Saturday, March 16, 2013

Happy Early Wedding Present, Nick and Leah!!

 I’ve written before about Bang Camaro.  It's a 20-man revival metal band that my three sons were in. They'd done international tours, performed on late night talk shows including Conan and Jimmy Kimmel, hosted the Boston Music Awards with Steven Tyler, etc. You remember the story.
   Well, recently, a 1995 photo of my oldest son’s first band – Kokrocket :( -- came to my attention.
   I was sorting through several mouldering boxes of precious memories and there it was! (By the way, I have Computer Envy for tech-savvy families whose basements harbor computer towers holding millions of digital memories captive – instead of mildewing corrugated boxes of the real thing.  LUCKEEEEE.)
Kokrocket -- 1995
   Anyway, on the same day I found the photo of my firstborn child’s first band, I received a gorgeous memento copy of his wedding invitation! I tell you, there are no coincidences.
   Because also loitering in my spore-riddled box was a pile of newspaper clippings of my previously published work.
   Before I preserved our wedding invitation by adding it to the Precious Memories Box, I pulled out and re-read a little faux-review I’d written of this same child’s band's first performance. I have decided to reprint it here.  
And why not? I’ve posted nothing on this blog since Saint Valentine’s Day, causing folks to wonder if I’ve gone off the deep end or if my husband -- our favorite super-hero from Myeloma Land -- was experiencing technical difficulties.
   For many reasons, it is time to share Kokrocket's special journey.
   By the way, regarding my 'deep end,' I do periodically wade into it, but I keep a stash of swimmies on hand (invented by Ben Franklin, although I don’t use his originals). And in Myeloma Land, those disordered blood-plasma technical difficulties are very slowly being held in check. We are hoping to wrangle more solid control before this exciting June wedding and it seems we’re headed in that direction now.  Thank heaven.
   Also, dang-it-all if tomorrow isn’t another religious holiday where I feel obliged -- as a Christian -- to celebrate with a post. So, in honor of our first-born's pending nuptials plus Hallowed Saint Patrick and the Blessed Alcoholism Sunday will bring, I give to you, now, my 1995 review of KOKROCKET. Amen.

 New Band KOKROCKET Rocks Local Octoberfest

Music Joke
Question:  How do you get two 15 year old guitar players to tune up?
Answer:  Shoot one.

   There I was, embracing week number three of another school year, when my son Nicholas announced that his grunge band voted to hold practice … in the basement of my home.

“But I... I don’t understand,” I stammered as amplifying devices and a drum set larger than Utah were being jimmied through a basement window.  “I thought your drummer was happy holding practice at his house.”

“Oh.  That’s changed,” sniffed my ex-son, Nick.

“I see.  Well, how long will the band be practicing HERE?”

   My son sat me down on a drum pad on the back stoop to explain.  “Mom. Maybe you didn’t hear me. The band voted to practice here.”

“I heard, but—“

“L I S T E N.  They CHOSE you.  You,  Mother. See, we coulda practiced at TJ’s or G’s.  But you... –”  my son placed his hand on my shoulder, “You were the mother they wanted.  They think – let me rephrase this:  We ALL think … you’re cool.  You have rhythmn, a great musical ear—“

“And Mrs. G.  You’re not hard to look at,” winked the rhythm player.

“Puh-LEEZE,” I blushed.

“Hot, man,” said the lead guitarist.

“Gorgeous.  She’s gorgeous,” smiled the drummer, heaving a bass drum past my nose.

“Can I get you boys some iced tea?  This is pretty heavy stuff you’re moving.”

   It took the afternoon for them to set up and they were far stronger and more resourceful than I imagined, having pushed a washer, dryer and oil burning furnace from their jamming space.  By dinner time, I was setting the table to a driving bass riff that shook dead leaves off a potted fig and rendered the family cat sterile.
   This is how I became a famous grunge Mom.
   There’s much to be said for the music industry.  None of it printable. Suffice to say, teen bands are responsible for the wave of parental drug abuse sweeping our nation. My personal drug of choice is industrial strength Mylanta which I bought the day the band landed their first gig.

“Dude!” Nick shouted to me. “We’re the final act – at OCTOBERFEST!”  The band members hovered excitedly behind him.

“You mean –” I swallowed, “you’re going to… perform?”

“We RULE.”  The band slapped a cohesive high-five.

“Octoberfest?” I repeated. “The annual event held on the congregational church lawn? The one everyone goes to?  Our neighbors.  Ministers.  Your grandmother?”

