Friday, January 17, 2014

My Brush with Rock Fame

17 January 2014

I salvaged the 2011 ESP catalog from the waste basket in my den last night. Showed it to my wife and she agreed that the ESP artist line-up was heavy on tattoos and freaky-looking types.

Didn’t play any Rocksmith or guitar yesterday at all, but I did sit in on drums at an open mic night last night. Considering I haven’t even picked up a drum stick since around July, I’d say it went very well. Honestly, I’d say it went pretty well even if I had been playing fairly regularly. It’s like riding a bike. I do wish they’d start some of these open mic things a little earlier. 10:00 for a start time is a tad late-ish for people who have regular day jobs. But, I was there for a friend of mine and I try to support him when I can. Like I told him, if I hadn’t gone to the open mic thing, I’d have probably just stayed up ‘til 2:00 playing Rocksmith anyway.

Had to pass up a pretty good deal on a Breedlove acoustic-electric yesterday. $249 brand new from MF was a nice price, but one of the last things in the world I need right now is another guitar. I have two in layaway at GC as we speak on top of the several I already have at the house. It’s ridiculous. Plus, I have a pick-up to put in my acoustics; I bought it on clearance over a year ago and I’ve never taken it out of the package! And, if I got a new acoustic, I’d have to get rid of one of my other two acoustics. I’ll never get rid of my Alvarez – just too much sentimental value. I borrowed money from my dad to buy that guitar 36 years ago. I still have the receipts for the payments I made to Dad. Might sound mean that my dad actually made me pay him back, but I was (and still am) damn proud that I bought that guitar myself. A hundred and eighty bucks was a chunk of change for a 14-year old kid in 1977. So, the Alvarez will be part of my estate when I’m gone. That leaves the Ibanez I bought new for $90 last year. If I get rid of that one, what will I drag around to ballparks this summer? Not my Alvarez, that’s for sure. And, probably not a brand new $250 Breedlove. So, no Breedlove. In fact, probably no more guitars at all until I get rid of a bunch of stuff I’ve already got lying around the house and garage.

Talking about iconic rock venues yesterday got me thinking about two of the better-known venues in Indy and the bands who played them. One band in particular stuck in my head all these years, mainly because I got to play with them – almost – once. It’s my only brush with rock-n-roll fame and fortune and it ended abruptly when The Patio wouldn’t let me in because I was under 21.

I’m not even sure how I hooked up with Roadmaster, but somehow I had gotten acquainted with their bass player, Peter Bailey. Peter replaced Toby Myers when Toby left Roadmaster. Toby Myers, you may or may not know, was John Mellencamp’s bass player from about 1977 to 1994. One night when I was still a teenager, Peter introduced me to Toby backstage at The Vogue. That’s about as close to being a rockstar as I ever got. Roadmaster was going to let me sit in for a few songs at The Patio, another venue a few blocks away the next night. I showed up and did the sound check and things went well. But, when I showed up later that evening to actually play, The Patio wouldn’t let me inside because I was too young. Both The Vogue and The Patio are in an area that used to be frequented by college kids, which in turn attracted lots of local high school kids. Can’t blame the bars for protecting their liquor licenses, but I can blame Indiana for having a law that says you have to be 21 years old to even enter a bar. I think that’s a stupid law anywhere, but it’s a particularly ironic law for a state where they sell hard liquor at Wal-Mart. I just wanted to play drums. If I wanted to drink, keeping me out of The Patio wasn’t going to stop me. 

A year or two later I also met Mellencamp’s drummer, Kenny Aronoff, when he did a free drum clinic at the old Fred’s Drum Shop in Indy. If either Kenny or Toby had even a vague memory of me, I’d be very surprised.

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