Reads: 34

A Band is Born

An authoritative knock on the door reverberated through the Rockstar’s dressing room.  Don answered it.  Expecting to see his family, the Rockstar was shocked to see two uniformed police officers standing there.  “What do you need?” demanded Don. 

“We would like to talk to the Rockstar about what happened tonight.  Mr. Horton’s accident is beginning to look suspicious and we need to explore who we may need to talk with,” responded the larger, more imposing police officer.

“He is in no condition to talk currently,” argued Don.  “He has not yet seen the members of the band since the tragedy took place almost an hour ago.  He has not seen his family who are on their way from where they were sitting in the Saddledome.  Why is this so critical at this time?”

“In an investigation, it is critical to identify what has happened and who might have been involved!” growled the other officer, whose patience was notably wearing thin.  “It is critical to start an investigation immediately.”

“We all want to help.” responded Don, the manager “but we are all in a state of shock!”  “A bit more time and a little more compassion would be most helpful now.  Do I need to get our lawyer in here now?”

Prompted by the veiled request for names of suspects, the Rockstar’s mind raced back to when the first band was assembled.  Thoughts of Sandie coursed through his mind.  It had been a long while!

 

The new year began with much to look forward to.  All the members of the Trio would turn 17 during this year.  All 3 would begin their final year of high school.  The Trio would be the band for the trial dance in April.  A decision regarding Bobby Evers as a drummer would need to be made.  All of these adventures would likely have a major impact on their futures.

The first practice of the Trio was held the week they returned to school after the Christmas/New Year break.  The Rockstar, Sandie and Mark gathered in the basement studio for their first practice in over two weeks.  The need to talk about the dinner with Bobby and make a decision about the wisdom of starting a band prior the test dance was the first topic of conversation.

The Rockstar looked at his music mates and posed the pivotal question, “Are we ready to embark on starting a band prior to the trial exclusively teen dance in April?”  Everyone looked at each other but did not speak.  The Rockstar then offered a couple of plausible scenarios.  The first scenario was for the Trio to perform at this dance as they had at the last teen performance/dance.  There would be some minor differences by offering a larger and more varied set list.  The electrification of the guitars would be different.  It would be successful and with less work for the Trio.  The second scenario was to give Bobby a tryout to see what he could do as a drummer, decide if he would add significantly to the group, integrate him into the music and have and be a part of the upcoming dance.  This scenario would take some time and more work for the Trio but would increase the chance of success of this pivotal dance.  The Rockstar further added that the fiscal success of this trial dance could be a defining factor in the Trio’s thinking for our personal plans for the Grade 12 year and beyond.  He ended with everyone stating their choice and a brief rationale for that choice.

To the surprise of no one Sandie spoke first.  “You both know my thing is folk music.  I find no excitement in rock either as a listener or a performer.  I believe drums would add to our sound and impressiveness as a group.  In essence, we would be a band.  I really like the idea of finishing this school year off without having to do too much extra work and to have more time to have fun.  I would choose to keep the Trio as is and see where it goes.”

Mark indicated he was ready to share his perspective.  “I love being in the Trio.  It has been incredible working with you two and it has given me a taste for more.  With our talent and if Bobby could add to what we 3 can do, I am all in for forming a band.  We could blow everyone away with our new guitars and amps, having a drummer and with our talent.  I am for checking out Bobby and seeing if we can take that next step in becoming a band.”

Knowing full well that he would be put into the decision-making position, the Rockstar offered his choice.  “I have learned to live my young life by exploring opportunities and determining which ones will take me where I want to go.  It is kind of like keeping an open mind.  It has worked out for me in finding Sandie, getting into music in a way that caused me to love it even more and learning what it takes be a musician, thanks to you both.  I see Bobby as an unknown.  I liked him and he told us some things that spoke to me about his potential.  I need to see if his talk can be walked.  If it isn’t, we’ve just sacrificed a couple of hours of practice time and the trial dance will be the Trio.  Sandie, can you live with giving Bobby a tryout and seeing where it goes?”

With Sandie’s affirming nod, the Rockstar agreed to set up a tryout with Bobby the following Saturday afternoon in the studio.  He then asked if there was anything they needed to talk about regarding the dinner with Bobby after the Sears demonstration.  Both felt they liked the kid.  The Rockstar thanked Sandie for posing what he described as the brilliant lead-off question.  A great practice followed.

The back doorbell rang at the Rockstar’s home on the Saturday of the drummer tryout.  It was Bobby and his father along with an extensive drum kit.  After welcoming them warmly, the Rockstar indicated they would be playing in the basement.  The 3 of them carried the pieces of the kit down the stairs.  Figuring it would be best to have the Trio face Bobby so each could hear what was happening, Bobby and Mr. Evers set up the kit while the Rockstar positioned his amp at the other end of the small basement.  The doorbell rang again!  Mark arrived with his Mom.  They came carrying his two guitars and an amplifier!  “How did you pull off getting an amp?” queried the Rockstar.

