Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Wedding Singer

Contraire to popular belief, being a working musician isn't what it's cracked up to be. Don't get me wrong, I am so so grateful to be paid for something that I love doing. But it's not all glamour & glitz. Far from it in fact. There are nights when I go home & I feel completely & utterly broken. People are like vampires sucking the energy from my marrow.

I am going to lay out a few scenarios for you. Enlighten you if you please.

Being a covers band, we play other peoples songs. People always ask me why don't we play some of our own songs. Fact is, hammered party goers don't want to hear our music. They want, nay DEMAND, songs that they know or slightly know & can sing along to in all phases of drunkenness. Even if they don't really know the lyrics, they will just sing the line they are familiar with & wing the rest.

I have MAJOR spacial issues. My two front teeth have tiny cracks in them & I have suffered the odd split lip. When you dance/jump/sway in front of my microphone stand, or when you fall on me because you lose the ability to stay vertical, my microphone smashes me in the mouth. I like that you want to be close to me, but I don't have anywhere to go. Especially when I have drums up my ass.
It's getting to the point now that I feel like I need to have a sign hanging around my neck saying 'please keep your distance or I will eat your face off'. It drives me bonkers. I actually start to panic when people start getting up in my space. Because I literally can't escape. So if I ask nicely for people to please move back a bit, then out of respect & kindness to me, please do it. It doesn't mean, please come closer, stomp on & spill your drinks all over our gear.

I am not a diva. I love nothing more than letting someone up for a jam. We are the ones getting paid to be there though. And depending on the level of drunkenness at the venue we are playing, if I let you have a go then everyone else will probably decide that it's a free for-all karaoke night as well.
People forget that our gear costs a lot of money & that when we have a break & go outside to get some fresh air it's not time for people to get on the drums & bash the crap out of them. Nor is it time for someone to start spitting & roaring into my microphone. This happens a lot. And it also makes me wild. I wouldn't come up to you on the street, get in your car & take it for a spin without asking first. Same kind of thing really.

If the owner or person in charge nicely asks if one person can do a song I have absolutely no problems with it. What I don't like is having 50+ sweaty drunk people screaming in my face/ear while I'm singing that they want to get up & sing The Gambler or that they sing in a band in China & are really good OR the ones who just come up, put their arm around my shoulder & start helping me sing.
I will get really mad & tell you to bugger off but in less polite language. I'm sure in whatever town you hale from, you are quite the legend musician. Whatever, I don't actually care. I'm am here to do my job, let me do it. Would you like me to come to your place of work & tell you how to do your job? Lay all over your desk & yell in your face while you are trying to speak on the phone? No I didn't think so. Again, same thing.

It is so hard to not be uptight. I try so hard to relax & more often that not we have absolutely cracker gigs. Just every now & then it's really tough work. And I don't like being mean or grumpy but the fact is someone has to stay in control. And usually that's me.

Here are the songs I despise playing. And if you ever ask me to play them I will probably stab you.
Don't ever ask me to play The Gambler by Kenny Rogers. Unless I'm drunk too & then i will just make it up & probably take the piss. This is the most requested song of all time.

Anything by Slipknot or other death metal bands. Hello I am a girl!! I'm sure Slipknot are awesome & I totally respect you for your musical tastes but be fair, girls weren't born with the vocal ability to make gun, car or helicopter noises let alone roar like an angry bear. I can only just pull off girly versions of ACDC & Guns n Roses. Anything beyond that is not for me.

Summer of 69. I have played that 1,000,679 times. However it is a crowd pleaser so I will bite the bullet & do it anyway.

Anything by ABBA. I play in a band with 3 dudes. These 3 guys have an extremely mixed bag of musical tastes, a bag that doesn't include ABBA. We do try to do a bit of everything however Mama Mia & Waterloo just didn't make the cut.

9-5 by Dolly Patron. Yes I am blond & have big boobies but I won't do it. Sorry. Her vocal range terrifies me quite frankly & what terrifies me even more is that it's mostly straight, good looking young men that ask me to sing it. My nickname at high school was Dolly Parton. Go figure.

I Got a Feeling by Black Eyed Peas. Great party song but NO. Just no.

Weddings are tough. By the time the band kicks off the guest are usually either so tired & or extremely intoxicated. And sometimes we have to play out in the wilderness. In the wilderness there are generally bugs & moisture. These 2 things combined with electricity & people is BAD.

Private functions are equal to putting on a private concert. No one will dance unless they are drunk. Until they get to the stage where they feel they have the confidence to cut some shapes on the d-floor, they basically all sit there & stare. Awkward. Yep. It's at these awkward concert-type gigs that I say really stupid things over the mic. When I feel uncomfortable, I say dumb things.

Pub gigs aren't so bad as long as there is door staff. I won't play anywhere now that doesn't have some sort of security. The bouncers at 623 are awesome. If someone is acting like a dickhead, which happens every now & then, I just have to give them a nod & they will sort it out. No agro, just quickly & quietly dealt with. I like they they have our back. However I have been know to sort it out myself. My microphone stand is my weapon of mass destruction.

Being a muso also most definitely takes it's toll on your body. I have calloused guitar fingers. I can also never have long glamorous lady nails as it is literally impossible to play any instrument with long nails. Also my index finger & up yours finger on my right hand always only have half nail polish on them. These are my strumming fingers. My muscles in my upper back have pretty much screwed themselves into tight balls of achy breaky muscle & crunchy loose cartilage. They burn like fire some nights & I clench my teeth through the pain. Or like my friend Sheree, just pop a Valium. When I flex my shoulders I make crunchy noises. Blake says it sounds like coco pops. I have developed nodules on my voice box. Too many years of hollering my lungs out has taken it's toll.  I can get them scraped off but it's not as simple as it sounds. If the surgeon stuffed up, I would more than likely never be able to speak again. So for now I will just deal with it. The doc recommends I keep my singing to once a fortnight. It's exhausting really. I often feel incredibly hung over. Even though I didn't have one drink. I have yet to figure out why that is?

I feel extremely lucky to work in this industry. It's a really humbling job. Especially the feedback we receive from people. Yes sometimes it is incredibly hard but seeing people enjoying themselves makes it all worthwhile. And I have met so many choice people. Other musicians, even local ones, inspire me. There is so much talent around the town I live in. Sadly I don't get to see other bands play very often because I'm usually working as well.

If you do live in Nelson, & you are wanting to go & see some live music, here are some names of bands that I am sure will have you ears singing. And in some cases ringing.

Replikator - Rock music. These guys are very talented. Loud rock like it should be played.
Riccochet - Rock music. Awesome band. The lead singer is kick ass. She inspires me.
Something Else - Pop/Rock/Reggae. I love these guys. They are all top blokes & the lead singer Dan is very good. If I have a night off I usually track these guys down. My body can logistically move to their style of music. Gravity doesn't let me rock out unfortunately. Plus I love Reggae.
Booby Trap - 2 piece duo. These 2 pretty ladies can pretty much play & sing anything & are really popular.
Fez - Haven't heard them play but people always rave about them. On my 'to check out' list.
Gypsy Pickers - Have been around for ages. Amazing folk duo. I rate them highly.

Peace & love
Becky xo

Rock on baby!


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