Greenbrae couple in their 80s serenade Marin assisted living residents

  • Independent Journal of Sherry LaVars/Marin

    Retired Greenbrae couple Doug and Beth Slye perform at Marin assisted living facilities.

  • Greenbrae couple Doug and Beth Slye perform at AlmaVia in...

    Independent Journal of Sherry LaVars/Marin

    Greenbrae couple Doug and Beth Slye perform at AlmaVia in San Rafael on July 15.

  • "I think a real good camaraderie develops when you...

    Independent Journal of Sherry LaVars/Marin

    “I think a really good camaraderie develops when you sing together. You connect on another level,” says Doug Slye.

  • "We are the same age as the people who...

    Independent Journal of Sherry LaVars/Marin

    “We’re the same age as the people we sing with,” says Doug Slye.

It’s far from quiet at Doug and Beth Slye in Greenbrae. When they are not listening to music or singing, they practice the nostalgic duets that they perform in Marin assisted living facilities. Donning everything from cowboy hats to berets to scarves, the 57-year-old couple have fun while singing tunes residents usually know, from “Hey, Good Lookin'” to “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” to “When I’m 94”. », their playful version of « When I’m Sixty-Four » by the Beatles.

While the retired duo started performing at Marin’s assisted living facilities a few years ago, they’re happy to be back there after a pandemic hiatus.

Q How did you get into music?

Beth: As a junior in high school, I joined the glee club and found myself in two main roles. I loved singing, but it only added to my love of singing to be with an amazing director.

Doug: I started in high school in Evanston, Illinois. We had a glee club at the all-boys school and we won championships in Chicago. It was my first exposure to singing and music, and I loved it.

Q After raising two kids and retiring, how did you get back into it?

Beth: Around 2015, I joined Wings of Song, a women’s choir, for a while and enjoyed it for several years. I had the chance to join Mayflower Chorus. It was just wonderful and ended up in a band called Fourth Street Beat which has about 12 singers. We, along with a few other breakout groups, do our own special song(s) in the Mayflower shows. Very entertaining, very rewarding. We also sing in assisted living facilities and every year we also sang at Christmas in the lobby of the Fairmont hotel.

Doug: I was with the Marin Men’s Chorus for a while, and had the chance to do a few little solos with them. I had the bug of singing solos in China. We were on a Yangtze River tour with other tour operators and each was supposed to put someone on to sing karaoke to represent their tour operator. I was chosen for our touring agency and when it came to going on stage, there was no one but me. I got up in front of about 200 people and sang and loved it. It was really fun, and it was instrumental.

Q How did the group start?

Doug: Beth and I played in assisted living facilities with the choirs we were in. There was a couple of musicians, Steve and Eydie, who were very popular for many years and I started to grab some of their songs and I said to Beth, ‘I think we could do that’, and we did it. I was really encouraged by the fact that a lot of people don’t make this type of music like that.

Q Having that enrichment seems even more important now in the time of COVID.

Beth: We really realized it with the reaction of people. We all want it, something that is upbeat, fun, interesting, and shared with others. It opens them up, sometimes they are calm or shy, but once we’ve sung, several of them come to chat with us.

Doug: We are the same age as the people we sing to. They tell us their stories. Some people were singers. At AlmaVia in San Rafael, a woman came to see me. She was 88 years old and had sung in different halls, including one in France. Really cute and very rewarding stuff. One time we sang “Slow Boat to China”, the comic version of Bette Midler and Barry Manilow, and this guy is clapping and shouting and he says, “That was our song in high school.”

Beth: Memory is always an issue when you get older, and so that’s part of why we choose things we think they’ll know and are committed to.

Q Where else do you like to sing?

Doug: We go to Belrose sometimes – they have open mics on Thursday nights – and test songs for them. And Marin Joe’s has a piano bar and sometimes we meet friends and sing there. We are always looking for opportunities

Q What do you like about singing together?

Beth: It’s funny. Doing the harmony, sharing the music with those who are in the room with us, that’s fine.

Doug: I think a real good camaraderie develops when you sing together. You connect on another level.

Richard F. Gandhi