“Long story! Help us get this stuff downstairs and set up,” panted the Lead Guitarist.  The Rockstar shook hands with Mrs. Horton and welcomed her to his home and to the practice.  He took the two guitars from her and led the Horton family downstairs.

Again the doorbell rang.  It was Sandie and Mr. Woods.  The Rockstar invited them both in, led them downstairs and introduced everyone.  Soon there was the sound of more folks coming downstairs.  Lulu burst into the now crowded room and made a b-line for Sandie.  The Rockstar introduced his Mom to the Evers and Mrs. Horton, Mark’s Mom.  “Looks like a great audience for this afternoon’s practice.  You are all most welcome to be a part of this.”  Lulu cheered and the Rockstar feigned a scowl.

After the audience found a place to sit, the musicians warmed up on their instruments.  When all seemed ready, the Rockstar explained the purpose of this special practice and the process they would follow.  He looked at Bobby and asked if he was okay with everything.

“Let’s start with a simple but great R & B song, ‘Mustang Sally’.  We will start our arrangement and Bobby, you fit in when you feel comfortable.”  The Rockstar started the count and on cue, Mark came in with his guitar run Intro and the Rockstar started the first verse using his pseudo gravelly voice.  Sandie and Mark came in on harmonies on the second “Ride, Sally, Ride”.  Very early in the song, Bobby jumped in with some tasteful drum fills.  This version of the song sounded pretty good.  The drums were good and the electric enhancement of the guitars made a big difference.  The Rockstar asked for thoughts to improve the arrangement.  Bobby had an idea he would like to try during the Intro.  Sandie felt the guitars were a little too loud and needed to be toned back a bit.  The Rockstar offered he should play a little more of a two-string baseline in the chord progression rather than chording.  Mark agreed and said he would pick up the chording when not playing riffs.  The audience offered only smiles of satisfaction and pride in their talented progeny.

“Okay, let’s try it again,” directed the Rockstar and started the count.  The second version was much better.  The changes gave a new sound and feel to the arrangement.Even the audience was more animated showing their enjoyment of the new version.  Comments ranged from ‘much better” to “I like the drum contributions” which came from Lulu.  Bobby reacted very positively and his father smiled proudly.

“We like doing folk music and would like to explore one now,” announced the Rockstar.  “Traditionally folk music does not include drums.  We are totally comfortable in doing our own arrangements.  Bobby, join in as you see fit and be creative with what you choose to add.  We will now try a unique version of a very old folk song, ‘The House of the Rising Sun.’”  Mark started the Intro of the 4-chord progression and Sandie started the first verse. 

The impact on this audience was the same as the community performance – stunned awe!  Even Bobby experienced the same reaction.  The Rockstar filled in with 2-string chords using the low E string as the foundation.  When the Extro fade from Mark’s chord sequence died, the Rockstar called for comments from the group.  Bobby quickly initiated by offering that it was the best version of that song he’d ever heard.  He was so enthralled with Sandie’s rich voice and range, he forgot to fill in with drums.  He needed some time to think about what he could do and wondered aloud if drums were in the record arrangement.  The Rockstar affirmed that they were but in a very subdued fashion and commented on what a difference Mark’s electric guitar made in providing a powerful backing and a great solo.  He then turned to Sandie and shook his head telling her how spectacular her solo was.  He acknowledged he was so distracted by her performance, he had trouble playing his chords during Mark’s Bridge.  Sandie smiled as did her father.  Her biggest fan, Lulu, held back a flood of tears.  No further comments were needed from the audience.

“Let’s give Sandra a break,” offered the Rockstar, using the name her family used.  “Let’s see what we boys can do with ‘Walk Don’t Run’ by the Ventures.  Bobby, could you do the drum Intro?  On your count Bobby.”  Bobby executed the Intro perfectly.  The Rockstar played the opening chord sequence twice.On cue Mark opened up on his new electric guitar and played the most stunning rendition of the lead licks of this upbeat, classic song.  At mid-point, Bobby hit the drum Intro perfectly as did the Rockstar on the chord sequence.  Mark played the melody through for a second time and ended the tune cleanly by using the tremolo arm on his new ‘axe’. 

Almost immediately, the Rockstar started the chord sequence for the next song.  “Join in Bobby!” which he did.  Mark, on cue, picked up the lead on ‘Torquay’ by the Fireballs.  When the repeat of the melody rolled around, the Rockstar and Bobby were tight.  Mark finished the second half of the song with a lead licks that were radically different from the original version and caused the audience to experience awe but again.  This time the little audience clapped and cheered as the song ended.The Rockstar looked at his fellow musicians and held up his thumb signaling his pleasure.  “Mom, we really need a break!  Do we have some sodas for the musicians and tea for the parents?  Lulu, could you help?”  With that he put down his guitar, stood up and prepared to receive the hug Sandie was about to lay on him.  He felt a genuine burst of pride when she whispered in his ear how multi-talented he was.

