women's Music Festival, which would not have been possible had her resolve not weakened. Somehow the band managed to coerce her to do it again in 2009, 2010, and 2013.

As a San Francisco music critic once noted, "They all sing and harmonize well, but I am drawn to Bowen's voice. When she sings 'Something Blue' her voice hits a spot in my ear that usually gets left out."



Pamela Robin Brandt


Her early musical career in highly-arranged bands, like The Deadly Nightshade, that she helped create, convinced Pam that learning to fake it would be fun. She spent the next dozen years freelancing on the New York City country music circuit, playing two to five nights a week with "different strange bands" — some, such as King Vito and the Bronx Cowboys, very strange.

She, along with AIDS activist, soprano, and fellow song writer Michael Callen, formed the mixed lesbian and gay original rock band Lowlife. In their four years together, the five-piece "politically correct rock and roll sleaze" band played CBGB, the Pyramid, the Saint, Limelight, Studio 54. and most of New York's other best known 1980s clubs.

Village Voice critic Robert Christgau praised one of Brandt's original songs as "a particularly direct and poignant AIDS-inspired anthem", and another sillier number as "charmingly early '60s enough to explain the group's peculiar though very positive 'girl group' rap." The New York Native cited her "driving can't-stop-the-beat bass."

After moving to Miami, Pam joined the female hard rock band Cactus Rose.

In her day job as a journalist, she was primarily a food critic, and co-wrote two books: "Are You Two...Together" (a book of lesbian/gay-oriented travel essays for Random House), and for Simon & Schuster, "The Girls Next Door: Into the Heart of Lesbian America"—which features a chapter on the Michigan Women's Music Festival. 

On Sunday August 2, Pamela died suddenly and unexpectedly of a massive heart attack in her home in Miami. It is incomprehensible that we will never have the chance to make music with her again.