Sunday, February 23, 2014

Love Letter to My Band

I am the lead singer in a rock and roll band called Low Rise. We do primarily deep cut covers of classic rock songs peppered with a few glam and cock rockers as well. Ive been a member for about a year and a half now since they parted ways with their previous singer and I joined, after being out of any kind of rock and roll scene since my cross country tour with Bang Camaro in 2009. A triple shot of the "D"s will do that to you.. I'm, of course, referencing my other tour..that three and a half year traverse through death,divorce and depression that I've blathered on about ad nauseum on this here blog.

The five of us meet in a miniscule basement room in South Philly that smells a bit like a litter box once a week to practice, working through our repertoire like any good bar band should. We are all in our mid 30s to mid 40s with busy lives and different musical backgrounds, and the goal is to play out once a month or so. We struggle and stumble like any other band on this level of dedication, with that wanna be rock star dream firmly in our rear view mirrors. On some weeks, life gets in the way of perfecting that drum fill, hot lick, or vocal inflection. And on just as many occasions, we feel the click..we're in the groove and the songs sound superb.In all honesty, we never know what can transpire, but the focus is to rock hard and carry a big stick to the best of our abilities, basically pressure free.

I'm the only member who is a parent, and who is single. Getting to practice ain't easy, and when my son is with me, he tags along, mostly on school nights. I work downtown, and he goes to school in our neighborhood. On practice days I have to drive 40 minutes from work to pick him up at an aftercare program at school, stop home to change and scramble to make a sandwich or stop for a slice of pizza en route back down to the city in time for practice at seven. There he has to gobble his dinner, do his homework and entertain himself while Dad mans the mic down in the basement. Bless his sweet little head.

When I first joined this band, I had my doubts. It wasn't a perfect scenario, it wasn't a "good enough" scenario for a weathered old pro like myself. I bit my tongue, I kept my ego and my comments in check. I had always been a team player in all of the bands I was in, even those I started and led. But my two cents were the ONLY two cents that ever mattered in my mind, so the emotion was rote at that point. There were a handful of times I was ready to exit stage left, and go back to my lifestyle of staring at the glass half empty and torturing myself by complaining about it. That cop- out has caused so many missed opportunities that I've lost count, and when I finally picked up that tally where I'd left off, I was at a dead end every single time.Boo fucking Hoo.....

Something has changed from that point to the one where I am at this very moment. Much to my surprise, I started to have fun.Fun! That anomaly, that sham, that foreign body trying recklessly to permeate my soul all these years..... After a few months, I was able to warmly(and with affection) introduce my sarcasm to certain situations, snafus and false starts within the confines of practice, and slowly, my true character came to light and was well received. No way! Way! I realized that I had a buddy or two to go to rock shows with, to socialize with outside of practice after years of going it alone. I realized that I had not only bandmates, but friends. In short, I got over myself, I saw that glass half empty, chugged it and filled it up again. I was able to forget my troubles and just rock steady for a few hours a week, but gain some friends for a much longer period of time. Invaluable lesson.

When you have a connection you didn't have before, you start to tend to it, nurture it grow. I started to want to go to practice, NEED to go to see my friends! And maybe play a few rock songs while we're at it. That really meant the world to a surly bitch like myself. To be amongst peers, who accepted me for who I am and actually valued my company. When you have that connection, you put more effort forth, effortlessly.

We've had a pretty good run as of late, and are just coming off a sort of triumphant gig to a packed house, where I battled a horrible sore throat that arrived two days before the show. I was able to make it through, with my band at my side, just up there rocking socks and taking names. I am sure that the rock solid connection I now have with my bandmates had a shit ton to do with it.

So thank you,fellow members of Low Rise. Thank you my friends Derek, Robert, Christian and Jen for everything you do for me, inside and out of that basement. Here's to more gigs, more laughs and more love...


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Salt, No Rock

It's the 12th day of februweary and the fifth stay at home and out of work day with my son, as winter tears wider our new assholes here in the northeast. Because of my custody arrangement, I'm with the boy every other week. Every single one of those fucking snow days fell on one of my days,so again, like Groundhog day in the fucking tundra, we're trapped here. Nannies and baby sitters and mothers in laws and live in grandparents and neighborly housewives who stay at home all day and are more suited for this madness and might accept a barter so one can go to fucking work..... are a luxury for most working stiffs, are not in my reality. Them's the stuff dreams are made of.

 I'm in a small apartment that looked like the lego bomb exploded and the rainbow of shrapnel is everywhere, just waiting to pierce a sock and break skin on my way to take a piss. There are mass graves of stuffed animals everywhere, splayed and contorted in a furry blur, There are downed and crushed paper airplanes, There are trails of crumbs that look like gunpowder trailing up to the bomb that is me.. and  coagulated spills of ample hues and jackets mere inches away from their hooks There is a purring purple vein doing para diddles in my temple as the boy keeps procrastinating his clean up. I wouldn't care but I've no playroom, no basement, no yard, no space, no ideas here so the path from important point A to more important point B is a critical one. One littered with these plastic landmines a lumbering giant like myself will be sure to make contact with.

 The grumpiness rolled in like a tasty wave on Feb.1 and a perfect storm of body blows and repercussion concussions have littered my human highway. There is a constant scrum in this pitiful month of trickery, between sadness and ridicule. I feel like that crying Native American from those TV ads, except a truckload of frat boys and lawyers have started chucking the trash at me while they high five without spilling their Bud Lites and I'm naked, laden with snotcicles and it's snowing. It's so goddamn white outside that mother nature seems like a racist thug handing out pamphlets that turn into noreasters when you most expect it. As for Philly, there's more salt on potato chips here than there are on the fucking roads. I was doing a little math as the thermometer pulsed to overdrive on the side of my head...

In my home town of Rochester, there lives what, less than 250k people? The ratio of Snowplow to people is around 20 to 1. They are in the Northeast, they know it and they are prepared. We may have had to dog sled it to the bus stop a few times but we made it. If you could sled down a drift from your bedroom window to get to that dog sled, you were going to school. Those roads were clear. Here in Philadelphia, the ratio of snow plow to people is about 100k to 1 in a city of 1.5 MILLION. That means if there's snow to your ankle, the kids stay home and your summer gets shortened. For comparison, this is the city of Comcast. The ratio of Comcast Vans to people is about 20 to 1, because people need their 120 channels of nothing when they are stuck inside on a snow day, crippled without a playdate,cabin fevered up the yin yang with only walls to climb ahead of them. As far as I'm concerned Pennsylvania is in the goddamn Northeast. Less buying Networks, more plows. Less signing baseball players in their late 30s, more plows. Less scrapple, more salt. if I could wring out the salt from my pores and melt a path to my freaking job, I would.  Hell if I started now, I would get there faster than a plow got to me.

Monday, February 03, 2014


Phil Hoffman, thank you for your immersion into your art. You made me believe. You made me smile. You made me remember why we do what we do.


Here you are, the bully bridge between
the coughed out blue and the reborn green.
Eternal tease point of the year
a windy slap leaves nothing clear. the lingering doubt of your courtesy call.
you cackled while siphoning all of the color from fall
and covered our cars and stuttered our gait,
made every heavy dream find a blanket and wait.
you roll your cold tongue over this here northeast
encasing bad news in a freezable feast.

We've never seen eye to eye to eye
unless there's a storm that waits for a name nearby.
you slow down my mourning, yet I'm speeding in think.
cold cocked by memories and soaking in drink.
you muscle in nelsons, I'm driven to mat.
you exhale and white out entire habitats.
I've come up with, after provocation and persistence,
no goddamn good reason for your very existence.