After a few minutes of mingling, where the parents had a chance to affirm their musical progeny and to get to know each other, the adults were called upstairs to enjoy coffee and tea.  Lulu brought a tray of sodas downstairs for the teens.  She offered Sandie her choice first and had to be “shooed” upstairs so the musicians could talk.

The Rockstar sat sipping his soda and looking at Bobby,  He asked Bobby how he was doing.  Explaining further, “I have been very hard on you up until now.  There is a reason.  My music partners had no idea what would happen today.  We needed to know what you would do under the pressure of performing.  Talk to us.”

Bobby, looking a tad uneasy, offered the following: “You 3 are very talented and really know what you’re doing.  I’ve confidence in you based on what I saw at Sears and our chat over dinner.  What I have seen today, gives me cause to trust you all.  I know you will make the right decision about me drumming with you and I will be good with whatever you decide.”

“Thanks Bobby,” replied the Rockstar.  “After the break, I thought we should have the try-out focus on you and what you want us to see about your drumming.  Maybe you’d like to do a drum solo for us.  If you have a few tunes you’d like to play and they are on our current set list, we will play them with you.  If you have a tune you want to play, Mark and Sandie know way more pieces than do I and maybe they could join you. I am really happy just to listen and learn. What would you like to do?”

“I’d really like to show what I can do on the drums first to make sure I don’t miss anything,” replied Bobby.  “Then let’s the 4 of us play a few tunes together.”  Footsteps on the stairs indicated the parents and Lulu were returning.

The parents entered the studio together and paused before coming in all the way.  Mr. Woods cleared his throat indicating he wanted to speak.Everyone waited respectfully until he started.  “We parents have been talking about you kids.  We want to say how proud each and every one of us is of you.  You are amazing musicians and have a talent level that surprised us all.  You have worked very hard and it shows in your music.  We want to help you in any way we can.  We know you’re at a bit of a crossroads in your music future and we know you will make good choices like you have so far.  This studio is a great place and seems to work for you.  We parents would like to help you expand the room a bit and see if we can make it a little more comfortable for you.  We have some offers we’ll make to you later.  You need to get on with the try-out without us.  Some of us will come back at 4:30 pm to pick up equipment.  Here is $30.00 for you to go out after practice to have some supper and some well-deserved fun.  I understand the Golden Palace up on 16th avenue is a great new Chinese restaurant.”  With that, all but Lulu, smiled knowingly and went back upstairs.  Lulu remained glued to Sandie!

“Okay,” started the Rockstar.  “Bobby show us your licks!”  The Trio was then treated to a clinic in drum fills and beats.  Bobby went through his entire drum kit in a series of drum rolls that highlighted each and every piece of equipment he brought.  The transitions were excellent and all drums and cymbals were fit in to a steady beat on the bass drum [kick].  For ten minutes they sat enthralled.  When he finished, all members of the Trio stood and applauded.  Lulu just sat there with a look of surprise on her face that spoke to her enjoyment.  “Wow!” opened the Rockstar.  The looks on Sandie’s and Mark’s faces also said it all. 

With that, the Rockstar and Mark picked up their guitars, turned on their amps and strummed a couple of E-chords.  “Do you know ‘Honky Tonk’ Bobby?” posed Mark.  His big smile resulted in the Rockstar playing the Intro run with Mark taking the lead on the melody after one cycle of the 3-note/chord progression.  Bobby joined in with a neat drum rudiment.  On cue, he did an appropriate drum solo right after Mark cued him after the second of the guitar solos.  The Rockstar played the 3-note/chord progression throughout the entire tune.  Sandie sat with her arm around Lulu just enjoying the entertainment.  A quick debrief at Honky Tonk’s end resulted in the observation that a better arrangement could be worked out.

Sandie suggested that the group try ‘Poor Little Fool’ made popular by Rick Nelson.  Bobby said he knew that song and would like to give it a try.  Sandie stood by the Rockstar and counted in the song.  On cue, Mark chorded the Intro while the Rockstar played the chord sequence on a single string somewhat emulating a bass guitar.  Sandie surprised the assemblage by changing the lyrics from “he” to “she”.  It personalized the song and she looked at the Rockstar the whole time with a devilish smile on her face.  Lulu missed none of this and giggled through the whole song.  Mark and the Rockstar sang the chorus harmony and finished with the harmony line as the Extro.  Everyone laughed at the end.

