Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I'm no green girl, but...

Since I've started singing with the band, I have been listening to more classic rock music and looking at lyrics, so I can make suggestions for our playlist.

I'm no green girl, but zoinks, have I actually been listening to that music? Some of the songs are quite sexual in nature, and I've had to stop mid-karaoke so my kids (and I) don't have to listen to them. An example: Rolling Stones' Satisfaction.

My husband said, "Does that surprise you?"

Thankfully, before I signed up to be the singer for this band, I told the guys upfront that I would not sing anything overtly sexual/crude/pro-alcohol-or-drugs in nature so I didn't have to cover my kids' ears.

*overtly* Even the subtle ones are disturbing.

I wonder if songs from the man's point of view have this issue more than ones from the woman's point of view. Before you put a hex on me, understand that I am not making a generalization on how men are, just seems that some of the rock songs I've come across are from the male point of view and some lyrics can be really frat-party material.

I 'll have to check out some from both camps and compare.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

First Official Practice

I had my first practice as an official member of our band in the middle of the day today. How weird was that, not running to Wal-Mart to shop or run an errand for my family, but rather to go to someone's basement for a couple of hours to sing with a band.

The easy thing about being a vocalist is I don't have any extra instruments to carry. But the other guys, they haul all this stuff. I especially feel sorry for D, because he has such a huge drum set. Not that he's miserable.

This is the set-up: There's a microphone in the middle for me. R stands to my right, B behind him, R to my left and D behind him. They have a nice-sounding system. I'm so used to my karaoke microphone that makes my voice sound tinny, theirs makes my voice sound rich. Today I "ate" the mike and that gave me more volume.

They recorded our songs today and gave me a CD from our last jam session. (Wow, did I just write 'jam session'?) I think the song that came off the best was Sunshine of Your Love. These guys can really play, and it's fun to pick them out in the recordings.

Today, I discovered that I prefer the Bob Dylan folk-version of House of the Rising Sun. The band practiced a couple of my favorites, Lean on Me and I love Rock and Roll and I really appreciated that even though the songs are not their usual fare, the band made a special effort to learn them.

Halfway through, I just had to turn around to and tell them how much fun I was having.

They have songs they want to play that I don't think will be a good fit for my voice, and sadly, I don't know if we'll get to any Sheryl Crow soon, but I understand. Like R said, he leans toward more of the rock standards. I agree; I think the more consistent we are on our song picks, the better it would be for the audience's experience. It would not do to have Cream one moment and Debbie Gibson the next. Unless we amp up the Gibson song, throw in a couple of growly "Owws" and add drums or something.

Growling is not for the timid. I have some work to do in this area. Joan Jett is a hard act to follow. I did the bongos for Horse with no Name and by next time I will have learned the keyboard part for Lean on Me. If I don't take away anything else from this, I would be stretching myself musically.

R commented that when he set up the time he didn't even think to check if I could do it during the day. They could because they have the day off. So I explained to a quiet room that I am a stay at home mom with school-age children which I defended by saying I was also a freelance writer, so my time was flexible...and I felt foolish because in essence I am a housewife with a lot of free time to take up hobbies like being the lead singer of a rock band and writing.

Phooey. I'm going to focus on the joy and not overanalyze this amazing experience.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Jimi Who?

I grew up on Henry Mancini, Carpenters, and Burt Bacharach. In high school, I watched a lot of MTV so I could carry on an intelligent discussion with my friends at school the next day. In college, I indulged in Latin music and classical music depending on my date for the weekend.

My senior year, my boyfriend-now-husband introduced me to classic rock from the 60's and 70's. He took me fishing and played Doobie Brothers on their boat. We spent a lot of time listening to his long-playing records while he cooked Hamburger Helper for me in his apartment. Because I always associated his music with good food and company, the music began to grow on me.

But he didn't get to Jimi Hendrix. I have a play list of standards that my band, who had a male lead singer previously, would like me to learn and it includes a couple of his songs.

Three words: Are they serious?

L said, "Sometimes, it's neat to hear a female cover male rock songs."

I watched Jimi on You Tube and felt my heart sinking to my toes. I couldn't possibly cover that, could I? Of course, I didn't think I'd ever be posting about my adventures as the lead singer for a band.

