I could barely speak as I went on the stage at the Val d’Or arena. The muffled crowd of a 100 or so sun baked fans filtered slowly to my ears, as the sound of feedback and my dull attempt to tune the cheap guitar in my hands seemed deafening. It was deafening and I beckoned someone to tell the inebriated sound man to turn down the volume so I wouldn’t bust my eardrums. It was a nightmare come true, my first attempt at rock stardom and fame, as I was destined to be one day, someone who would rock the world with my inane tunes, songs that no one heard before, songs that I hadn’t even heard before and I wrote them!
Thus my entry into live entertainment.
I looked behind to my back up band, who slowly backed up and off the stage, leaving me to fend for myself against the hordes of endearing fans. Who wanted to be part of a growing legend? Someone who didn’t like my music, and it just happened to be the band who played for me. Might as well, I thought, and I looked out to the expectant crowd of seven, mostly males, hanging around the front of the stage.
I strummed the first notes of my first song that I ever wrote, and the soundman perked up and adjusted his headphones and gave me the thumbs up. I was rocking and rolling as I wretched up the words to the songs from my now parched and unwilling vocal cords and played the guitar like Jimmy Hendrix high on Perrier water. Amazingly, people danced to the first song that I made up, something to do with Halloween. I must confess, I don’t know how to play anyone else’s music, so I had to make up my own. I even had a hard time remembering how my songs went and how the three basic cords were to be played.
Three songs later, a very enthusiastic crowd pummeled me with adoring comments, like “where did you learn to play like that?”, “is that a new wave song?”, “could you come to our community and perform for us?”. Of course, I had no answers to any of those questions, as I could barely respond due to the enormous amount of perspiration I exuded during my brief stint as a rock star. I went back stage (actually the change room at the arena) where the next band was tuning their banjos and fiddles. A photographer quickly slung me up with an electric guitar and had me pose against the dark bare walls of the change room. The next day, I picked up my glossy photo and gave it to my dad, who begrudging accepted this token of appreciation as fan number one.
I always heard music at some time in my young life played wither by my dad, who is a whiz with the accordion and can play any polka at the drop of a hat or flick of the skirt. I had seen the Beatles as they sang “I wanna hold your hand” on the Ed Sullivan Show and told my mother that I wouldn’t grow my hair long, because I was afraid of all those screaming girls; how times have changed. I listened to Hank Williams and the Flying Sombreros, the Harmonicats and even Elvis, until one fateful day, my uncle hooked up his reel to reel Sony stereo and played the Rolling Stones as loud as my mother would allow him to. “What’s that?” I lamented, barely able to hold back from covering my ears.
“That’s rock and roll”. I never looked back and my new found heroes came to life on a stereo that my mother ordered from Reader’s Digest. My friends crowded around in my room, as we spasmodically fiddled with the latest in sound technology. “Wow! Bass. Wow treble…wwwowww, balance!” Yep, Rod Stewart, Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan, Crowbar, Iron Butterfly even Neil Diamond songs bounced around my room, and still do. Music has changed since then, I hear. Perhaps one day. I’ll find all those old albums and retrofit my meager collection and reflect back to the days when flower power overcame firepower.
Peace be with you.