Sandie proposed, “I am curious about what you would do on drums in a folk song that has no drums.  Have you heard Gordon Lightfoot’s ‘I’m Not Saying’?  It is a favourite of mine.  We will play it for you acoustically so you can figure out what kind of drum treatment you might offer.”  When Bobby indicated he would like to hear it first, Sandie started the count.  The Trio did their version of this powerful tune just as they had performed it previously on several occasions.  Bobby’s comment at the song’s conclusion was to leave as it is because drums would take away the power of the song.  Sandie was pleased!

To finish off the try-out, Bobby suggested a Beatles song since they were dominating the air waves currently.  “Can we do ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’?”  The song was performed well but not with the usual result.  Bobby performed a drum accompaniment that showed great talent and potential.  At song’s end all lauded the uniqueness of the song elements but neither Sandie or the Rockstar liked the nasality of their version.  There was complete agreement that this song needed an arrangement that was more in keeping with the Trio’s vocal style.  This plan brought the try-out to an end.

Before packing their equipment up for transport by the parents, the Rockstar offered a few closing remarks on what had transpired.  He thanked Bobby for agreeing to today’s adventure.  He congratulated him on his willingness to take on today’s significant challenges and on his talent and skill playing drums.  Sandie, Mark and even Lulu supported that comment by thumbs and affirming nods.  It was explained to Bobby that the Trio needed to talk about what happened today and the result.  The Rockstar promised Bobby he would be back to him in a few days.  This signaled that it was time to take care of their equipment and then go out for Chinese food, thanks to their proud parents.

The decision to have Bobby join the Trio was made at a meeting the next day at the studio.  The Rockstar initially let Sandie and Mark express their views of the try-out and Bobby’s performance as a drummer.  Both thought he was a talented young guy and fit in nicely with what the group was currently doing.  The real issue of the type of band that was being formed swirled just below the surface.Sandie had not changed her position about wanting to stay focused on folk music with some measured forays into pop.  Mark on the other side of the music coin was all for pursuing rock with occasional delving into pop music  or folk as was needed.  Mark also revealed his passion for instrumental rock due to his love of the many guitar bands of the early sixties.  His argument was based on the common knowledge that the bands that were making money were the rock bands.  Folk groups were not the consistent big money makers in the current record markets.  The Rockstar realized he was right in the middle of entrenched opposing music views and the final decision would have to be made by him.  After listening to the debate between Sandie and Mark for several minutes, he knew whatever decision made would be divisive.  He paused for a few moments and then offered his perspective.

The Rockstar started by reminding his music mates that the real decision point about music direction was really best made after the trial dance at the Rosedale community hall in April.  It was at that point all 3 of them would be charting their futures for their final year in secondary school and where they aspired to go musically from that point.  Included in that would likely be their potential futures in music.  The Rockstar stated he felt the need to optimize the opportunity provided by the dance.  As a result, he felt Bobby should be the beneficiary of that opportunity also.  He believed that their best should be given to the dance as it had the potential to be a defining moment in their young lives.  As a result, an invitation should be extended to have Bobby start practicing with the band right away.  All agreed albeit with different degrees of enthusiasm.  The Rockstar knew he had a greater challenge in his emerging role in the music group.

The practices over the next few weeks went very well.  Much time was spent on developing the folk songs for the set list.  Sandie was very positively engaged as her favourite genre of music was getting huge attention.  The criteria for song selection showed a genuine focus on Sandie’s talent and whether the piece chosen was danceable.  Bobby quickly figured it out to not push for intrusive drums in folk songs.  One exception was the new band’s version of the ‘Lion Sleeps Tonight’.  Progress was made on rounding out the set list with danceable rock tunes. 

The parents fulfilled their promise to do some work on the studio.  An old closet was removed that added much to the studio space.  The Rockstar had a wardrobe added adjacent to the door of his bedroom in the basement.  Temporary doors were added to the storage space under the stairs which added to the attractiveness to the room.  The furnace had walls installed around it which added a little more useable space and made the studio quieter.  New wiring was added along the wall where the amps could be plugged in thus eliminating many lengthy and unsightly extension cords.  Some newer used furniture was added making it more comfortable for the musicians and those dropping by to watch practices.  The parents were glad to do this for their teens and the musicians were ecstatic with their newer studio.

Sandie and the Rockstar’s relationship blossomed with the time they had together beyond music.  They seemed to have found life beyond music and it had turned out to be equally as fun.  The Rockstar arranged a folk and fire event the weekend following the trial dance as he had promised Sandie.  Their folk set list was now very extensive through practicing songs at Sandie’s place, something they both really wanted to continue.

