Cheerleader ACTUALLY Backflips for Music…
I didn’t like music as a kid. There, I said it. I’m even proud to say it because my journey into loving music was a serendipitous one but at first I was forced to play. Mom just about dragged me to the music store in tears and I became hooked on clarinet, but that was when some rumor went around that I could play drums. This was news to me, since I’d never owned a drum set, but some guy heard me drumming on my lap at lunch break and all of a sudden his smiling friend is coming up to me asking if I wanted to be in their band.
I told him I wasn’t a drummer because I couldn’t afford a drumkit, but he shrugged it off and invited me to their practice space after school. They had a shiny green drum set itching to be played. I took a seat at the drum throne (that’s what it’s really called!), they called me a natural and I don’t remember much of the next four years of high school after that.
But one memory that I’ll never forget was during my sophomore year, when we played our 1st gig at an outdoor school event as the sun was setting. After our set, out of thin air, a beautiful cheerleader walked straight up to me. My friends and I were geeks, weirdos, slackers, so this was unheard of…
This cheerleader made me a deal that she’d backflip for me if I handwrote my band’s lyrics on a sheet of paper for her, and the next thing you know this girl is literally backflipping for me. Quiet, shy, me! She landed square on her feet 2 feet away from my face, and now my eyes were open: This musician thing is my path.
I expanded beyond drums at that point because music gave me a purpose, gave me an identity, gave me worth. Being from a family of graduate school achievers, folks were worried about me, but music gave me something I could sink my teeth into. It was a way that a drowning kid could stay afloat, even sail the seas.
My buddy showed me some guitar chords, I started taking bass lessons from a blind man who was the town’s best bassist, I continued to teach myself how to play drums and sing– this was my real homework, and music was my high school.
The summer before college was when I began dating this cheerleader’s friend, so I was happy yet bummed we only had 3 months together. In a moment of sadness I suddenly heard a melody in my head… I started humming this melody over and over again and in a trance, grabbed a pen and paper. I told my sad story to the blank white page and the truth became clear– she was leaving, but music would never leave me. I started singing my lyrics, picked up my guitar, and after about a half hour I couldn’t even remember why I was sad.
When she left for UCLA, I proudly dropped out of city college and became a vampire who wrote songs while the world slept. I began singing at open mics, then at monthly singer/songwriter showcases and eventually I became the front man of a band with serious hustle. We set up national tour after national tour, soldiered on and eventually partnered with the man who produced a Grammy Winning Tom Waits album and also engineered Bob Marley’s ‘Legend.’ Oz Fritz was a modern day wizard, and it was bewitching to watch him work his magic on our new record. When we finished it, he simply told us, “go kick some ass.”
We pounded the pavement and packed the Great American Music Hall with fellow band New Monsoon. We sold out the Fox Theater with friends Hot Buttered Rum. Standing room only. As a cherry on top, we got an email on my birthday from the former lawyer of the Dave Matthews Band, and he became our manager– We were on a roll! But, like every band we had roadblocks such as winter tour in Wyoming when our wheels froze, or when our bus finally broke and we had to get it towed! Or that earthquake during rehearsal… I actually have that on film!
True. My Mom forced me into music as a kid, sure, but after being blessed enough to have shared a festival bill twice with Ben Harper, gotten encouragement from Boyd Tinsley of the Dave Matthews Band and advice from Bono of U2… after performing with members of the Grateful Dead and Sly & the Family Stone… and doing private gigs for Chris Tucker and Venus Williams, I’ve learned this for sure: it’s the people I meet in person, or online… It’s the way they make me feel that I remember about this musical journey.
So perhaps even more importantly than the journey, it’s YOU, the listener, that makes all of it matter.
I look forward to many more sometimes hard, sometimes ugly, always worthwhile experiences along this musical journey. Here’s to hoping that you are a part of that journey..
If you’d like to hear a huge milestone of that journey, click here to listen to my ‘Dreaming Seed’ album.
Thank you for being a listener, being a part of Team B and making it all matter. Thank you Mom for dragging my reluctant butt to the music store at 11 yrs old, and then 11 yrs. later painting the album cover for Dreaming Seed, my 1st album.. I can never repay you!
If you comment below I’ll get right back! -B