Local Music Makers
Catz in Pajamas – Original Rock Power Trio
By Peggy Ratusz
Robin Borthwick – Drums
Ed Dodson – Lead Guitar, Lead Vocals, Songwriting
Troy McMillan - Bassist, Lead Vocals, Songwriting
Troy “Corky” McMillan reached out to me late this past winter, asking if I’d like to profile the original power rock trio he is part of called Catz in Pajamas. Always intrigued by bands that are new to me and who are working in the local music scene, I asked him to send me their promo materials and website link so that I could familiarize myself with their sound and vibe.
I was honored to receive from him, even before their official record release show, access to the full track masters of their 16- song album, “Out of the Bag.”
As it turns out, I was familiar with the drummer, Robin Borthwick. I recognized her photo and remembered a mutual friend of ours who introduced us maybe 10 years ago. Back in 2016, we actually shared the stage on a show where she was the hired drummer and I was the hired backup singer.
Fast forward another seven years and here I am today, introducing this potent threesome to all of you.
The first thing I want to know is how they concocted their band name.
Their band name came from a line in one of the songs Ed wrote for the album. When Corky heard the song, he misheard the line ‘dogs in pajamas and cats on the prowl’ as ‘cats in pajamas and dogs on the prowl….’
After the laughter died down, they decided ‘Catz in pajamas’ was obviously a compelling moniker. Ed eventually relented and changed the line of the song to match it.
Corky and Robin met in 1967 in Winston-Salem. Robin explains: ‘this guy had a great rehearsal space in the basement of his house and invited us both to come and jam.’ Corky takes over, “we played in a lot of different bands while we were all growing up. I played in a band with Ed, Ed played in another band with Robin. But this is the first time we’ve played in the same band!”
Borthwick relocated to the Carolinas in 2014 after decades touring with various groups and theater troupes. Early on, one of the bands she played in from Winston-Salem opened for Kenny Rogers and Chicago.
She toured Europe with a band called Lucille and The Red Hot Blues Mamas. Notably, she appears in a book that came out in 2010 called “Sticks & Skins: A Photography Book About the World of Drumming.”
Corky was a sought-after sessions bassist for decades and spent time making a name for himself in Atlanta and in the 1970’s he played with Grammy winning fiddler, Vassar Clements and has shared the stage with icons such as Paul Butterfield and Papa John Creech.
Dodson split their hometown too and spent time exploring and learning different guitar styles and genres while living and gigging in Atlanta and New York. This afforded him opportunities to play everything from Jazz to Funk to Bluegrass.
Some of you might recognize Ed Dodson’s name. He was the Bluegrass guitar instructor at the Swannanoa Gathering for many years.
The three of them serendipitously reunited when a highly respected and popular Winston-Salem musician and record producer, Chris Stamey, put a show together in 2018 called ‘Yesterdays Tomorrows” and hired them all to play that production.
Dodson expounds, “Chris reconstituted a number of the late 60s and early 70s bands from Winston-Salem. Corky and Robin were the rhythm section for a couple of those bands and I was enlisted to play a big role in the show as well,” He continues, “During rehearsals, I approached the two of them and pitched my idea of putting a group together. I really liked the way the 3 of us sounded.”
Though Ed resides in the Greensboro, NC area he’s nonetheless ready, willing and able to make the trek to Asheville for Catz rehearsals, shows and recordings.
“Out of the Bag” as I mentioned, is their current all-original record. Lyrical themes run a meaty gamut. There’s a crowd pleasing ‘everybody-sing-along-in-unison’ rock anthem; there’s a ‘cheatin’ song; an ‘I-caught-you-cheatin’ song; there’s a tumultuous tune about the pandemic and a foreboding and raucous ditty about a stripper, to name just a few of the stand-outs.
The project is rife with solid and punchy guitar riffs, hard drivin’ and exuberant rhythms and each track comes with its own beefy bottom end. You’ll hear a bit of rap, a splattering of effective and well-placed harmonies and competent lead vocals from the guys.
If you’re up for it, this record will take you down their ‘rockin’ road; where one turn doesn’t always lead to another and where the terrain can switch from paved to gravel in an instant.
At the end of the final track, when you’re finally home and sittin’ back in your easy chair, I wouldn’t be surprised if you hard core rock devotees aren’t ready to get up and go again.
Catz In Pajamas summer schedule:
Chimney Rock Smokehouse,
Chimney Rock, NC
St. Paul Mountain Vineyards,
Peggy Ratusz is a vocal coach,
song interpreter, and songwriter.
For vocal coaching email her at