Nanette Arndts was not the best student at Northeast High School, but she was eager to transfer to a new school that opened back in February 1978.
That school was the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts. Arndts enrolled as a sophomore.
“The Bulletin wrote an article that we were a waste of taxpayer dollars,” she recalled.
“We outlived them. Touché.”
Arndts, who earlier attended Louis Farrell Elementary School and Woodrow Wilson Junior High, went on to become a member of CAPA’s first graduating class in 1980.
“I was a dance major, but I always loved music,” she said. “I didn’t pick up a guitar until I was seventeen, then I got hooked. Learning on the job is the best way.”
Arndts, now 49 and living in Rhawnhurst, hasn’t put down that guitar in more than 30 years. She formed a band in 1981, and it continues to play to this day.
“Somebody called me Sister Blue. It stuck,” she said.
On Saturday night, Sister Blue will celebrate a compact disc release with a party at Red Hot & Blue Memphis Pit Bar-B-Que, a restaurant on Route 70 East in Cherry Hill, N.J., across from Garden State Park Shopping Center and adjacent to Holiday Inn.
The party runs from 8 p.m. to midnight. There is no cover charge, and children are welcome.
The 14-song CD is titled I Should’ve Said No. The WXPN (88.5 FM) blues show has played three songs: What’s It To Ya, You Lie and the title track.
“So far, it’s gotten very positive feedback,” Arndts said.
Sister Blue is hoping for a lot more positive feedback on Saturday night. The CD will be for sale at Red Hot & Blue, a showcase for blues music.
Afterward, it can be purchased on the online distributor cdbaby.com and at the band’s gigs.
The band’s personnel has changed over the years. Today, it consists of Arndts, Mark Furman on guitar, Tom Donovan on bass and Bob Holden on drums. Arndts and Furman are both lefties.
It’s not all glamorous. Band members have to book shows, drive to the venue, carry the equipment and deal with industry politics.
Still, they’re hooked. Thirty-one years is a long time for a band to last, with Arndts the mainstay.
“I’ve been doing this for a while,” she said.
Sister Blue plays in Philadelphia, the suburbs, Central Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, New York, Maryland and Washington, D.C. The band, which has opened at the Keswick Theatre in Glenside, also does private affairs, including a June 24 performance at the Franklin Institute.
The band has played consistently, even after Arndts had two children and raised them as a single mother. Both are adults now.
“I’d book the gig, hire the musicians, then book the babysitter,” she said.
In addition to performances with Sister Blue, Arndts plays the drums, sings and plays guitar as a backup for other acts.
“I’ve even played bass on a couple of gigs,” she said.
The forthcoming CD will be Sister Blue’s third. The others came out in 2002 and 2005.
Arndts wrote all of the songs in 2010 and 2011. The CD was recorded in late 2011 and early 2012. Listeners will hear a bunch of different instruments.
“They’re all original songs, and they sound amazing,” she said. “There’s a diversity of blues. It’s a very broad genre, and the CD runs the gamut of blues. When you play blues, the music is really important.”
At the CD release party, some former Sister Blue members will sit in with the current band. The band will remain on stage during most of the four-hour party.
“There’s a very tight blues community. A lot of these guys, I’ve been playing with for over twenty years,” she said. “We like to stay up there once we get warmed up.”
Arndts, who works out at a gym and attends yoga classes at Lackman Playground in Bustleton in her spare time, expects a party atmosphere on Saturday.
“I hope everybody shows up and has a good time,” she said. ••
Party Saturday …
Sister Blue will hold a CD release party on Saturday from 8 p.m. to midnight at Red Hot & Blue restaurant, on Route 70 East in Cherry Hill. There is no cover charge.
More information on the band is available at sisterblueband.com or the Sister Blue page on Facebook.