Local band: 'Dr. Palmer and His Darlings'

STAR // Florencia Hasson

Students Nate Dittle, Emily Hernandez and Taylor Cuffie unite their musical talents in their band, “Dr. Palmer and His Darlings.”


From the renown halls of Sonoma State University’s Green Music Center rose a band of students, composed of a drummer, a pianist and a vocalist; all inspired by one professor and his leather pants. The trio of jazz studies majors goes by “Dr. Palmer and His Darlings,” titled after one of the bands many creative inspirations, Dr. John Palmer.

Palmer is an Sonoma State University professor who teaches an array of core music classes, ranging from music history to ear training.

“He’s a funny musicologist who sometimes wears leather pants when the urge strikes him,” said Nate Dittle, the band’s pianist.

When coming up with their name, Emily Hernandez, the singer and songwriter of the band explained, “we were just shooting s*** and were like ‘why don’t we name our band after JP [John Palmer]?’ and he was one of our favorite teachers in the music department, so we did it,” she said. “I texted him over the summer to make sure it was okay and he said he would be honored.”

Dr. Palmer’s three darlings; Taylor Cuffie, the band’s drummer, Hernandez and Dittle; have created what they call a “swing-pop” genre of music, greatly influenced by jazz, blues and pop. Although they have been friends since the beginning of their college careers, they only recently decided that uniting together as a band could bring them more exciting opportunities and prospects.

“I would like to see an album recorded and performed, and more gigging and all that fun stuff,” said Cuffie. “Once we get the bare bones done we can mess with it and go out and have fun with it.”

“I hope and see this is as a project that will last for a while,” said Cuffie.
The three of them contribute to writing songs for the group and has so far composed a total of nine songs together, a start for their hopes of releasing an album.

When asked about the challenges they’ve faced, Dittle explained that “the hardest thing for me is being satisfied with something I write. A song in its nature is never a finite creation, at least not to me, it’s a constant evolving phenomena.”

“And we don’t play the same way over and over again, we change it up,” said Hernandez.
“We’re an improvisational kind of band,” Dittle said.

Dittle and Hernandez agreed, “When you create something you’re never really satisfied anyways,” they said, completing eachother’s sentences.

“When you write a song it’s pretty much like putting a part of you into it. And most people don’t look at themselves and say ‘I’m the best person ever,’ and love everything about themselves. Usually there’s some things they don’t like,” Dittle said of songwriting.

This holds true to many artists, who use their medium to express flaws they find in themselves, in others or in the world they live in.

Hernandez, a senior with a triple major in jazz studies, early childhood studies and liberal arts, has been greatly influenced by Lianna la Havas and Esperanza Spaulding.

The band performed at The Redwood Cafe last Thursday night.

“There’s an Amy Winehouse sort of feel to her and the music,” said Sonoma State student Amelia Arifin.

The band’s first real show together will be a show with a repertoire at the Big Easy in Petaluma on Dec. 11. They can be spotted doing open mics at Lobos every other Wednesday, or at some open mics put on by The Redwood Cafe on Thursday nights.