Portsmouth High School garage band from the 1980s reunites — with a twist

·4 min read

TIVERTON — Under the colorful stage lights at the Longplex Family & Sports Center bar area, the music group Moment’s Notice doesn’t look like a typical garage band.

While the two guitarists, the bassist and the drummer have known each other for decades, lead singer has only known them for a few years. That's college sophomore Olivia Brennan.

“It’s like I’m in a band with a bunch of uncles,” Brennan said before a recent gig. “They all look out for me. I know I can count on them.”

Nathan Lawson, Olivia Brenner, Frank Spicola and Paul Alves perform at Longplex Family & Sports Center in Tiverton on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021. Other band members include B.J. Silva, Ben Lawson and Jay Borden.
Nathan Lawson, Olivia Brenner, Frank Spicola and Paul Alves perform at Longplex Family & Sports Center in Tiverton on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021. Other band members include B.J. Silva, Ben Lawson and Jay Borden.

This iteration of Moment’s Notice formed recently, but its original incarnation was born out of Portsmouth High School in the 1980s. As hobbyist musicians, then-high schoolers B.J. Silvia, Peter Spicola, Nathan Lawson and Jay Borden learned a few songs to perform at the school's talent show before deciding to add to their repertoire as they were offered more gigs.

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“To be honest with you, I never thought it was going to turn into this,” Silvia said. “I never thought we were going to be playing out … I’m getting up there in age, so I might as well do it now while I can.”

The band dissolved as its members graduated and moved on with their lives and careers, but the concept stayed in their collective memory. When the COVID pandemic came around, the band’s original songwriter, Spicola, and his older brother Frank decided to reform a band to have some kind of social outlet while everything was shut down.

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“I wanted to jam,” Spicola said. “It started in my father’s basement. We were having fun, then all of a sudden we were playing originals and being more serious about it.”

Lead singer Olivia Brennan belts some notes with Moment's Notice at Longplex Family & Sports Center in Tiverton on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021.
Lead singer Olivia Brennan belts some notes with Moment's Notice at Longplex Family & Sports Center in Tiverton on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021.

The members banded together under their original name for sentimental reasons and began practicing together again. It wasn't until the band heard news their mutual friend, Michael Brennan, was in need of heart surgery they would adopt their latest member into the group.

The crew planned a fundraiser for Brennan’s heart transplant and asked his daughter to sing a few songs with them as she studies operatic vocal performance at Rhode Island College. After a few practice sessions with Olivia on the microphone, they decided to include her as a permanent member of the band.

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“I’m just very grateful they let me be a part of it,” Brennan said.

While the fundraiser never happened, Michael Brennan’s surgery went well and he is currently in recovery. Olivia Brennan said singing with the band has helped her bond more with her music-loving father.

“I would tape every recording and come home and he would listen to them with me,” Brennan said. “He loves it, and he comes to every single show.”

Moment's Notice originally formed when its members were students at Portsmouth High School in the 1980s.
Moment's Notice originally formed when its members were students at Portsmouth High School in the 1980s.

Brennan is also not the only college-age member of the band, either. Lawson’s son, Ben Lawson, occasionally plays the keyboard for the group when he’s back home on break from studying art at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.

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Having been a piano player since he was 6 years old, Ben Lawson said it feels good to still indulge in music as a hobby.

“It took me a while,” Lawson said. “I hated playing in front of people. I hated playing with people, so it took me until a few years ago before I started playing with them, but I love it. I’m glad I did.”

Nathan Lawson describes the band’s set list as a mix of classic rock and hits from the 1980s and 90s, but the group also includes a wide range of genres as each member adds songs for the group to play. The band also has a few original songs they perform written by Spicola. The band has gotten more gigs over time, and the elder Lawson said they don’t intend to stop any time soon.

“We love to just play out at places like this,” he said. “Local places, local bars are fun to play. It’s fun to get in front of people and make people happy ... We hopefully want to become a regular fixture around here, which we probably would’ve liked to have done from the start, but everybody does their own thing eventually.

"You sort of grow up and then once you grow up and get a job you can go back to acting like an adolescent because you can afford it.”

Follow Moment's Notice on Facebook at facebook.com/Moments-Notice-105958188438368.

This article originally appeared on Newport Daily News: Portsmouth RI garage band Moment's Notice reunites with young singer

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