The night of the trial dance arrived and was accompanied by an incredible surge of excitement.  The Trio was now a yet to be named band.  Sandie’s father offered to drive her, the Rockstar and his growing array of musical instruments to the community hall.  Mr. Woods had also volunteered to be a duty parent or chaperone as he had not had that experience as yet.  The plan for all band members was to arrive at the hall early in order to set.  Well before the first teen dancers arrived, the band brought in a lot of equipment.  Bobby’s full drum kit caused he and Mr. Evers to climb the stairs to the upper floor of the hall many times.  The sound check was complete a good 30 minutes prior to the scheduled start time of the dance.  The band took a few minutes to review some details of the set list and how to support each other on this significant night in their young musical lives.  The Rockstar took this opportunity to comment on the great work that all of them had done over the past several weeks and to remind them this was the best time to just have fun doing what they all love – playing and singing music!

The doors opened on the dot of 7:00 pm and a cacophony of happy noise could be heard as a large throng of teens ascended the stairs.  Members of the Rosedale Teen Council greeted the teens as they entered the upper hall.  The Rockstar’s close friend, Dave Smeal who was elected president of the Council, had also been delegated by Mr. Kennedy to emcee the dance’s opening welcome and introduce the band.

By 7:10 pm the upper hall was full of jovial teens who were ready to dance.  Dave introduced the band who immediately broke into their first cover, ‘Torquay’ by the Fireballs.  Immediately, the enthusiastic dancers got the evening underway.  The new electric guitars filled the hall with the rich sound of amplified music.  More teens who were standing or sitting around the edge of the hall joined the keen jivers.  In order to capitalize on the momentum generated, the band, again with no introduction of the song, broke into ‘Mustang Sally’.  The beat of this song brought even more out on the dance area in the center of the hall.  The energy of the dancers seemed to touch the soul of the Rockstar and exponentially increased his efforts in projecting and emphasizing the lyrics of the song.  Sandie and Mark’s harmony also charged the escalating synergy between the band and the dancers.  Even Bobby felt the surge that impacted the power of his drumming.  At the end of the song, the crowd broke into loud applause and cheers of appreciation.

The Rockstar noted it was time to scale it back.  He signaled Sandie to introduce the ‘House of the Rising Sun’.  She too sensed the need and used her introduction to acknowledge the energy.  Her introduction captured interest and then total engagement when Mark played the very recognizable introductory chord sequence.  Then the rich voice and incredible talent of Sandie took over with her rendition of the very old folk song made famous by the Animals.  Many partners slow danced while most stood in awe and let the Sandie’s voice wash over them.  The energy looked different but the crowd’s response was much the same.  At her song’s end, Sandie got a tumultuous ovation from the appreciative teens.  This affirmation took her somewhat by surprise.

The energy of the music and the crowd, which had swelled to the capacity of the hall had steadily grown.  The balance of the songs in the first set went really well and the band felt it was time for the break.  The interplay between the crowd and the band’s energy made for an experience that never before been felt by the Rockstar or his bandmates.  By the break, they were physically drained but flying high emotionally. 

During the second half of the trial dance, Mark’s work on lead guitar and Bobby’s fabulous drumming caught the ear of many appreciative teens.In addition, the band offered their best harmonies of the evening emulating those of the Beach Boys on their ‘Surfer Girl’ slow dance number particularly to the satisfaction of the girls.  For the guys it was a great clutch and grab opportunity that did not get beyond the watchful eyes of the parents who were monitoring the dance.  Sandie brought the show to a close with her altered lyrics of Rick Nelson’s ‘Poor Little Fool’.  There was a slight twitter from the dance floor as some of Sandie’s girlfriends had been cued to listen to the lyrics and their implication for the Rockstar.  It went right over the head of all the boys!  There was a genuine sadness when Dave had to announce that the dance was over.  All left the dance floor in a very happy state.

It took a while to shut down the community hall after the trial dance.  This afforded the band to take a break and talk about their performance.  The Rockstar commented on the feeling he experienced for the very first time – the power of a performance.  “I felt that our performance caused tonight’s audience to have a great time!  They had an amazing experience because of us.  We actually made a difference in their lives for a few brief hours. I felt we were responsible in part.”  The Rockstar’s bandmates looked at him like he was weird.

Regardless, the group of weary performers were feeling great about the dance.  They knew in their hearts their music was stellar as evidenced by the reaction of teens throughout the entire evening.  Everyone felt really good!  Their perspective was confirmed when Dave and Mr. Kennedy joined the band to share the outcomes of the dance.  Numbers tracked at the door indicated they had reached the capacity of the hall of 150 kids by 8:00 pm.  Ticket revenue was much higher than expected as few used their community memberships as a free pass.  Many teens from West Hillhurst had attended as determined by the staff manning the door.  The tuck shop on the main floor had their best night of sales ever experienced.  There were no unruly behavior problems and the general tone among the teens was appreciation of the provision of this opportunity.  A significant number of teens made a point of telling adults how great the band was and what a fun time they had.  Mr. Kennedy indicated that he would be in touch with the Rockstar informing him of the decisions resulting from this trial dance by the Board after their next meeting.  Both Dave and Mr. Kennedy congratulated the band on their performance and thanked them for the obvious hard work they had put into the preparation of the music for the dance.  It was a positive way to end the evening.

