Thursday, September 23, 2010

Finding the Beat

I've been singing and performing since I was teeny-tiny. It was just something I always dug, whether it was a performance in my shower, in my mom's van, in front of the fireplace, at church (as a kid), or on a stage--once I got the bug I was hooked. Call it a middle-child phenomena, but I felt a strong draw to do stuff in front of people that would later be rewarded with applause. This carried over into sports, dance, competative speech, vocal performances, and later as a teen and young adult into being in a band.
I first decided I wanted to be in a band when my 14 year old ears heard Veruca Salt pumping through the audio system of my friend's cool older sister's car. I knew right then that being in a band was the shit and I needed to make it happen. So yeah--just start a band right? No problem right? WRONG.
The dilema was as follows: I only played violin (which is really hard to play and sing at the same time) and the only guitar players I knew were boys. Did any of these said boys want to be in a band with a chick singer? They did not. They wanted to sound like Metalica.

And so it began. Frustrated by this initial setback, I decided if no one would play guitar for me, I would be my own hero and learn. Peice of cake right? Wrong. I begged my dad to hook me up with an acoustic I could practice on. This request was met with a big fat no, seeing as how most of my siblings had tried their hands at various instruments only to later discard them. My parents had an awesome collection of unplayed instruments going and were not about to add to the pile.

So I did what any poor teen would do--begged, borrowed and stole (not really). I borrowed a friend's guitar and learned some basic chords. I learned that D,C,A,and E could get you pretty far. After a year of borrowing from a friend, my dad finally came around and bought me some yard sale find. I practiced on that thing constantly, finding the chord--then singing a line, the pausing to find the next chord and singing the next line. It was a slow and frustrating process which made me like it even more. I WILL tackle this.

I wrote some songs with the help of my ex-boyfriend (a brilliant writer and poet). I started playing some open mics at local bars (I was under 21 but most let me in just to play), and coffee shops in town.

I recorded these songs for free with some recording engineer students at college. Upon hearing my project, the recording teacher asked to record me. Things were looking up.
I jammed for awhile with a female bass player, an awesome classical guitarist, and the recording teacher as my drummer. It just made me thirsty for more. The group was fun and interesting but no one wanted to call it a "band". This frustrated me.

Enter Rachel. I had a super awesome bud named Rachel who also played acoustic guitar at a local coffee shop in town. We would sometimes sing backup for each other at these open mics. Finally, a kindred spirit! Another girl who plays music and writes music and is constantly compared to Jewel just because no one can think of any other singer/songwriters to compare you to!

We decided over Christmas break one year to make a go of it and start a band. Since Rachel knew more chords than me on guitar, I was the designated bass player. Rachel's roommate had owned a bass for awhile and never learned to play it (I think this was where our bass came from?). Alice was born. We started writing songs that made us laugh. Then we started writing some seriously artistic stuff. We got an awesome drummer.

We continued to play at bars and outdoor shows and small festivals. We got better. And during all this time, I graduated, got a "real" job, got married, got pregnant, moved an hour away. Rachel got sick of hicktown MO and finally decided to hit the road with her man and move to Eugene OR. And Alice went on a hiatus.

So now that things are settling down a bit with the baby and I'm trying to find my own beat again, where does it all leave me musically? My goal was never to be famous. I always knew music would be a part of me forever and fanticized about singing jazz in my 50's and 60's. I always felt that it would be there for me whenever I needed it.

But you know what? I miss it. I don't just miss playing, I miss the stage. I miss performing. I miss being challenged creatively and collaborating. I miss Rachel and I miss Alice.

So where does this leave me? I guess I can always wait until Everleigh's old enough to play and start a band with her :P There's no real point to this. I'm just really greiving the loss of something that was never mine to own in the first place. Maybe it's time to blow the dust off the baby Martin and grab a new song by the short and curlies.
PS: You can check out my old band Alice here:

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