“The very same,” beamed my child.

“But Octoberfest is only eight days away!” I called out as the band repaired to the basement.

“THAT’S why we’re gonna go jam.”  They were gone.

   For seven days and seven nights, I hummed along as they played Collective Soul, Better Than Ezra, and Therapy, which now I am in. More importantly, I was in Kokrocket’s presence the day they completed an original composition entitled, “Marcus” – the finale they wrote to close out their set.  It’s an inspiring ballad about a tragic youth who overcomes physical disability:

MARCUS, by Kokrocket

There once was a boy named Marcus
He had to sit down to piss--
With just a wee puppy to play with
He had but only one wish:



   The complete lyrics had been hastily transcribed in my college Logic notebook where I discovered them one night in class.  So, I could share other verses more moving, but the band wants their public to purchase a Kokrocket album – once they record it.  After they get more equipment.  Like a microphone.  And guitars.  I’m getting ahead of the story.  Let us return to the morning of their Big Performance.
    They’d just finished tuning their axes upon which they were making distorted ‘wammy’ noise when I crept toward the basement to listen.  But when I entered their space, they stopped playing.  And glowered.

“What?” I said.
“Mom,” Nick said soberly.
“What? It’s my house. I can watch.”
“We got a lotta work to do. We don’t let Abigail or Zach watch.  Why should we let YOU?”
“Because I have cigarettes.”
“Your Mom’s killer. Hey, Ms. G. Got any twenties?”
--laughter –
“Try me Thursday, G.”
--more laughter –
“Okay! Butt break! What you smokin Ms. G?”
“Well, I used to smoke Virginia Slim Super Ultra Light Menthol One Hundreds.”
--peals of hysterical laughter… band rolls on concrete floor--
“So what do you guys smoke?”
“They mean Marlboro super chunk-style cigarettes, Mom.”

   Band lights up in a giant blue cloud.

“Gentlemen, NOT in the house.  Outdoors – and trash the butts appropriately.”
“We’ll swallow em,” said the drummer.

   I padded after them to, you know – hang.  So like… they—stood around smoking – and I got, um…bored.  Until they began finalizing plans for their gig.

“Hey, it’s 11:00 already?! We’re on in three hours!”
“Guys,” I said, “don’t panic. You sound great, you’ll be fine.”
“That’s not it – it’s about getting our gear to the gig.”
“I guess my Dad could haul it.”
“Man I gotta call my cousin. The guitar I’m borrowing’s still at his house!”
“That reminds me.  Bobby Klein’s supposed to drive mine to Nick’s house an hour ago. I should call him.”
“I need to wire my new pickups.”
“Strings. I need new strings.”
“I hope the rack they rented for us doesn’t suck, cuz I shot my sustain yesterday when the reverb blew.”
“That’s nothing.  Every time I touch my A string, I get an electric shock.”
“Shit, I get feedback every time I face North.”
“Feedback RULES.”
-- reverential nodding--
“Did anyone get a distortion pedal?”
“Man, there’s gonna be no gain. That Peavey’s got no highs and lows.”
“Who’s got a pedal we can borrow?”
“Seth, but his wires need to be soldered.”
“Can anyone solder?”
“What about patch cords.”
“Yup.  Need them.”

“Should I be writing any of this down?” I asked.

“Oh, Mrs. G – that’s sweet, but we got everything under control.  Except… well. Oh, never mind.”
“What, TJ?? I’ll do anything.”
“Well.  Do you think you could meet us at the Moon Walk downtown in about an hour? We’ll need Gatorade.”
“And more Reds.”
“Wait a minute, boys. You’re performing for our town on the church green in less than three hours.  Two of your instruments are missing, your verb gains and PVCs blew up, you need patchwork chords with pick-me-ups, your strings strung out -- and you want CIGARETTES?”

  As I walked back upstairs, I heard, “Thought she’d never leave. Let’s jam.”

  Their first public performance was so good, the drummer was offered a spot in a folk band, with paying gigs.  My kid’s being recorded by a sound-mixing artist, plus he’s playing out with another band at the Strand next week.  Dave Maynard is cutting a demo so Kokrocket can gig at the Espresso Bar in November, a Worcester promoter gave me his card in my Logic class yesterday and I’ve gone from Mylanta to lithium.

   I am contacting both TJ and Karl’s parents.  I’m sure now that they realize what a hit Kokrocket’s become, they’ll be anxious to get them back at either home.
Happy Wedding, Nick and Leah!!  xoxoMom