Mr. Woods helped pack up the band’s equipment and drove the Rockstar to his home.  While Sandie and the Rockstar carried his equipment to the basement, his Mom invited them to stay for coffee and baked treats.  All agreed.  The Rockstar returned his guitars and amp to their position in the basement with Sandie’s assistance.  It was obvious Sandie wanted to talk before they went upstairs to join the adults.  The conversation began with a lengthy and unmistakably passionate kiss.  Sandie followed it up with noting that while she enjoyed performing at the dance, she felt that folk music was not getting the time on the set list it should.  The Rockstar suggested maybe the band should talk about it as a whole group when they met to deal with the community board decision.  He reminded Sandie that he and she would be attending the teen fire and singalong at the community hall in a week and that they could make a special effort to have all new material to offer.  Sandie suddenly became more excited and asked the Rockstar to not include Mark in this event.  She wanted it to be just the two of them like it used to be.  Somewhat puzzled by this, the Rockstar agreed.  Sandie showed her appreciation by initiating one final long and passionate kiss.

The Rockstar woke up late the next morning as a result of the huge effort that had gone into the trial dance the previous night.. When he went upstairs for breakfast, his Mom passed on a message from an earlier phone call from Sandie to give her a call as soon as he could.  She also asked him how it was going with Sandie.  The Rockstar indicated that sometimes he wasn’t always sure.  He told his Mom he had strong feelings for Sandie as did she for him but sometimes they seemed conditional.  It was as if her feelings were used to get what she wanted.  The Rockstar also revealed that there was tension emerging between Sandie and Mark over the type of music the band should be playing.  Sometimes the Rockstar felt he was being maneuvered to make right choices.  His Mom, with her seemingly infinite wisdom, offered that people seek to get what they want and their actions depend on how strongly they want what they are seeking.  Truly understanding a person’s wants will help guide what you should do.  Intuitively the Rockstar knew his Mom had provided him with another principle in his young life’s practice.

The Rockstar phoned Sandie as requested.  Sandie was genuinely excited to talk to him.  She invited he and his family to her house for dinner that evening.  She further suggested that he come over in the late afternoon so they could plan their set list for the upcoming fire/singalong.  A quick consult with his Mom resulted in a gracious acceptance of the Woods family offer.  The Rockstar pondered his Mom’s advice during the balance of his busy afternoon of delivering for Baileys Pharmacy and doing a couple of yard clean-ups.

The Rockstar arrived at Sandie’s house to a genuinely warm welcome from her and a positive greeting from her parents.  Mr. Woods made a special point of again telling the Rockstar and Sandie what an amazing performance they had given at the teen dance the previous evening.  Mrs. Woods stated she would be a volunteer at the next teen dance.  Sandie took the Rockstar’s hand and led him to her bedroom.  Before he could even put his acoustic guitar down, he was given a warm embrace even with the door open!  He began to feel something was different.

The work on the set list went very well.  Both the Rockstar and Sandie got into the work quickly when he asked what she envisioned for their performance.  Sandie indicated she wanted them to do 4 songs they had never performed before.  She wanted their finale to be “their song”, the Lightfoot tune they done before.  Her thought was to do at least one folk tune with both of them sharing the lead singing.  The other songs would make use of his harmony skills.  Sandie’s vision was very clear and revealing.

The Rockstar and Sandie developed their set list for the fire/singalong.  It clearly reflected what Sandie was seeking.  This was to be a Sandie show.  It was also likely the last show that would focus on folk music and she planned on going out on a high.  She seemed intent on sending out a final message.  They now turned to develop arrangements for her songs and rehearse them.  They decided they could work on them a couple of evenings the following week.  Fortuitously, the doorbell rang announcing the arrival of the Rockstar’s family.

Sandie ran to the door to welcome her guests.  As she opened the door, Lulu burst in and threw her arms around her current very best friend.  Nonplussed by the gregarious greeting, Sandie warmly welcomed the Rockstar’s Mom.  Mr. and Mrs. Woods joined the greeting.  Pleasantries were exchanged and the families moved into the living room.  The Rockstar’s Mom graciously thanked the Woods for their kind invitation.

Over dinner, the purpose of this impromptu gathering of the two families became a little clearer.  Mr. Woods took the first opportunity at a break in the social chitchat to announce to the gathering how proud he was of Sandra and the Rockstar.  As an adult worker/chaperone at the trial dance, he saw the outcome of the time and effort the teens had been putting into their music.  The distance between practice and performance was huge in his estimation.  He wanted to acknowledge that reality.  He finished his eloquent affirmation with the fact that he was honoured to be able to witness this growth and what a difference the music adventure was making in the life of his daughter. 

