Tim Foley is best known in San Diego as a multi-instrumentalist performer with the Celtic-folk group Skelpin and for his solo work, but for his appearance in the upcoming season eight of Bravo television’s reality show Real Housewives of Orange County, he has gone outside his comfort zone, forming a salsa group, Toca Toca, especially for the shoot.
“The name of my solo band is the Tim Foley Band, which includes Todd Davidson (Price of Dope, Square Circle) and Steve Haney (Greyboy Allstars, Jungle Fever), but when I was called to do the show, they wanted a salsa group for the episode,” Foley said. “I knew I would have no cred if this salsa band had an Irish name like ‘Foley,’ so we quickly came up with ‘Toca Toca,’ which is Spanish for ‘Play Play.’”
Taped in mid November, the group will be featured in a party scene. “We got together the day before and wrote five salsa tunes in a couple of hours and we made it work really well.”
Foley won the part after a longtime friend, Lydia Sterling McLaughlin, was cast as one of the housewives for season eight. “I’ve known her since junior high, and we worked together on air at a TV station in Canada in college [NTV],” Foley said. “In this episode of RHOC, she is supposed to throw a party for the other housewives, and they needed a band. When they asked what band would play, she didn’t hesitate in recommending me. She has come to see Skelpin and the Tim Foley Band many times.”
He notes that, as most suspect, reality shows are not what they seem. “It’s funny that it’s called ‘reality TV.’ There is little that is real about it. The dialogue is not scripted, but the situations are sort of created and manipulated. So, there’s a sense of it being staged,” he said. “Frankly, how real can you be when you are hooked up to a mic and you have a camera in your face? You always feel like you’re ‘on.’ The cameras don’t run the whole time. But the main characters are mic-ed and always being recorded, even if they aren’t on camera. So, they really have to watch what they say.”
He describes filming the scene as surreal. “They are supposed to be at this happening party with this live band playing. But we weren’t allowed to play when the dialogue was going on for audio and continuity purposes. So, they would have us play a little here and there and then we’d stop.... They will go back and dub in our music so it will seem like we were playing the whole time.”
Though Foley hopes for some positive feedback from his appearance on the show, he confirms Skelpin, which won the 2010 San Diego Music Award for “Best World Music Album” and a songwriting prize in that year’s John Lennon Songwriting Contest, will continue.
In the meantime, the episode of Real Housewives, featuring the one-off appearance of Toca Toca, is set to air in March. “At one point I was pulled off to join in a dancing round where we started with one partner and switched,” Foley laughed. “My friends were happy to know that I danced with each housewife. I think Gretchen and Tamara had the best moves. But, of course, my friend Lydia was the sweetest. Funny, I didn’t know any of these people’s names before this shoot.... I never watch the show or shows like it.”