Thursday, October 30, 2008

It's Okay, I'm With the Band

I always figured I'd marry a musician. Everyone has a "type". Often that "type" is based on physical attributes. Sometimes attitudes. Whatever. The heart wants what it wants. Resistance is futile.

I liked guys with musical talent. Physically there was no defining factor that turned me on. But a guy who could make music? Hell yes.

Now after a bad experience or two (what's that you say? musicians don't always make the best boyfriends? really?) I did try to resist. But, see above, resistance is futile. The heart wants what it wants.

When I met Tom, I knew he was a musician, but his "playing out" days were behind him and he just noodled around from time to time. Sometimes he'd play tapes of his glory days for me and I'd catch a little glimpse of - something - in his eye. Regret? Longing? But it would pass.

After we had the kids, he sold a lot of his instruments and equipment. We needed the space and the money and he wasn't really playing anymore, anyway. It didn't feel like regret - it felt like moving on.

A couple years ago the bug bit him again.

The girls were older and starting to become interested in playing instruments themselves. The time seemed right. He's documented this journey in blog form, so I'll stop my back story there.

Flash forward to the present.

Last night Tom played out for the first time in something like 20 years (not counting orchestra performances and jazz camp performances; orchestra because it's a full orchestra and jazz camp because it's a closed group).

He played with the band Billy Two Shoes. Again, I won't go far into the history here - that's his and theirs to tell. They define their style as "Americana" and I suppose that's as good a term as any. I've never been good at labeling genres. I will say this, though: these guys are the real deal. The songwriting is nothing short of amazing and the musicianship is excellent. And they all make it look casual, easy and fun. This, of course, makes it easy and fun to watch and listen to. And as a bonus, they're just really swell guys. Dig this: they don't keep a penny that they make for themselves. Everything they earn through gigs and CD sales goes directly to food pantries. How patently awesome is that?

Watching Tom play was almost surreal. I've gone to hear a lot of music with him over the years and a couple times I found myself looking right at him, yet having to stop myself from reaching over to tap his knee or shoulder when something really moved me. I'm used to having his knee and shoulder right next to me, not up on the stage. But up on the stage is exactly where his knees and shoulders belonged. All day I had been nervous for him - 20 years away is an awfully long time - but he looked so completely comfortable and happy. Warmed the cockles of my cold dark heart.


Matt the Bass Player said...

my, oh my...this old dog can certainly relate...and it's tom's fault that i'm back playing in a band after a 25 year break...the first show was completely nerve wracking...10 shows later, it's gotten don't know how proud i am of tom for getting back out there...and he takes it one step further by moving away from his playing comfort zone and into the realm of upright bass...also glad that you're cool with this version of mid-life crisis...believe me, it's far better than the sterotypical young cheerleader/new corvette version...

mommakin said...

Well, he did toy with the Harley thing for awhile...

No, I'm totally cool with it. Sounds (from what I read when I lurk over @ the Jav blog) like Lynn is, too. Makes it a little easier that I always liked the boys in the band...

And if it wasn't clear enough - I'm awfully proud of him, too. And of you,too,for that matter. You guys all (virtually) getting back together has been the impetus for some pretty amazing stuff.

Rob the drummer said...

Nice review of the whole thing and an excellent read, written at 4:00 am no less.

From my perspective, given that my drumming days are so far away, it would take a tremendous effort to get to the level to play in public. Tom's different, with all his experience, but nevertheless, I'm sure your support and encouragement is invaluable to him.

Kudos to the band and their philanthropy.

Rock on!

mommakin said...

Well, the time stamps aren't exactly accurate in my time zone... I'm awesome (or so I hear), but not that awesome!

I bet if it was a priority, you could get back to that level with a little dedication. But if it's not a priority, then it's foolish to try to force it.

Besides, as I always say when my girls start with, "Daddy plays bass and Lea plays guitar and bass and Liv plays drums and piano and Mommy goes to a lot of concerts..." if it weren't for fans, there wouldn't be much fame in music. SOMEone's got to go to the concerts and buy the CD's (Damn. I wrote albums and had to delete it. What a drag it is...). The glory is on the stage, but it would be less glorious without the fans.