More of the purpose was revealed over dessert.  As would any diligent father, Mr. Woods raised the topic of the teens plans for the future.  Recognizing the two teens were going into their final year of high school, he wondered if there were any thoughts for the last year and even beyond.  Looking straight at the Rockstar, he asked about his thoughts for next year.  The Rockstar paused for a moment, and then shared his thinking.  He started by saying he and his bandmates had talked about their future.  They were aware that currently, music was affording them some incredible opportunities of which they needed to be cognizant.  They all knew that having a successful academic year in Grade 12 was a key in their future plans.  Some form of post-secondary education was a value they each band member possessed while music was, as yet, an unknown in their planning.  The Rockstar’s Mom beamed as a result of his commentary.  Sandie’s face showed great relief.

The evening ended with Lulu, Sandie and the Rockstar playing board games on the kitchen table while the parents chatted in the living room.  The walk home for the Rockstar and his family was devoid of any heavier talk and was dominated by Lulu’s incessant chatter about Sandie.  The Rockstar’s Moms only comment was, “You did good, son!”

The practices leading up to the fire/singalong at the community hall went well.  There was no talk between Sandie and the Rockstar about dinner at her place.  Both felt it was best to just leave it as an opportunity to further understand parents.  The arrangements for the new folk songs came together amazingly well.  There was little anxiety of the event that got in the way of having fun.  The Rockstar totally understood how important this event was to Sandie and he was committed to do everything he could to enable it to fulfill her expectations.  The walk to the hall that evening was light and jovial with both laughing often.  Only the tightness of the hand holding indicated any modicum of tension prior to the performance.

A rather large fire was burning in the firepit at the community hall when the Rockstar and Sandie arrived.  Mr. Kennedy and Dave Smeal seemed to be anticipating a fairly sizeable crowd for the singalong.  A few participants had arrived early and were sitting around the fire.  The sun had not set as yet so it was easy to see that those who had arrived were mostly friends of Sandie and the Rockstar.  The Duo found a good place to sit and the Rockstar checked the state of being ‘in tune’ of his acoustic guitar. 

At the appointed start time, Dave welcomed everyone made the necessary introductions.  Sandie got the singing started by announcing the first old favourite to be sung – ‘Blowing in the Wind’.  Many of the assembled teens joined in on the chorus.  The group size increased when 3 more teens arrived.  Sandie introduced ‘You Were On My Mind’ written by Sylvia Fricker of Ian and Sylvia fame.  The audience singing was notably weaker as it was a difficult song.  Sandie’s disappointment could be felt by the Rockstar as now their bodies were touching due to the creeping insecurity.  The Rockstar whispered in Sandie’s ear, “Let’s do the set list we worked on right now.”  Sandie nodded yes out of a bit of desperation in not knowing what to do.

After taking a deep breath, Sandie told the audience that she and the Rockstar had prepared some new songs they would like to share with them.  The audience was invited to join in if they so wished but were also welcome to just sit back, enjoy the fire and the music.  With that, Sandie introduced the first song on the set list was a song by Gale Garnett, ‘We’ll Sing in the Sunshine’.  The Rockstar played the introductory chords and on cue, Sandie began to sing like an angel.The audience became transfixed as was always the case when Sandie sang her solos. 

The next tune Sandie introduced was the duo’s rendition of the very popular tune by the Momma’s and Poppa’s, ‘Monday, Monday’.  It was a complex vocal arrangement but the duo pulled it off!

Sandie introduced the third song as one written and performed by Canadians Ian and Sylvia.  She added that ‘Four Strong Winds’ was written by Ian and is a sad story of a failing relationship.The Rockstar toned back the harmony so Sandie’s magnificent voice would carry the tune.  Sandie sang each verse solo.  Surprisingly, a few of the audience joined the duo on the choruses. 

Sandie introduced the fourth song in the set as a powerful message song offering a perspective that all should heed.  She asked them to listen for the message Simon and Garfunkel were trying to communicate in their wonderful song ‘The Sound of Silence’.  The audience listened in silence as Sandie sang the song solo with just the acoustic guitar accompaniment of the Rockstar.  The brilliant but enigmatic message of the song percolated through the minds of all and for a notable length of time there was just the crackle of the fire dying in the pit.  Then a spontaneous applause erupted from all including the Rockstar. 

Sandie brushed a small tear from her eye, smiled and introduced her final song.  Sandie indicated the duo had done this song once before and it was very special to her.  She dedicated the Gordon Lightfoot tune they were about to hear to her partner in music and life – the Rockstar!  With trepidation, the Rockstar started the new Intro he had prepared for tonight’s performance noting Sandie had placed her hand on his thigh.  Right on cue Sandie sang her best rendition of ‘I’m Not Saying’.  Somehow the Rockstar got a premonition that this was likely the last time he would hear Sandie sing this song.  He strummed it to the very best of his ability.  At the song’s end the appreciative teen audience gave Sandie the recognition she so rightly deserved.  It ended the fire/singalong on a real high.

