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Catonsville native turned Seattle musician plays her first home concert

"This is not my kind of usual Friday night out," said former Catonsville resident Barbara Massey Goglia. "But I would go anywhere to hear her play."

Massey Goglia was among the crowd of more than 40 people at the Sidebar Tavern in Baltimore to hear Julia Massey and the Five Finger Discount play their first show in the lead singer's hometown.

The Seattle band is led by Catonsville native Julia Massey, Goglia's daughter.

"It's very exciting," Massey Goglia said. "I know she's been looking forward to playing for friends and family."

Now a Towson resident, Massey Goglia has heard her daughter play during visits to Seattle, where she now lives.

Though she said the small bar filled mostly with customers in their late 20s or early 30s was not her typical scene, she enjoyed hearing her daughter play in her home state for the first time.

"It's a big deal when she comes to town, and it's a really big deal to play in a venue at home," she said.

The bar was filled with Massey's childhood friends, family members and even her former teachers at Catonsville High.

As she took the stage wearing a glittery green tank top, brown pants and brown loafers with bright striped socks, she addressed the crowd.

"I love a great many people in this room tonight," she said after she donned the green feather mask she wears while she sings. "And I thank you guys so much for being here."

As the lights dimmed, the group's trippy, poppy indie music filled the room. Massey's ethereal voice, combined with her keyboard playing, had heads bobbing instantly throughout the crowded bar.

The group played a combination of songs from its album, "Five Letters from Far Away" and new pieces they have been working on recently.

"I'm really excited that I'm getting to share with all of my family and friends what my Seattle band has been doing all this time," Massey said before the show Friday.

"It's sort of my past culture meeting my present culture," she said. "I'm totally beside myself."

Massey's sister Catherine Bowen made the drive to Baltimore from York, Pa., to see her sister perform live for the first time.

"It's really surreal, because I watch it (Massey's performances) through the Internet and hear recordings but ... it's great to see her live knowing it's really her," Bowen said.

Bowen said Massey has always been involved in the arts and that she's proud to see her sister doing so well in her musical career.

She said almost everyone can say they know someone who plays music, but not many can say they are successfully making a career out of it.

"Knowing someone who's actually doing it well, it's special," Bowen said.

Bowen said she and her family knew Massey would do great things in the music world when her piano teacher discovered she had perfect pitch at the age of 7 during her first lesson.

"With her, she has a more structured background, which helps her do it even better and she has perfect pitch," Bowen said. "And for a musician to have perfect pitch, that's pretty special."

The group played at 9 p.m. after Massey's husband's band, the Jesus Rehab, and before local band Blind Man Leading.

A nanny by day, Massey grew up in Catonsville on Fairfield Drive. She graduated from Catonsville High School, then attended college in Boulder, Co.

She spent some time working on her music in New York City and, after talking to some friends living in Seattle, decided to pay them a visit.

"The way it happened was, I showed up in Seattle thinking I was going to be there for a month, literally with one bag and my guitar," Massey said.

"And I enjoyed my first month because of the music community there, that I wound up staying longer," she said.

"They said, 'You know, you're still making music. Why don't you move out to this notorious music city?'," Massey said.

From there, fate took control and led her to both her bandmates and her husband.

Her bassist at the time was also playing with the Jesus Rehab. He invited his bandmates to see Julia perform at her first big show in Seattle with him.

"And his bandmates actually turned out to become my husband and my brother-in-law," Massey said.

Her band consists of her, her brother-in-law, drummer Dominic Cortese, and Geoff Gibbs, who plays both bass guitar and electric upright bass.

Dominic Cortese also plays in the Jesus Rehab with his brother, Massey's husband, Jared Cortese.

"Within a year (of meeting each other) we were dating, and yeah we just got married last year," she said.

"We tour together, kind of 'Partridge Family' style," Massey said, referring to the 1970s television sitcom series.

The Baltimore show was the 10th of 14 stops on the group's "Age of Information Tour," which Massey said is its fourth large-scale tour.

In addition to Maryland, the tour brought them to Minnesota, New York and Illinois.

Massey did not linger long in Baltimore. The band left town for a May 4 show in Ohio and continues on the road to Minnesota before ending May 9 where it began, in Seattle.

Massey said she loves playing and touring with her husband.

"Music is our life," she said.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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