Meet the Rockin’ Sleepy Hollow Moms from Mom Band
Some moms just want to rock. Take it from Sleepy Hollow-based moms: Sarah Bills (vocals); Alison Hillhouse (guitar); Alexandra Christina (bass); Nisha Raghavan (drums, back-up vocals); and Anne Wilson (keyboard, back-up vocals) who make up Mom Band. Performing around Westchester since they formed as a group in May of 2022, Mom Band covers a collection of beloved songs from the decades from artists such as Alanis Morissette, Miley Cyrus, and Amy Winehouse who say they’re “just a bunch of suburban moms living the dream.”
Since the band formed, the members developed a deep bond that fused and friendship where they spend rehearsals practicing and sharing what is happening in their personal lives (more below). This has been an incredible gift to each member who only five blocks from each other!
Read on to learn more about them and where you can check them out in Westchester.
Westchester Family: How did the idea for Mom Band come out and how did you meet?
Mom Band: Alison always wanted to start a band, since learning to play guitar as a teenager. Instead of doing it earlier in life, when she had nothing to do in her spare time except drink, sleep, and go to brunch, she decided to do it in her 40s, amidst the insanity of raising three young boys, working, and suburban life logistics. Shortly after moving to Sleepy Hollow, she started trying to drum up interest in a “Mom Band” with moms in the neighborhood. However, it wasn’t until lead singer Sarah Bills moved in a few doors down that the dream took flight.
When Alison discovered Sarah could sing, like amazingly well, she floated the idea of Mom Band to her. One February night, the two huddled around the fireplace and tried out a few acoustic Alanis Morissette songs together and were like “We can do this! We sound kind of good.”
Alison continued her recruitment, and discovered her friend Anne was a classically trained pianist. Anne jumped right in, and the three started practicing together. One day, Alexandra and Nisha came to hear them play in Alison’s garage, and decided they wanted to learn bass and drums and join the band! Alexandra bought a bass, and Nisha started jamming on her son’s drum set. A few weeks later, they got together to try it all out together in Nisha’s basement, and it was magic!
We also all live in the same neighborhood. Some of us were friends, some of us just met, but we clicked as a group right away. It’s amazing to be able to walk a few blocks to rehearse in Nisha’s basement each week.
Westchester Family: Was everyone playing instruments before and/or involved with music? Or did anyone learn when you formed.
Mom Band: Nisha had NEVER played an instrument, but keyboardist Anne just “sensed” that Nisha had great rhythm and persuaded her to give it a shot. (Anne’s intuition was spot on, obviously.) Nisha now takes lessons from the amazing drummer Gary Schwartz at Mike Risko Music School in Ossining. Alexandra had played violin growing up, and these skills helped her transition into an awesome bass player. So, both Nisha and Alexandra have been playing drums and bass for just about a year!
Anne was a classically trained pianist, and has seamlessly transitioned into rock and pop. Sarah studied music in college and sang in a semi-professional acapella group in New York City. But never in an instrumental band! Alison had been playing guitar since college, when she used to sit around and strum the Indigo Girls The group has taken band class with Mike Risko, who has helped them learn the process of putting a song together as a band.
Westchester Family: Where can we see you play in Westchester?
Mom Band: You can follow @themomband on Instagram for gig info. We are playing the Rivertowns for Reproductive Rights Dance for Choice 2023 on September 21st and at TaSH (Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow Farmers Market) on November 18th – with more gigs to come!
Westchester Family: What are some of your favorite song to play:
Alison: “Ironic,” by Alanis Morissette, because it was our first song together, and in some ways feels like our voice (though we are broadening quite a bit to other eras and genres). Plus it is kind of easy so I can just look at the band, and the crowd, and enjoy the moment.
Nisha: Probably “Our Lips Are Sealed” by The GoGo’s… one of the best all-female bands ever! It’s a song from one of the first records that I ever bought, and the idea that I can actually play a song to which I used to sing along as a kid still blows my mind.
Sarah: I love “Torn.” I used to sing it in my collegiate acapella group, so I have nostalgia for it from different moments in my life. I love how it sits in my range and how the crowd loves to sing along with me!
Anne: It’s hard to choose. Probably “Total Eclipse of the Heart” because I had to work really hard to get the piano part right. My kids would listen to me practice it over and over again, so they got to see firsthand how it takes hard work and practice to accomplish your goals.
