The Dynasty of Music

How my grandfather inadvertently is the reason my husband plays.

We are going to have a little history lesson today, because I LOVE history, and this is a cool story about The Husband and my families. The Husband and I grew up together in a very small town, the same little farming town both of our grandparents grew up in, and our great grandparents, and so on. We went to school together, the same school our families attended. Our families even had farms right down the road from each other. We have some very deep roots here in our lovely rural mid-Michigan village, and that is where our rockin’ story begins.

As I mentioned back in my first blog, my grandpa played an upright bass in a western swing band throughout the ‘50’s and 60’s. I, unfortunately, never got the chance to hear him play it. I only saw this larger than life beast of an instrument and an old black and white picture sitting on a small table next to it. The fiddle was always tucked behind a bed in the upstairs of the old farm house, covered under an old sheet. As a child, my cousins and I would sneak over and peak at it, plucking the thick strings quietly, letting off its thunderous tones. Fortunately, the rest of our big, Irish catholic family was being naturally too loud downstairs to hear us messing with Grandpas fiddle. It still sits in the upstairs of that old farm house, now occupied by my parents, it seems the only place it should live, relocating it just doesn’t seem right. It’s a bit more weathered these days, but a beautiful steadfast remembrance of my childhood memories and my grandfather. With the exception of my Grandmother talking about her “band wife” experiences (which are much different from the 2017 version I am living) I don’t remember much of anyone talking a whole lot about it, how he came about playing, or anyone else in the band. So, this is where the story begins for me, my grandfather and his big upright fiddle.

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My Grandfather and his big, beautiful bass. I wish I could have be able to watch him play.

I do know, after some fishing, the band played at town halls, old stages, and barn dances across rural mid-Michigan. One being a barn down the road, a family close with ours, the same family in which I would one day, far in the future, be deeply and legally (maritally) tied to. Where my future father-in-law (just a child at this part of the story) saw him play. He says my Grandpa was amazing. “I love watching those guys play, but especially the way your Grandpa hammered on those strings of that big bass.” He told me.  This inspired my father-in-law to try out the bass, as a teenager in the 60’s western swing would not have been a sound music choice, nor would an upright bass, so he went with the electric bass. He still plays to this day, he played in some great local cover bands. His lovely wife, my mother-in-law, even sang for them and played a little percussion. One of my childhood memories of my father in-laws band playing was at our towns (something)centennial celebration, right in the saw mill that sits next to our home now, the home my husband grew up in, and his father before him (roots, people, lots of roots here). I am sure the little boy, my future husband, was running around somewhere as well. As a teenager, they would play at my uncles annual Halloween bash, at this point the future husband was most definitely there, sneaking out back with the other group of teenagers (which included me) to get into teenage trouble, it’s all laughable now, but then I was only a starry-eyed teenager, pining for his attention, trying my hardest to act cooler than I really was. Thank dear, sweet, baby Jesus he actually finds my awkward, straight laced personality somewhat charming and irresistible… I think.

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My father-in-law and his bass. His archives for music is pretty amazing. He’s like the encyclopedia of classic rock.

Before that, though, there was that little boy (one of six), who watched mother and father on the stage with the same inspiration his father had as a child watching my grandpa. With a little guidance from his dad he taught himself to play bass, and with each ‘generation’ they take the music a little further. It now melts my heart to see our son watch him play, and practice with his dad. I wonder if he will follow through, if our son will take the music even further than his most talented father has. It also warms my heart to think that my grandfather is, inadvertently, the reason my husband now plays bass. Sure, it was his own hard work and dedication, it was his father’s own ambitions, but along the line, my grandfather was an inspiration. Our roots run so very deep, an intertwine in a dance that has been written for us in a way that amazes me every day. My husband has almost been chosen for me, but I am getting away from the coolest part of our love story. Of the very beginning of The Husbands journey to music love, a story that keeps writing itself.

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And finally, The husband and his bass. Always learning, always challenging himself… and, I mean, damn, I am pretty lucky!

Find Your People

The female strength is in numbers.

We tried and tried to get off the couch, we planned, we gave ourselves five more minutes, put away our phones, yet here we still sit. The Husband in the pocket, me, my lap top, typing away. It has definitely been a Sunday. We will take to kids to the park for our bike rides and swimming and grilling, but for now we sit, we absorb the busy weekend and create. The kids are now patiently going from video games, to toys, food, tv, more food… why are they always so hungry??? We sit here half way between sleep and creativity. I guess everyone needs that day of rest, that time to unload, and use our outlet. That day is going to be this particular Sunday. I sit here listening to the deep click-clacks of his bass over the radio and reflect on this weekend.

It was an amazing weekend, full of friends and family. The band families came over for a cook out and fire last night (our lives revolve around food and drinks, a necessity at every gathering). It was fun, there was a lot of laughs, and good conversation while all the children and dogs ran around. The radio was cranked, pounds of meat coking over the fire, instruments were out and ideas passed around. The good band family is definitely one to keep if you find it. I love gatherings of great minds and strong hearts, I think that would, at the least, describe all the people in our lives. It is important for bandmates to be close, for obvious reasons (they are practically living together at points). Beyond that, though, their loved ones as well. Band wives see each other a lot: gigs, practices, hangouts. We stop by to pick something up, drop something off, you will get to know each other’s children and the group in whole. They can become your closest support system, nobody will know better what you are going through than a band wife and more than that a band wife from the same band. These gals are so great and strong in my opinion, we are all from different walks, taking different steps, with completely different personalities but we all share one fact, our loves have been brought together to create, and we all have to deal with the chaos that follows. The band family usually extends from immediate family. I have gotten to know parents, siblings, friends, and roommates. It takes a village to raise a band, to support them, to keep them up and running. And I know that this band is in the depths of a great village.

