Monday, April 27, 2009

Baring My Soul

Thursday night, I went to practice late and frazzled. Thank goodness for my husband who has been very supportive about getting me to band practice, even if it means he has to be the only parent taking our kids to 4-H horse practices while I take kids to soccer and church activities before I zip to practice.

If you are reading this, dear, thank you!!

Sang Stand By Me for the second time and shocked the band and me. I don't know if it's just that I've been singing consistently for weeks now, but my voice sounded deeper and richer. Went better than the first practice, when I was so nervous and not really cutting loose.

I cut loose so much that I did the growls for I love Rock n Roll. I also harmonized the chorus of It Makes No Difference. That was fun. I love experimenting. I also feel more confident about my singing and trying new things.

I read a book recently written by the Five Browns (the five siblings who play piano together) called Life Between the Keys and loved this quote from Desirae Brown:

I know what I like in a performer. Some people in the industry call it the "x factor" or "that special something". I think it's generosity. Great performers open up to an audience and bare their soul. These special artists aren't thinking of what the audience is thinking of them. They are completely lost in the moment, in a memory, in a sound, in a feeling. Seeing such a performer is so satisfying because you walk away feeling what they were feeling.
I felt like that on Thursday. I felt like I gave my all, and resisted the urge to "hide" behind demureness. And when I was done, I felt so exhausted, so tired I felt like crawling to the car. (I didn't.) I thought I would sleep good, but I was still so keyed up I couldn't sleep even though I had an early start the next day driving at 5 a.m. to go to a writer's conference.

I hope I can give my all not just as a performer, but as a novelist as well.

Monday, April 20, 2009

One Of the Boys?

I arrived at practice Thursday to the band playing 867-5309 (Jenny). I'd heard that song on the radio the other day and I thought it was a fun song, but obviously male-specific.

Took turns picking songs to sing.They like my rendition of House of the Rising Sun. "When you put yourself into your song, when you cut loose, it's great," R said.

I love What I like about you, but was the last song of our "gig" songs picked. This time I hit all the Heys, and that helped the band stay on rhythm. Band seemed pleasantly surprised to hear me sing I wanna be sedated and What's so funny. L said I wanna be sedated sounds good with my voice. They had me sing an original composition of L's, Bad Drivers, and that was fun.

I'm feeling like "one of the boys".

As I left, they picked up again on 867-5309, and I couldn't help but wonder if they miss that all-guy jamming atmosphere. I mean they seem to be having fun, but I'm sure it's different.

New things this week:

I will be learning the harmonica (or 'harp' in rock lingo). I got one, but it's in the wrong key (C). I need one in A for What I like about you. I didn't know this about harps!

I dusted off my guitar from years ago and was excited to be able to play Michael Buble's Home and recognize the chords.

I play the piano with more confidence nowadays. For example, I am trying some Elton John songs on the piano that I hadn't even cracked open before.

My husband says I am "music-obsessed" nowadays.I think the difference is, this band validation makes me play/sing/try with more confidence.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


I was wrong.

When I started practising with the band, I told them I wouldn't like:

What's so funny
by Elvis Costello


I Wanna Be Sedated by Ramones

Now why did I do that? I googled the songs last night. Wow, I can see why R really likes them.

I will surprise them at tonight's practice and offer to sing them. With these new songs that I'd never in a million years would have listened to, let alone learn, I feel like I am visiting a different universe.

PS I also didn't know that when The Clash sings Should I Stay or Should I Go, they sing back-up in Spanish for part of it.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Karaoke Vs. Live Band

Karaoke has no politics. Karaoke doesn't involve e-mails that you bite your nails over wondering if you are crossing the line between bossy and assertive (about playlist choices). With karaoke, I can pick my songs. I can sing what I want. I don't have to worry about what four other people think.

Make that four strangers.

The weirdest thing about jumping in as lead singer for a band that has been rocking together for three years is I am the upstart and they know each other and I haven't the foggiest clue who they are.

Well, I'm getting bits and pieces here and there:

L is getting married in June. He's played guitar since 1977. R is single. B is divorced, has a son and loves to snowboard. D is a grandpa and played for a band back when.

It's like a girl trying to break into a boy's club. They have their secret language, they work together (literally), they know what makes the others tick.

Karaoke is easier. The music is constant and unchanging. No surprises.

But singing with a live, it's just amazing. This past Friday, I practiced for a couple of hours, and I could have gone on and on. The energy, the feeling of people making music together, is just fabulous. When I put myself in my song, and really internalize it, and then at the end, realizing I had been a part of creating art, wow! And I feel like I am growing in confidence with my singing voice; even at church I can hear myself sing.

It's like "You sing with a band, Jewel, you have permission to sing it out."

Sometimes, however, I am racked with self-doubt. I tried the piano piece for "Lean on Me" and I flubbed the notes. And there are moments when I think of myself as "lead singer" a voice says: Who do you think you are??


My voice is a revelation to me, does that sound full of myself? What I mean is...I am reveling in my God-given voice, the range my voice was designed for. Not reaching for soprano. But low, Joan Jett bite, with a bit of folk edge to it that I'd never been aware of before.

And after some songs, the guys say, "Great vocals," or "Good practice!"

That's how live band trumps karaoke.

Monday, April 6, 2009


Our band voted, and these are the songs we have decided on to practice the next few weeks and perform for our next gig (possibly late May):

I love rock n roll - Joan Jett
Lean on Me - Bill Withers
Ican't tell you why - Eagles
Sunshine of your love - Cream
All day and all of the night - Kinks
What I like about you - Romantics
Runaway - Del Shannon
House of the rising sun - Bob Dylan

I'm glad they put this to a vote so everyone feels involved. And relieved...all the songs I voted for are on the list.