Swirly Girls
Love Your Local Band

Love Your Local Band: Swirly Girls

Swirly Girls play Michael’s on Main on Nov. 21

Cousins Sheila Cliff and Pam Nectar always liked swirls.

It’s a cool symbol, and seemed like an obvious choice for a band name when they started playing music together four years ago in what was a very impromptu decision.

“We were dancing around, listening to music and decided it would be fun,” says Cliff.

They only lasted a very short while as a two-piece, with Nectar on guitar and Cliff on ukulele and washboard (and both on vocals). They knew that they needed a bass player. That’s when they tapped Gary “SweetPea” Cunningham to join the group—who may be swirly, but is definitely not a girl.

“They offered to change the name for me because I’m a guy, but I think I like Swirly Girls,” Cunningham says.

The trio has never settled on a genre, though everything is acoustic, with plenty of group harmony.

“It’s like Stevie Wonder to old ’20s swing music and a little Django Reinhardt. Neil Young is in there too,” Cunningham says.

Now they’re much more confident as musicians, and have developed a pretty broad range of songs in their repertoire. They also don’t feel like they need to stay true to the original rendition.

“The music that we like is really diverse. I feel like the songs that we choose, they’re not so specific to one genre. We try to mix it up and offer more than one genre, because that’s what we listen to,” Nectar says. “I think the way we make everything our own, we kind of put our own swirl on whatever we’re doing.” 

INFO: 7:30 p.m., Wednesday Nov. 21, Michael’s on Main, 2591 South Main St., Soquel. $10. 479-9777.

Contributor at Good Times |

Aaron is a hard-working freelance writer with a focus on music, art, food, culture and travel. In addition to Good Times, he's a regular contributor to Sacramento News & Review, VIA Magazine and Playboy. When he's not working, he's either backpacking, arguing about music or working on his book about ska. One thing's for sure—he knows more about ska than you.

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