Thursday, August 27, 2009

What A Woman Wants

I really really want a new guitar.

For my birthday, I got a John Denver guitar songbook. D told me that a former singer of theirs liked this kind of music and was declined from the band. Which is too bad. I really like singing some songs, especially "Leaving on a Jet Plane". But if we did start singing folk songs like this, it'll kind of dilute the rock band image.

I'm getting better at playing chords, and my fingertips are starting to have calluses, but sometimes, my guitar veers from ukelele sound to country twang.

Not good.

A friend's guitar teacher is selling hers for $1k to $2k. A Taylor. If I save up for it, I can probably pay it off in 100 months.


I told my kids I could sell our "real" piano (we have a digital, too) but that was voted down.

I was really only kidding.

But I still want a new guitar.

Friday, August 7, 2009

My New Candy

After our first performance, I sense that our band is more committed to me as the singer. It was, in essence, a test. And I think - I hope! - that I passed.

Practice last night was not the usual. Well, for one thing, I shared a song with the band that I wrote, called Wishing on a Star.

I am getting the shakes just thinking about it.

It was the most terrifying - and wonderful - experience I have ever had, musically.

After the band warmed up with Big Me, L picked my song to practice next. (That is what we do, we go around and take turns picking a song to practice.) No more hiding my light under a bushel! So I took out my acoustic guitar and strummed the first chord.

I could practically hear them all wince, the chord did not sound like an "E". I felt so mortified (My guitar was a cheap purchase I made early on for guitar lessons, when I was pregnant with my boy, so that is what, oh 11 years ago?).

L tuned my guitar, but it still had "issues". So I asked if I could borrow L's red electric guitar. The worried expression on his face was funny. He handed it to me with the charge to take care of his "baby".

I've always thought an electric guitar is smaller and easier to cradle -and it is - but I didn't expect it to be so heavy! I sat down on a stool, crossed my legs and tried to not drop the thing.

I strummed the first chords - okay, much better! - and the band came alive around me. D got a good beat going, the "samba" beat I envisioned, the others followed along well. It was hard to sing and play the guitar (half-falling off my lap) at the same time, but somehow I managed.

After the first run through, I sat there waiting for the verdict. I told them I welcomed any suggestions. As an artist - music or words - I am open to feedback and would have taken any bad news like a big girl, but honestly my ego was fragile at this point. R said my song was "pretty" and he liked it. And the others didn't seem to think - at least judging from their expressions - it was too sappy for the band. So I was grateful for them treating me with kindness.

I handed back L's guitar, and they played while I sang two versions in different keys. The lower one sounds more R&B, but the higher one is easier for me to sing and to make pretty. I will listen to both versions on our recording and decide which one is better.

Wishing on a Star is definitely a sappy love song, but infused with my band's soft rock tempo, I thought it sounded upbeat.

R said it is better than my first one. He was referring to my earlier tongue-in-cheek attempt at composing a band song which was inspired by Dr. Seuss' Fox in Socks.

Writing the lyrics to Wishing on a Star was cathartic. Coming up with a melody was a marvel. Figuring out chords was fun.

But hearing it all come together - like a real song - in a band session. Wow! It is just simply amazing.

I am just blessed, so blessed to have this creative opportunity with a really good group of musicians with good hearts.

I have found my new candy.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

My Rock Star Debut

You can read the recap of my August first rock-star debut here.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Recovering Before My Debut

Was so tired last night from going to the county fair (and getting sick from riding a turbo propeller like ride - I am good to go on fast rides for another fifteen years; back to the carousels for me!) I fell asleep promptly. Woke up in middle of the night and then I tossed and turned.


Tonight, at 7, is my first ever rock band concert performance.

Here's my glamorous to-do list for getting ready for my debut as a singer for a rock band:

1. Change light bulbs at the venue with drummer. Check!

2. Clean off picnic tables for tonight.

Yesterday, I went down to the park with D and my kids and we unscrewed the bases of light bulbs some marauding vandals shot out with air soft guns from weeks ago. My park contacts had said they will change them, but as of yesterday hadn't, so I thought I would just do it as a favor, in exchange for the free use of the park.

This morning I will go down and hose off the tables. You know that saying, leave it as you found it? Well, I hope we will be leaving the park in better shape.

My mind is full of rock band thoughts, so bear with me.

At the county fair last night, I watched other bands perform and I made the following observations:

1. A classic rock band had hoola hoops and air guitars to involve the crowd. Brilliant.

2. But their lead singer - who looked like Bruce Willis - was dressed like he just tumbled out of bed, like a Hanes shirt and rumpled shorts. I still don't know what I'm wearing tonight, but I know it won't be slapdash. At least not on purpose.

3. Bribery works. They put out a call for air guitarists. They dangled two tickets to a baseball game to the first adult to come up, so I got up and did it. It was so fun! And I wasn't nervous at all. I mean, it was peanuts compared to having to really sing the darn thing (Go Johnny Go). And the singer really did look like Bruce Willis up close.

4. I am glad my band doesn't look like a biker gang (the blues band that followed). I would have a hard time justifying this to my mother-in-law.

In a quiet corner of the fair, a woman and her acoustic guitarist-husband played songs that I love love love. Norah Jones, Jewel, Tracy Chapman, Maroon 5. Later I introduced myself and we got talking. She told me she was in a 7-piece cover band other times, but decided to do this duo act to indulge her craving to sing "sappy chick songs". I told her I could totally relate and why.

I appreciate my band for "indulging" the bluesy ballads that I enjoy, but the songs kind of dilute our hard rock image, ya know? But give me an acoustic guitar and folk songs and I feel like I am carving time out of limestone cliffs. Timeless peace.

I requested "Ain't No Sunshine" and they winged it from the recesses of their long-ago archives, and the result was so Amazing! Everything about it - the guitar solo, her voice. Man.

The singer was not only beautiful and talented, but kind. When my sweet patient family came around at 10 pm to see if I was done indulging my live music fetish, she said, after a song, "You have a cute mom. Is it fun to have a rocker mom?" My kids looked at me in surprise - she knows? - and nodded sheepishly. Then she said we have a beautiful family.

Which I have. My kids are precious. And my husband, to support me in my rock band aspirations...he is the best.

Lastly, the other night I was on top of the world because I composed the lyrics and melody AND figured out guitar chords for a ballad called "Wishing On A Star". The best thing about it was, I performed it for my family and my older daughter said she likes it, which is such a compliment. I like writing stories and songs that my daughter enjoys. I feel like I have passed a litmus test when I do.

I wanted to share this song with my rock band at last week's practice, but between having to focus on the task at hand (last practice before tonight's performance) and not feeling like the song is really rock band material, I just held this song close to my chest. Someday, I would love to perform it in public, with me on acoustic guitar.