Clockwise from Upper Left:  Katie Senn, Marcy Rosenbaum, Nicole Upchurch, Sarah Driscoll, and Katie Roche

Clockwise from Upper Left: Katie Senn, Marcy Rosenbaum, Nicole Upchurch, Sarah Driscoll, and Katie Roche


2016 Marks the 10th anniversary of Awful Purdies, an eclectic quintet of female multi-instrumentalists who take turns stepping up as songwriter and lead singer. The ensemble "purdifies" each song they meet, filling in sweet harmonies as they let the song lead the way. While one song might require channeling the Andrews Sisters or Gillian Welch, another song might reach out to a rock-a-billy or Motown sensibility. With "The Katies" (Katie Senn on cello and Katie Roche on accordion) laying down each song's base, their songs sound full and orchestrated, while Nicole Upchurch's banjo, Marcy Rosenbaum's mandolin and Sarah Driscoll's guitar skillfully root Awful Purdies in the modern folk genre. Ten great years, three albums, numerous compilations, a major grant from the Iowa Arts Council, and many film and television placements later Awful Purdies hope to continue to share the music they make together for a lifetime. 

Photo by  Sandra Dyas

Photo by Sandra Dyas

Katie Roche

Plays: Accordion, xylophone, penny whistle, recorder, wash board

Hometown: Asbury, Iowa (a.k.a. Dubuque, IA), lived in Brooklyn, NY for a spell, now lives in Iowa City, IA

Other projects:  Katie is also the vocalist for a 1920s jazz group called the Dandelion Stompers. Playing in bands for over half her life, she's jumped around genres from singing with the boundary shifting Greenpot Bluepot to The Dioramas, her long standing NYC project. Other projects have included: Katie Roche and the Gentlemen of Leisure, Broke Out Steppers, Thee Almighty Handclaps! and the someday to debut solo project, Sister Wife. She can be seen regularly at Clinton Street Social Club in Iowa City playing with Dandelion Stompers.

About this here Purdy: works as the Development Director of The Englert Theatre, is married to the greatest guy this north of Texas, has two adorable children nick-named Beppe and Roux and is an original member of Awful Purdies (since 2006 y'all!). Katie is a skilled grant writer, recently (2014) winning a grant for Awful Purdies from the Iowa Arts Council via The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts, which supported the creation of a new project and album called All Recipes Are Home.



Nicole Upchurch

Plays: Banjo, guitar

Hometown: Rexburg, Idaho

Also lived in: Bozeman, MT and Tiffin, IA

Other projects: The Feralings and Small Town Siblings

About this here Purdy: Nicole teaches preschool and early elementary Spanish and ukulele at Prairie Green School. She and her husband, Benj, have three children of their own.


Katie Senn

Plays: Cello, Violin & String Bass

Hometown: Eden Prairie, MN

Also lived in: Shaker Heights, OH, Woolwich, NJ, Florence, Italy & London, England

About this here Purdy: Katie began loving and playing the cello at age 6 and after college, Katie directed high school and middle school orchestra for 10 years in Cedar Rapids, IA. Currently she oversees the orchestral division for the West Music Company. This here cellist has been gigging and recording on all sorts of projects over the past 13 years with amazing artist from around the country. She lives in North Liberty, IA with her husband Bob and children, Jackson and Ashleigh.


Sarah Driscoll

Plays: guitar (kind of)

Hometown: from Ladora, IA, now lives in Cedar Rapids, IA

Other projects: Diplomats of Solid Sound, The Derelicts

About this here Purdy: owns her own yoga studio, Breathing Room Yoga, and enjoys gardening, cooking & creating :) Listen to Sarah's first solo album here.


Marcy Rosenbaum

Plays: Mandolin, Guitar, Bass

Hometown: Iowa City, IA

Also lived in: California, Indiana, Kentucky, Oklahoma, England

Other Projects: Half Fast

About this here Purdy: Marcy has played music since she was 8 and considers it as necessary as food and air in keeping her healthy and happy. She teaches at the University of Iowa. She lives with her husband (her best friend) who is a consistent and gracious host for Purdies’ practice. She likes to talk about squirrels and add unnecessary letters to words.

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