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My people: Band wives go through a lot, why not stick it out together. Excuse the boys in the back, apparently musicians can never get in enough pictures. 

It also takes a village to help with the stress of having a very busy other half that is running all the time, between practices, gigs, travel time, late night focusing and early mornings rising (because music doesn’t always pay the bills and most of these guys are juggling a nine to five along with everything else). When you are the half at home, it can get just as tiring, and we need as much support as we can get. Even if it’s a quick bitch fest in the parking lot before the doors open at a show, one of those rare occasions where all the ladies were able to get together, sans kids and musicians. These are the people you surround yourself with when in this situation. The band family is important, and having an amazing group of girls you can gossip, complain, laugh and relate to is much of a necessity. I like to think we hit the jackpot with the band family, our kids all like getting together, we all get along, and sometimes fireworks (literally) happen. I think my best advice as a band wife would have to be find other band wives. Because even though family is awesome, a lot of times they don’t always understand the ridiculousness we deal with and finding people to relate to is a human need. Like every walk of life, find your people, keep them close, they can become vital to your well-being.

Tarnished Silver

Breaking the Stereotype of the Band Wife Life

This past weekend I went on a weekend trip with the husband, or I should say, following the band around. It was a hot, exhausting, and very fun weekend full of great memories and friends. Yes, another weekend trip away, this time with The Husband. I left the kids at home and hit the big city. I am getting the hang of these rush out of work, get the kids set up, and hit the road trips, all the spontaneity has my head reeling. First, up north, now to the west side of the state, maybe one day I will make it out of the state. In all reality, though, the band trips are not always what they are cracked up to be, I finally got a taste of what the guys go through and it wasn’t a walk in the park. There are a lot of stereotypes out there and for all the musician typecasts there are ones for us band wives. It hit me as I was standing in a sweltering line outside of one of the venues, with my ticket in hand when I ran into a friend and they were astounded that I, the wife of the band, would have to stand in lines, let alone buy a ticket. Most people have a very misconstrued idea of what a band wife is. There are so many stereotypes of us, from Yoko to your average groupie. To be honest, they get a little annoying and leave me somewhat self-conscious of how everyone views me and these blogs. I hope to shine light on some of these.

“I’m with the band” is a joke. Sure, we get to go in the back during set up time, carry a guitar case or two, we might not even have to stand in a line, but it is a very rare occasion when they don’t charge the “support staff”.  I pay the ten to twenty dollars to get my wristband and get in the door at least every other weekend. We may get dibs on the first tickets but we are paying full price and the bar is no different. Nothing sets us apart from any other fan, and I am OK with that, because for every ticket sold is one step higher they go, for every ten dollars we pay, they get two back. We are not just there for emotional support, we help fund the broken-down RV they just bought and the CD’s that need to be printed. Paying for a ticket beats paying out of pocket for the band needs, because what is his is mine, and what is mine is his and what is ours goes to the band.

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I give you the band mobile, their touring chariot, the living quarters of not so rich and famous. 
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She’s a little stinky but it gets them safely from city to city.

“You get to go on tours, sight see, and spend all that travel time with your husband” How about not. Let me walk you through my romantic, touristy weekend with The Husband. First, I rushed to the Friday night show, where after packing up, heading to the store for hotel snacks and drinks, and getting home, our heads hit the pillow around two a.m., six hours of sleep later we were up and ready to hit the road. We arrived at the venue at eleven because that was when they said to be there, which these places are never on time. I don’t know who runs these joints but get it together already! We then were stuck in the parking lot of a strip mall (with, literally, a strip club) waiting, all day. We had an SUV attached to a huge trailer fully loaded with an immense amount of band gear, we were not driving it down town to sight see. They don’t put these rock places near any landmarks, nice parks, or museums, they are on the outskirts, the other side of the tracks, with the strip clubs and the dollar stores. Cities like to hide their riff raff. Thank God for the Five Guys or we would have starved. It was miserably hot all day, I felt sick from the lack of sleep and healthy food (OK, and maybe just a touch of hangover, but I blame all the hotel water I drank that morning). This is touring, it is not glitter and gold, it is hard and tiring. This was only a short trip in state. If anyone thinks I am going on a cross country trip, getting into that busted ass RV with five stinky, sweaty, over partied and under slept dudes for weeks on end you are sorely mistaken, Dear Sir’s. Touring is not a vacation. I really can’t complain (though I just did), I was with The Husband, and as you all know, I will always take what I can get. We were in great company and made some hilarious memories, so the weekend trips I will do again, but I will stay out of the guy’s hair during the long hauls.

On of the highlights of the “touring” experience: my traveling buddy. Most definitely not a Yoko!

 

The Yoko Effect. I can guarantee that ninety-nine percent of us are not trying to break the band up. I know we can seem a little too involved at times (probably an understatement for me, I tend to get real involved) or we can get a little bitchy from time to time, but it is hard when our only time with them is usually shared with band mates. I know what I am in for but it won’t stop me from whining occasionally about him not being around. We don’t always want to be there but we love them, and when you love someone you want to share all their passions, and when there is music involved their passion is most likely one tracked. It becomes a fight or join scenario. It is very challenging for us to be with someone who is always on the go, and if the only way to get quality time is to follow the band around, damnit all, I will! The person I love the most is in a band, and I want to see him successful, happy, and proud; I want to see the band flourish. I guess you can call me a groupie if you so wish (but only for my husband), but don’t ever call me a Yoko!

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The reason for the band wife life, this guy, which I sometimes have to watch perform from the merch table. It’s not all that perfect, and its not all that terrible. Its tarnished silver, but it’s all out of love.