Daily prompt; We got the beat Have you ever played in a band? Tell us all about that experience of making music with friends. If you’ve never been in a band, imagine you’re forming a band with some good friends. What instrument do you play in the band and why? What sort of music will you play?
Like a lot of things in my life, I took it for granted. But lately I’ve been realizing not too many moms have been able to say “I’m IN the band”.
It had been something I always fantasized about doing. I was your typical sing into her hair brush kind of girl. So a few years ago (actually over 14 yrs now) when my brother asked me if I would be interested in joining his new band, I grabbed the bull by the horns (and my microphone) and was ready to run out the door.
“Not today,” he laughed. I immediately felt like a dork and pretended like I knew he didn’t mean right that minute.
“See you Tuesday, you dork.” He knew.
My love for music goes way back. It started with singing along to the Jackson 5 as a child, to Frampton comes alive as a preteen, to one of my favorite memories of being in the 5th row while Eddie Van Halen tore through his guitar at lightning speed, while wearing his shit eatin’ grin.
Prior to this invitation, the most stage experience I had was singing karaoke. In fact, I was so “green”, I brought my karaoke microphone to the first practice and thought I could plug it into the bands PA system. Turns out you can’t.
After getting over my initial embarrassment and nervousness (did I mention I have terrible stage fright?) we started on my first song. It was a little off in places that’s for sure, but as I drove home from that practice, every fiber in my being was screaming, “YES!!”
Our practice space may as well have had a revolving door as drummers, guitarists and basses whirled in and out. I quickly learned musicians can be funny creatures as well as very temperamental. Suddenly all those VH1 shows I used to love watching became my reality and I understood the” drama” of it all.
It was frustrating at times as we worked on getting a song list together for our first performance. We would have it close to perfection and the drummer would mysteriously plunge into a temper tantrum and stomp out the door. This left us looking for his replacement only to start the process of learning the songs as a group all over again.
If nothing good comes easy, we were on to something great.
Finally it came time for us to enjoy the fruits of our labor and step into the lime light; our first gig. The establishment was dank and cramped as our friends and family packed in like sardines. I was jumping out of my skin with excitement and fear, as I squeezed through the crowd like toothpaste through a tube thanking everyone for coming out. Suddenly I felt a hand on my shoulder, “it’s go time.”
As I made my way to the stage, I felt my legs weakening under me. I turned around and gasped at the sea of faces through the smoky haze. The background music stopped as the clinking of glasses seemed to amplify. The crowd stared with anticipation and suddenly the rocker in her skin tight dress and knee high boots, felt like the proverbial deer in headlights. I was jolted out of it with a nudge, “Say something.”
“Uh, thank you everyone for coming out, um and supporting us tonight,” was all I could spit out. I hadn’t put too much thought into that part of my role. They called it “fronting” the band and something you don’t have to worry about with karaoke.
I heard three clicks from the drummer followed by a burst from the rest of the band joining in. It felt surreal and I was relieved to see the cheat sheets with the words to the songs in my sight. With each passing chorus, my nerves smoothed out like an iron going across a wrinkled bed sheet. I fell into a groove with the crowd and the band. By the second set, I knew I was born to be a rock star!
The energy of the performance outweighed all the obstacles. I loved every last second of it from putting my outfit together, to the power I felt belting some of my favorite songs into the microphone, to the unity of the band. The applause whistles and compliments weren’t too shabby either. By the end of the night, I was spent. Done. But extremely satisfied.
Collapsed in a chair, my brother walked by and laid one hundred dollars on the table.
“Are you serious? We’re getting paid to do this?”
“Well if you don’t want it, you can give it to me,” he laughed. “Good job by the way.”
Our friends and family continued to support us by following the band around to all our different gigs. A mailing list was started and we were picking up fans by the dozens. After” paying dues” we snagged some outside festivals complete with lights, sound men and spacious stages.
Practices still got a little snippy at times but when we got on that stage, the magic happened. For all of us the love of music prevailed at the end of the day.
It was a thrilling, sometimes grueling, time in my life and I learned being in a band takes up a lot of time. I couldn’t ignore the pull to be home with my family. I had my time, I rocked it out and now it was time for me to hang up my microphone and leave the building.
Hey, hey, my, my. Rock n’ roll will never die and neither will my love for it. In the end, I had that experience and one day I will pull out the old photos of the “hot” rock n’ roller and tell my grandchildren about the time their grandma sang in a rock band.
And not too many grandmas can say that.
Image courtesy of duron123 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net