Last night Jon and I decided to check out an open jam night in a neighboring city…I have to admit I wasn’t really up for it…life has been kicking me in the teeth lately with steel reinforced combat boots and the thought of one more mediocre guitarist murdering Stevie Ray Vaughn made my ears want to bleed but I mustered up some excitement, fluffed out my hair and we headed north.
The club was fairly vacant, typical Wednesday night jam kind of crowd…but as we sat down the second band on the bill started playing and my ears perked up…wow, what an anomaly a cover band that actually knows the riffs, fills and has a singer that can mimic Brad Arnold and Danny Joe Brown in one set. My feet were tapping and despite the derigeur outfits of ill fitting teeshirts and jeans, I was quite impressed. After their last cover (a David Allen Coe cover) I was hooked—here would be a great band to possibly hire for Corporate gigs and such….
After their set I found the lead singer and went up to him, not up on my David Allen Coe I wasn’t sure what the last song was, I introduced myself and told him I was impressed and asked where they normally played. Suddenly I noticed out of the corner of my eye, that a woman was listening intently to me and I thought perhaps it was his wife and she was getting territorial…
Nope, turned out she was the band leader’s fiance and she asked me what I did. When I told her I was in marketing and also worked as a music journalist and critic she was hell bent on looking for a bar napkin to give me their contact info. I realized the flood gates had opened when another guy walked over and told me his band wasn’t playing but he wanted to talk to me anyway….Note to self- tell someone you’re in Banking next time and this won’t happen.
But all kidding aside, I actually knew where the woman was coming from…while I didn’t sport her 3 pack a day cigarette habit or blonde dye job…I knew her, better than she thought I did.
Despite being in and or around the music business most of my adult life I always tried really hard NOT to date guys in bands…it’s a slippery slope and you will get eaten up and spit out again before you know it. As I listened to this woman tell me about her boyfriend’s band and her daughter who was in broadcast journalism, my mind wandered….
Years ago I had walked away from my rock star after we had a slight disagreement.. I had said something to the effect that I wondered why he never figured me into the equation, and , “Will I ever be number one in your life?” To which he responded “never”. I was stunned he had the guts to say that to me when we were standing in my kitchen and I was near the steak knives but perhaps years of always putting himself first and Mayron makeup had done some collateral damage.
In the end I was glad he said it- because 2, 3 or 4 are not my favorite spots anyway and I had been needing an excuse to cut the line. Helping with press kits,booking gigs, showing support at shows where it was either 100 degrees or 40 hadn’t really had the r.o.i. one would expect. I kept giving more and getting less in return…I was being taken advantage of and it was becoming exhausting. Fanning the ego gave me carpel tunnel alone…
Then much later, after the dust had settled in some kind of weird universe throwing you a smackdown, I got an email telling me about a documentary about his band. I had known it was being filmed for sometime I just didn’t know it was done and out there. Post break up I was asked to check it out and to promote it.
Ok to request number one, hell no to number two.
I went to youtube and found it and kind of skimmed and fast forwarded through it…on the one hand I was glad I had been curious.
Seeing him talk about the gloriousness of being in a tribute band didn’t stir any feelings…those had been killed long ago. And watching the performances was mildly entertaining…because at the end of the day the performances are good but when I fast forwarded to footage of him and his band meeting and greeting the fans, I let the video play. I saw girls freaking out over them, asking for their body parts to be signed, begging for pictures, etc and what was most important is I saw the look in his eyes of pure and utter joy at the attention.
A look I never received.
I hit the stop button.
And I waxed poetic about the end of an era.
My era (4 years) of being the woman behind some guy in a band. Behind meaning no more booking shows, redoing press kits, shooting videos, paying mortgages other than my own and definitely no more less than number one status….From now on as I clicked off the Youtube page, it was nothing less than “with” or “side by side”…
So when my friends asked if I would ever date another musician again after that experience I told them this.
Having been around the music scene my entire adult life I had purposefully NOT dated musicians as a habit. But, by coincidence, my first husband turned out to be a drummer but he was never egomaniacal about it. Then there was the one who WAS egomaniacal and a drummer. Ummm maybe it has something to do with DW’s? Either way being involved with an artist of any ilk will sometimes mean compromise, and if you’re lucky you may find a musician, artist, photographer, etc who has the balance and perspective to know what is important and what isn’t …but I had to be honest , at least in my experience it was pretty rare. I had walked a mile in those pumps and I had watched others do it too…But to answer the question, yes I would and I had…and it was different, but there were still rules….
Rule #1: You will always deal with the groupie syndrome. Something I have never fathomed. But yes ….Virginia…. there is a Santa Clause and there are also women who will date ANYONE(or want to date anyone ) as long as they are in a band , any band, any time. Their sense of boundary is completely borderless and at some point it will happen right in front of you. MySpace and Facebook make it even more prevalent because now the internet gives people glitter graphic options to profess their “support” vis a vis stripper chick cartoons featuring plastic 5″ stilettos and thongs screaming Happy Humpday.
Rule #2: You will have to be confident in order to deal with rule#1, and have a thick skin. You can’t let the braless girl in the teeshirt that says “I’m with the bass player” get into your head, because once she does it’s a never ending tug of war. You have to keep everything in perspective and hope your significant other does the same….keeping in mind it must be hard not to when women are fawning because he can strum a chord or twirl a stick. No pun intended.
Rule # 3: He will more than likely never understand rule #1 or rule #2. Case in point, I was talking with two friends of mine who just happen to be married to musicians ages ago about this very subject.Both of them have great marriages and their husbands are wonderful guys who put family first and are people I actually admire. We were chatting and the general consensus that even in the best of circumstances it’s hard to not be jealous or worry…but the guy will never see that. I offered, “You know what guys- they don’t mean to be unaware, but they will never understand what it is like to be the significant other of someone in a band. To them it is all innocent or dismissed but for the girlfriend, wife— whatever the moniker, you know that regardless of any social mores, there are women who want to be in your place, simply because of who it puts them beside. And it’s in your face, all the time…kind of like the Fox network…you know it’s not right but it exists all the same.”
Rule #4: For the right guy, 1, 2 and 3 are all worth it.
I broke out of my reverie and looked at the woman who wanted my business card and was telling me I had the whole package…apparently my business card is uber impressive…whole package? Sweetie right now I don’t even feel like I have wrapping paper much less the whole package!
Still, there was something about her…..she was sweet and earnest and trying to help someone she loved and admired..so I was nice in return… because as it goes I had been there- done that- and needless to say I got the tee shirt .