So, I would say I'm a singer. For a long time, actually. I don't get to do it very often, because 1.) I really don't like most musical theatre and 2.) I don't know how to read music. But I've gotten to the point where I can actually admit that I sing, pretty competently. And I've even done it on stage sometimes. For audiences. I'm also trained. I've taken voice lessons with multiple teachers in the past. I've sung in choirs, and even been in a musical or two, despite the hairy eyeball I cast upon the genre.
Back last fall, when I first signed up for Ladies' Rock Camp on the recommendation of my friend and frequent collaborator Machelle Allman, and was filling out the application, I waffled back and forth between being a drummer or a vocalist. I've wanted to learn drums ever since doing a super female-focused and punk RAWK version of Cowboy Mouth (written, as legend would have it, by Sam Shepherd and Patti Smith, yes, THE PATTI SMITH, while shacking up together at the Chelsea Hotel, passing a manual typewriter back and forth between them) with the most AWESOME thrash band out of Olympia (Tight Bros From Way Back When). At every performance, the drummer would break several drumsticks, and after the show, I would quietly collect the remnants and I still have them today on my little artist altar. Anyway - I decided to be a vocalist, because I felt like doing the camp would be pretty out of my comfort zone as it was, since I don't feel like I am necessarily the most dynamic performer when I am the one who is supposed to be leading the charge.
The Monday night before camp, I felt the first little tickle in my throat, which just got progressively worse and worse throughout the week, and when time came for camp on Friday morning, the plague had progressed...not sure if it was a mild flu or a bad cold, but I still felt like crap as I entered the Vera Project's doors, uncertain as to whether I should even proceed. I mean: VOCALS? With a CHEST COLD??? Awesome. Having just gotten laid off and not really being in a position where I can just kiss off the something-hundred dollars I'd paid to be part of the camp, I decided, somewhat reluctantly, to persevere.
Despite many years of stage performances under my belt, I'm more of an introvert than an extrovert. I'm better one-on-one than in groups, especially LARGE groups with lots of people I don't know. So as I entered the big room with all the ladies, and saw many of them sitting already in groups together at tables laughing and talking, I felt shy and intimidated, and went over to sit on one of the couches by myself, reasoning to myself that I was quarantining everyone from my germs. Presently, one, then another of these ladies came over and sat by me, and we struck up a little conversation, and it was nice not to feel totally on the outside. Rachel and Eva, I thank you for that little act of solidarity.
Eventually, we got herded off to our Instrument Instruction groups, which put me with all the other vocalists. As we went around the circle, there were a couple campers that sounded absolutely terrified either to come up with a song, or to sing in front of people, and tears came up. It was such an honor and a privilege to be in that room and slowly feel the terror shift energetically into something different: a willingness, maybe? An anticipation? Led by Kira and Stephanie, who let all our fears and preconceptions about ourselves and each other air out and transform into support and inspiration.
A little later on, we got placed into our bands. As I got my first glimpse at the women I'd be creating and playing with in that main room, I felt a little uncertain. The four of us are supposed to write a song together? We're strangers. WE can't possibly have ANYTHING in common. I didn't say that, though. I still felt like crap, so I was conserving my energy. No superfluous talk, movement or thought. I think this ended up serving me well.
And then, of course, the magical Sue Ennis came to gave us our songwriting seminar, as we sat with our newly-formed bands in the main room. I kept looking over at that mural of what I kept thinking of as "Icharus".
OUR BAND: Barb, on guitar. Libby, on bass. Amber, on drums. Me, vocals. And our two coaches, Maggie and Darcey.
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Day to day thoughts, rants and mental detritus.