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Washingtonian Parents By Day, Rock 'n' Rollers By Night

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A group of DCPS parents formed a band called Princess. They dress in costumes and perform a variety of female pop songs.
Kavitha Cardoza
A group of DCPS parents formed a band called Princess. They dress in costumes and perform a variety of female pop songs.

Pete Willsey is going through his closet. There are 20 costumes in here. The druid costume won't do, the evil dictator costume isn't quite right, neither is the evil Wiggles costume. Willsey finally finds what he's looking for.

"This is one of my favorites, it's a jumpsuit we had custom-made with the city flag, with the words 'Property of Chevy Chase DC Correctional Facility.''"

Three years ago Willsey formed the band Princess, named after his daughters' obsession with all things girly. Princess is a band of mostly fathers, all lawyers, whose children go to Lafayette Elementary School in northwest D.C. They do punk rock covers of pop songs. Willsey and his bandmates do perform in public. Princess has done 35 gigs, including at local bars, block parties and school fundraisers at Lafayette. And bassist Hunter Bennett says they're open to more! "If any school asked us we would do it for free, we would even pay them to do it!"

In Willsey's garage with makeshift sound proofing, band members start tuning. This is where they practice their teenybopper hits... Miley Cyrus's See You Again, Taylor Swift's You Belong To Me, and Beyonce's If I Were A Boy. "If you drink, now's a good time to have a beer before we start," he says.

In Princess's hands, the ballad starts out tender and quickly becomes a sweating, screaming version of the original. And that, says drummer Vinny Badolato, is exactly what Princess is all about. "Speed and volume make up for a lot of mistakes! And outfits! We are masters of diversion. That's what Princess really is!"

A few miles away, another parent-band Cheaper Than Therapy, is starting practice. Members' children go to Janney Elementary, Deal Middle and Wilson High Schools.

"We're Cheaper Than Therapy," says Karen Harris, the lead singer. "We are cheaper than therapy."

Harris and drummer Pippa Trench met running Janney's Parent Teacher Association.

"It's DCPS so there's always a financial crisis of some sort," she says.

That means lots of meetings to organize fundraising events. But bassist Doug Harris says that's just the PTA.

"We also have soccer and baseball coaches, theatre, music baseball, swimming and then homework as well," says Harris.

And so this band was formed purely for as a stress-reducer for its members Trench, Harris and guitarist David Boris. "It gives you a real relief, it's such a busy, busy life going on, and everyone is wrapped up on what they're doing. We want to sing songs that are not about education because that's our life. So what's cool about the band is it's not about school, it's not to play kiddie songs, it's totally our thing."

Being part of a band also gives these parents some street cred with their children says Boris, Harris and backup vocalist Elaine Eagle.

"My son thinks it's the greatest thing," she says.

Photos: Princess

Photos: Cheaper Than Therapy

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