Friday, March 13, 2009

My Rock Band Audition

Last night, I went and sang with a local rock band that was looking for a lead singer. And they said they found one.



It’s not like they have aspiring lead-singers banging on their door. And they don’t even get paid for their gigs. Yet. But they have been playing together for three years, having discovered this mutual interest at work. And I might not be a connoisseur of rock music but they can play mean guitar and drums.

There are four men on the band, the lead guitarist, rhythm guitarist, bass guitarist, and drummer. They hold day jobs and look like your average suburban neighbor. They play mostly hard rock from the 60s and 70s. Our playlist last night included:

House of the rising sun – Bob Dylan
Sunshine of your love – Cream
Horse with no name – America
Knockin on heaven’s door – Bob Dylan
Stand by me – Ben King
What I like about you – The Romantics
I can’t tell you why – Eagles

Singing with a real band was a rush. Having a live guitarist play heart-pounding opening riffs of rock songs and me “owning” the songs… there’s nothing like it.

This is crazy. I’m already juggling so many balls. This will require some sacrifice on my family’s part. And, if I am not careful, this can derail my fiction-writing and personal life.

But part of me knows this is an opportunity that may never come again. If I were to do it, I would only do it under my own terms, with a scaled-back gig line-up. And if the band thinks they’ll need more from me, then I will walk away from this. Because some things are just more important.

I told the band I would have to think about it and talk to my husband about it. My husband says ultimately, it is my decision. He’s not crazy about the idea, but I know when push comes to shove, he will come through with his support. He always has. Even if he has to fake it for a while.

I never thought I’d be facing this decision this late in my life (I am 37). Who would have guessed?

Friday, March 6, 2009

How It All Began

I went to the local music store to buy some sheet music for my daughter. On the way in, a flyer on the bulletin board caught my eye. It said:

Wanted: lead singer for a rock band. Man or woman okay, basement band, 40+ year old members, we don't drink or do drugs.

Now I am not under the delusion that I am American Idol material. No one has ever come up to me and encouraged me to go on to Nashville or Hollywood or Broadway. But I do sing in public and I am not above hamming it up to entertain an audience. (And no, Lance, I'm afraid you'll just have to imagine the hippo song as I burned all evidence LOL.)

I passed the flyer. Once. Twice. And then I thought, what the heck, and punched the numbers into my phone. To my relief I got a machine and left a message.

Later in the evening, I got a call during my daughter's basketball game from a guy who said I had left a message about the rock band? I about dropped the phone and sneaked out to the hallway; I couldn't have anybody overhear this conversation!

This guy "Tom" explained that they meet once a week, sometimes they have gigs, they once did the county fair.He wanted to know what kind of songs I like to sing. I told him three I could think of, even singing part of one. I waited for him to say, Hallelujah, you are the lead singer we have been looking for. He didn't, but he nicely said, "Well, why don't you try it out? See if you like it?" He asked me to email him some songs that I like to sing and maybe they could learn it.

I asked what gender the rest of the band are, and he said they are all men. As I digested this in silence, he assured me, "But we aren't weirdos." Great! What a relief to know.

So I told him I'll email him some songs and go from there. I giggled all the way back to my daughter's basketball game wondering what my husband would think of it.

I have a sweet wonderful husband. He didn't say, "No, you shouldn't even try out." In fact he said, sure I could go try it for one night. Find out what this would entail. And then we'll talk. He is concerned about the time involved and cutting into family time. And he is concerned about the fact that it would mean me hanging out with a bunch of men once a week.

I told him I shared his concerns. I don't know why I'm even considering this when there are so many things on my plate right now. As for the "men" thing, I told him I suppose it'd be like if he decided to scrapbook with women once a week. Well, maybe not. But it's a real issue, I know.

He also said, "What if they reject you? You take rejection hard..." Well, I told him, I've done things before and risked rejection. I might be sad at first, humiliated potentially, but I might just laugh about it afterwards. And it'll make for good essay fodder.

I just want to say, never mind because I may not be able to commit to it past that one night. But I think I just might do it. Why not? What have I got to lose other than a bruised ego? To be a rock star for a night. That would be so sweet.