After the crowd of teens parted the firepit area, the Rockstar felt a vibe from Sandie that was unlike any he had experienced before.  It was a deep sadness in her that he knew he had to address.  He suggested that they go to the basement studio and talk.  He let her know his Mom and Lulu were visiting the grandparents and would not be home until much later so they would have the peace Sandie seemed to need.  The short walk to his home was very quiet as if both were pondering something really important in their young lives.

Upon entering the studio, Sandie shed her coat and parked herself on the couch while the Rockstar put away his guitar.  He could feel her eyes glued to him as he tidied up the studio before joining Sandie on the couch.  “What’s wrong Sandie?” he asked.  “You were great tonight and should be feeling really good about your performance.”  Tears welled up in her eyes.

“It wasn’t what I had hoped for”, she sobbed.  “Hardly anybody came.  A week ago we had a full dance floor for our performance and tonight there were so few.  What did I do wrong?”  Her sobbing escalated.  The Rockstar felt her pain and knew he was facing a challenge he had not encountered before.  He took his typical pause to reflect, moved down the couch to be close to her, took her hands and spoke.

“Sandie, I feel your pain  and disappointment.  You gave it a great shot!  The result tonight was not your fault in any way.  It was an unfortunate result of a number of circumstances way beyond your control.  Firstly, it was way too soon after the dance.  Sadly, it was the only time Mr. Kennedy could get the firepit area when no one else was using the hall.  The spring sport’s schedule has started and other evening had other groups around. He and I felt it would be better without a bunch of people on the grounds and going in and out of the building.  Secondly, the event was not well advertised.  Dave and the Teen Council did their best but the timeline was short.  No other communities were invited as this was an event where no one knew how to manage a large crowd around a fire.  Fire/singalongs are more of a passive event and the limited participation possibilities are not where teens are coming from in the spring when there are lots of things to do.  This event was done as a favour to you and me as no more were planned until at least the fall program has been framed.  The people who came tonight were your friends and fans.  In many ways it is the very best kind of audience you could want.  This wasn’t about numbers.  It was about heart.  And you captured their hearts but again tonight.  You also captured more of mine,” the Rockstar offered in conclusion as he looked deep into Sandie’s eyes.

Without a word, Sandie leaned forward and gently kissed the Rockstar in a way that she had not done before.  She pulled back and mouthed the word thank you and removed the smoky fleece she was wearing and threw it on the arm of couch.  Wearing now just a flimsy halter top that showed most of her ample bosom, Sandie took the Rockstar’s hand and said demurely, “Show me your bedroom!”  Suddenly the Rockstar got caught up in another defining moment.

Sandie took the Rockstar by the hand and led him from the studio to where his bedroom was located in the basement.  She opened the door and stood in the room while the Rockstar turned on his desk lamp and the small bedside light on the night table beside his single bed.  Sandie did a quick survey of the room as she had never been in there before.  She then turned to face the compliant teenage Rockstar.  “Take off your shirt!  I want you to feel my breasts on your chest when I kiss you!” she commanded.  With her assistance he began to hurriedly unbutton the shirt.  Suddenly Sandie took her halter off and the Rockstar gasped at the sight.  Sandie grabbed him and began a long and passionate kiss.  The Rockstar could feel her tongue trying to work into his mouth.  Their groins were pressed tightly together and their passion rose.  Sandie reached down and began to unbuckle the Rockstar’s belt and open the top of his pants.  He had his hands on her breasts and felt her nipples get hard.  When she began to lower his fly, the Rockstar could feel panic supplant passion.  “Sandie, I don’t have any protection!”  With a look of determination, she reached into the back pocket of her jeans and produced a packet of condoms.  Knowing they were both at the point of no return sexually, the Rockstar gasped “Sandie, wait!  We have to stop this now before we both regret it!” 

She stepped back and said, “I thought you love me?”

“I do,” he said.  “That is why we must stop now!  We’re only 16 going on 17 years old.  Our love is too young and beautiful to make it about sex.  We both want more than just the satisfaction of lust right now.  Don’t we want it to be real love that is based on a life’s commitment to each other?  We need to listen to our hearts not just our hormones.  Please let’s not risk that future!”

Sandie picked up her halter top and put it on.  “I have to go home now.” she uttered with rancor.  “I am leaving the band also.  Nobody likes folk music and I hate rock and roll.  Mark finally will get his way with me not around anymore.”

The Rockstar quickly put on his shirt and did up his pants.  “I’ll walk you home.”

“Never mind!” growled Sandie.  “I don’t need you to take care of me or lecture me anymore.”  He walked her home anyway, albeit 10 metres behind her.

 


Submitted: March 11, 2021

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