Alexandra: I love to play “Criminal” by Fiona Apple because of the funky bassline, and “Levitating” by Dua Lipa. I love the challenge of this harder bassline and am determined to learn how to pop and slap for this song.
Westchester Family:What advice would you give if someone wanted to start a band or another creative project?
Mom Band: Find a way to keep creating throughout your life and to connect with friends in the process. For parents, your life isn’t just about your kids. You’re important, too. Try to do something for yourself.
Westchester Family: How do you connect with each other before you play?
Mom Band: The experience of making music with a group of kind, thoughtful, talented (and fun!) women is such an incredible gift in life. We are all so thankful for this experience and for each other. What’s crazy is we all live within five blocks of each other in Sleepy Hollow!
As mentioned, Nisha had never, ever played an instrument! Her late father had been in a Bollywood band; before he recently passed away, Nisha notes that he was “tickled by the idea of me being in a band.” She noted, “This band, and these friendships, have been among the best surprises of my life.”
Anne added, “The best part of the band, is the band itself. Somehow, a group of kind, talented, amazing women found each other. We have each others’ backs, and we support one another. We cheer each other on, congratulate each other when we succeed, and help each other out during challenges.”
We love coming together on Wednesday nights to play together and do something for ourselves! As moms, we are so wrapped up in pursuing the passions and dreams of our collective 12 kids ages 2-14, and we feel it is so important to keep ourselves in mind too. We also feel really proud when we hear our kids say their mom is in a band!
With all the energy we put into our families and careers, it is meaningful to play music just for us. What’s exciting is seeing our progress – even when returning to simpler songs we learned a year ago, we are finding new ways to approach these as our skills improve. It is so exciting to perform and feel the energy of the audience as well as the energy and connection between all of us.
We also take time before and after practice to talk about what’s going on in our lives – whether that’s feeling overwhelmed with work or parenting challenges. We’ve dealt with some heavier things too, like loss and Anne’s battle with cancer.
Anne noted, “For me personally, the band came at an interesting time in my life. Shortly before the band formed, my husband died unexpectedly, leaving me a widow and the only parent of an eight-year-old girl and a five-year-old boy. Then, shortly after the band formed, I was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer. I’ve been undergoing active cancer treatment for a year and counting, and the band has been with me every step of the way, putting together a hospital bag for me to bring to my chemo treatments, bringing over meals after my surgery, visiting me in the hospital when radiation landed me there with pneumonia, even telling me that I don’t look terrible bald.”
Westchester Family: How are you getting the word out about Mom Band?
Mom Band: We sharing gig info with friends in our neighborhood, at our schools, and at our kids’ soccer teams. We love having friends and their kids at our shows, and it’s been exciting to have people we don’t know come to hear us. It’s just fun to just bring people together to socialize and sing-along (and please, sing-along!)
Westchester Family: What do you each like to do in Westchester when you’re not rocking out?
Alison: Every time I walk on the Hudson RiverWalk [from Sleepy Hollow to Tarrytown] I just can’t believe I am lucky enough to live in this gorgeous place. However, my kids would say Monster Mini Golf is the highlight of Westchester.
Anne: I absolutely love living in Westchester. The riverfront, historical sights, and restaurants. Plus, I love all of the easy access to both hiking trails and New York City. We have the best of all worlds!
Sarah: Westchester is the best! I commute to the city for work, so nothing beats coming off the Hudson Line after a long day in the office and into our beautiful community. I love walking with my family in Rockefeller Preserve, eating out at some of my favorite restaurants like Goosefeather, and spooky season in Sleepy Hollow when the town really goes all out!
Nisha: I concur with all of the above – we are lucky to live in such a beautiful county, right next to the Hudson and so close to the best city in the world. Sleepy Hollow in particular is a diverse place, both ethnically and economically, full of hardworking people who care about their community, so we are vibrant and culturally rich. And no one does Halloween like we do!
Alexandra: I love seeing the seasons change with the gorgeous view of the river backdrop and our storybook town of Sleepy Hollow/Tarrytown, and often pinch myself and feel like I’ve discovered the world’s best secret of where to live.
I love the diversity and my family was drawn to this part of Westchester due to not wanting to lose that when moving out of the city, and loved they have a dual language program. It’s incredible to both be close to NYC but also have a small-town feel of running into friends all over town. And yes, the month of October is unique in Sleepy Hollow and brings out such camaraderie, creativity, and connection from our community that is felt year-round.
For gigs and more information, click here.