I dropped out of college at 21 and was going nowhere real fast. For some reason I couldn’t figure out what in the hell I wanted to do with my life. My sister, Dede, had just finished playing a one-year stint in Vegas with a show band. She was bone weary at 19 and came home knowing she didn’t want to sing for other people anymore.
Music is Dede’s lifeblood, more so than mine. I could sing, but I didn’t have the kind of talent my sister was born with. My mother had both of us singing on command together when we were just little tykes. The two of us were naturals we had been doing it for so long. Even so, I was a bit reluctant when Dede came up with what she thought was a brilliant idea; she wanted to start a band of our own.
My love for my sister is beyond measure. She needed me for this adventure so I took the leap with her. To tell you the truth, it wasn’t easy getting a band together. Good musicians didn’t want to take a chance on two young untried girls. The only thing we had going for us was our parent’s had fronted us money for sound equipment. It was a difficult long slog that first year, but we somehow managed to keep getting gigs. Word got out quickly that we were a working band and it got easier and easier to find quality musicians. Soon after, we got a manager and that is when life on the road began.
I was excited at first. Wow, life on the road, what could be better than that? I would get to travel all over, see new things, and meet new people. Then reality, as it always does, set in. Endless hours of driving between gigs and the set up, tear down, set up, tear down, set up, tear down of equipment became a dreaded never ending cycle. Then there was arriving at a new place to see that it was just like the last place. Performing was the only thing to look forward to. Unfortunately, performing only took up four hours of the day. The rest was sheer monotony.
We became night creatures, only venturing forth into the light of day when absolutely necessary. It was normal to go to bed just as the sun was coming up. Bars would keep serving liquor to their select friends and us after closing time. Who didn’t want to party with the band? In bigger cities, like Minneapolis, there was always an after hours bar around for musicians. These were the fun times, watching and listening to great musicians jam. Dede and I were accepted in these after hours clubs even though the musicians were so far out of our league it was laughable. I think they liked us around because we were young, pretty and still had stars in our eyes. The crushing defeat of not making it big hadn’t settled in our bones yet. We were like little kittens they wanted to protect.
A late night. This is my bass player, Tim, getting cheeky.
The worst part of being on the road was the hotel rooms. Every one of them smelled the same, stinky! Every one of them looked the same, dingy rooms with horrible artwork adorning the walls, maybe burnt orange bed coverings here or blue in the next hotel to break up the pace. If we were lucky, which did happen on occasion, we were given three rooms instead of two. Most bands only need two rooms, but most bands didn’t have girls in them. Bars would contract with hotels to keep rooms for the bands they booked. We were usually stuck at the farthest end of hell tucked next to a boiler room, hotel laundry or some other rooms that the hotel didn’t want real paying customers to have.
Wow, I forgot how messy we were.
When we were only given two rooms is when the guys would grumble. Two girls and six guys didn’t fit if the girls hogged a room to themselves. If Dede and I were feeling generous or we had just made an exhausting drive, we would let two guys stay with us. And here is something I never could understand; none of the guys would share a bed with each other. I thought that was just silly. If we let two stay in our room they would only sleep on a bed if Dede and I split up. The guys in the other room would take turns sleeping in the beds and on the floor. I’m sorry, but I would forgo squeamishness to sleep in a freaking bed if I were them. Then again, I’m a girl, what do I know?
After a couple years of this we had made a name for ourselves. We were finally able to get the kind of talented musicians who would help take us to the next level. We started writing and performing our own songs. We were still a cover band, but we were on our way to becoming something more. Did I happen to mention that very talented musicians are also a very big pain in the ass? No? Well, that is another story for another day.
Different ways to fill the hours before show time. Work on a set list.
My personal favorite, coloring.
Laundry. Tim getting cheeky again.
You never knew who might show up at our door. To Dede's happy surprise, a cute pizza delivery guy.
To my surprise, a happy gnome.
Ready to head out.