They call themselves “Double Trouble,” but the only trouble people have when this musical duo plays is keeping their feet from dancing.
“People say it looks like we’re having such a good time,” said vocalist Gloria Dawn Irwin, who also plays guitar and foot bass while Marita Barnes plays drums.
Area fans may remember them as “Razz Ma Tazz” when they performed at various venues between 1998 and 2001. The duo regrouped last summer after a four-year break.
Irwin, 53, and Barnes, 66, specialize in dance music for weddings, private and community events, and clubs. They know at least 2,500 songs in a variety of genres — classic rock, pop, country, blues, classics, swing, show tunes and current hits.
Question: How long have you lived in the area?
Irwin: All my life. I graduated from Sehome (High School) in 1971 and live in Ferndale. I have two grown sons, Nathan and Joe Fuller — both my sons are musical — and four grandchildren. I’m co-owner of Duchess Hallmark in Everson and also a freelance writer. I write the “Local Treasures” column for The Echo, Everson and Nooksack news for The Foothills Gazette, and features for The Ferndale Record-Journal.
Barnes: I’ve been in the county since 1995 and live in Blaine. I moved up from Oregon where I’d lived for more than 20 years. I have two daughters, grown and married. I’m semi-retired — mostly retired. I’ve the delivered The Echo for about five years, and before that, I operated a few small businesses.
Q: Where have people heard you play over the years?
Irwin: The one that has been annual for us has been the Lynden Raspberry Festival. We’ve played at Semiahmoo, festivals and events in Blaine, Everson, Ferndale and Nooksack, and benefits for Womencare Shelter and other organizations. I’ve been playing since 1979, often as a single (performing as Gloria Dawn), but sometimes as part of a duo or trio. Although I have enjoyed playing as a single, the highlight of my musical career has been playing with Marita and my son, Joe. I have been so blessed with their talents and can’t imagine ever playing music again without one of them.
Q: How did Marita get involved?
Barnes: In 1998, Joe brought his drums to our house — Gloria and I were sharing a house in Nooksack then. He needed a place to store them. Gloria got me started playing, and I said, “Hey! Wow! This is fun! I can play drums.”
Q: Had you played other instruments before that?
Barnes: Never! Only the radio. Gloria has also started teaching me the basics of bass guitar, which I love. I come from a musical family. Mother played a banjo and sang, my two uncles played guitar and sang, and Grandmother played the piano and organ by ear. She never could read a note. She’d hear a song on the radio and sit down and play it.
Q: When did you start playing guitar, Gloria?
Irwin: I got started when the Beatles came out. I was 12 years old, and my parents bought me a guitar. I wanted to be just like the Beatles, so I bought a music book and taught myself to play guitar to all their first songs. In high school, I started forming folk groups and then started playing dance music in 1979.
Q: How do you put a program together?
Irwin: The type of music we play varies according to where we play. At a wedding where there are people of all ages, we play music for all ages.
Barnes: That could be anything from a waltz to light rock.
Irwin: We play requests if we know the song, and if they have a song that’s special to them, we’ll learn to play it.
Barnes: We did a private birthday party at the Leopold and considered that most of the folks would be seniors, so we played a lot of ’40s music, Big Band music, or whatever they requested.
Irwin: We are definitely willing to do auditions for people. We have enough music in our repertoire to tailor the music to fit a special occasion or an event with a specific theme. We could do a sock hop with all ’50s music.