The plan was 2012 would end with an explosion of kick-booty rock and roll done right in front of a large crowd of raucous party hounds.
Unlike our last gig, I’d pulled out all the stops graphically, had two dozen flyers and a custom poster printed on photo-grade paper no less at the venue November 1st – the day after Halloween and the first official day of the quote-unquote Holiday Season: free food, prizes, cheap drinks and live, hella-loud classic rock on New Year’s Eve courtesy of the best band out of Terrell, Texas, the mighty East Texas Garage Band. Had the gig up on Facebook with invites sent out; had the event listed on the local news website; and had the show updated on Reverbnation.com.
Our fill-in drummer for the show was an old friend and former band mate of Dave’s, a nice guy named Randy, and Randy was/is simply amazing. He was great on Patrick’s kit, and then when he brought out his own rig, he kicked it up yet another notch. Basically, if he heard the song, he could play the song – just what the doctor ordered on such short notice. Drumming wasn’t going to be a problem.
The month off was a problem. As a vocalist, when I don’t rehearse I tend to forget or change the words – once I’ve got the melody down, though, it stays remembered. Not so with guitarists – not only do their heads have to remember the tune, their hands have to remember the tune, as well. If someone’s been burning the candle at both ends for a solid month, if someone’s been dealing with family/work drama for days and weeks with no reprieve on the horizon, they are going to end up with a disconnect between their memory and their motor reflexes. Both of our guitarists had been working their narrow tails off, both of our guitarists had been dealing with family issues – both our guitarists had some difficulty getting back into the swing of things once rehearsals started back up. By our last rehearsal before the show, songs were being dropped from the set list, lead vocals were being swapped out, and the band was struggling with certain tunes. No one was immune – as often as Paul or Gary were forgetting their solos, Dave and I were forgetting lyrics. The time off had not been our friend.
The last rehearsal, the band decided to try tuning down a half-step. Not every vocalist has Bruce Dickinson’s or Steve Perry’s range – tuning down just a half-step makes all the high notes easier to sing while the band doesn’t have to relearn those songs in a different key; and because it’s just a half-step, the melody sounds pretty much the same to the singer’s ear, so they don’t have to relearn the song. It does feel different when the vocalist sings the song, though – the singer is using different muscles and placing the note in a different place than what they were accustomed to. My brother’s band tunes down and I had sung with them before, so the half-step didn’t throw me – I actually embraced it. I could hit the high note on Tush without needing to go into my head voice, I could sing Fortunate Son without screaming out my voice, and I was still singing strong at the end of the night. Dave loved the change as well – his high harmonies on Take It Easy were stronger, he wasn’t screaming his voice out on Tush, and he still had something in the tank after The Cowboy Song.
The guitarists, Paul and Gary, weren’t so lucky. While technically the song is the same, acoustically everything sounds just a wee bit different. One rehearsal over a week before the gig was not enough to instill the new melodies into memory: Paul and Gary would hit a chord, not hear what they were expecting, and their first instinct was that they were playing the chord wrong – when they went to correct, they’d slide out of tune. A couple of our best songs had issues.
The night of the show, the band starting getting emails, texts, and Facebook messages from friends and family members: “So sorry, can’t make it. Got to work/just got sick.” RSVP after RSVP started falling by the wayside. My six guarantees and two maybes never arrived. Most of Paul’s hardcore folks never arrived. My brother sent out a Facebook message to his band’s fans, directed them to my gig – none of them arrived. It was a Monday night, it was cold, it was wet, a lot of folks had the creeping crud, so a lot of folks decided staying home with the rugrats was the way to bring in the New Year. Even my lovely Lady Fair was down for the count – I made her stay home after she’d been home sick with the flu since Christmas night.
God bless Joe and Laurie – you two have no idea how much the band appreciates your continuous support.
The venue did have some regulars, and as I’d hoped more folks showed up after the 10 o’clock hour (why? No idea); the place never filled to capacity, though, and that disappointed me – I’d been looking forward to this gig for months. The best New Year’s Eve I ever spent was working as a DJ for a dance – just like my birthday, if given my druthers I’d pick performing with the band over attending a party or staying at home any day of the week and twice on Sunday. I was hoping for a huge crowd of shiny, happy people for our last show of the year – just didn’t happen that way.
As far as the last show of 2012 was concerned, I could’ve used another rehearsal – I stumbled over some lyrics we hadn’t performed in a while, and we were still just winging the new tune. Vocally, I’ve never sounded better – I had strangers hunt me down to specifically compliment my voice, both at my show and Kelly’s show a couple of nights before. I wasn’t singing this well in college. A couple of the songs were off to races rhythmically – to be expected when you’ve got a new drummer sitting in – and a couple of the songs went into wonky keys – also to be expected if you’re still unaccustomed to tuning down. Overall, a pretty decent show, nothing to be ashamed of.
While the first twelve months of this blog was officially over in November, I’m still counting this as the end of first year; and if you grade these last fifty-two weeks by the blog’s mission statement, I failed miserably. I ended the year with no weight lost and no instruments learned. If you grade the year by how I feel about how the process went, however, the year was a big success: I performed a capella, I fronted my brother’s band at the last minute, I sang two shows in one week, I drove hundreds of miles to do three shows in one month, and I auditioned for a national televised program. I’m singing my best ever, with still room for improvement, and I’m more confident than ever I can actually do this. I can become a Rock Star.
Good-Bye 2012. Hello 2013! Grand things on the horizon!