Singing is something I like to do, it’s what I’ve always done, so I guess that’s what I am. A singer.
My family have good singing voices. My Dad has a sweet tenor, even now, at 84, that is a pleasure to listen to. So I guess it followed that I would join chorus in first grade, continue through senior year in high school, then get rebellious and rehearse and perform with rock groups. It was also the early 80’s, great time for music! The bands I was in were singularly unremarkable; I ran across a tape that was made in 1982 of “Band of Angels” and it was truly pathetic. The drummer was off, the keyboards overpowering, the guitar player was good, but needed experience. (She’s gone on to get that experience and she’s gotten unbelievably talented … Google up Starr Faithfull, you’ll be in for a treat). The bass players were revolving. It’s actually a pretty funny example of me trying to figure out where to insert my vocals and when and in what key. I’m not listening to it much, it just sucks that bad.
I got the ROCK•ON plate around this time, totally by surprise. I’d forgotten what request I’d sent in to the RMV.
I quit making live music on Easter Sunday in 1985. The band had gotten up early and packed up all our stuff to head to a gig in Maine, four sets. We had just about enough time to drive up, set up, do a sound check, eat a bite and change before we went on at 9. No surprise to overtired me, I lost my voice during the third set. Not a thing I could do about it, just croak out the rest of the night as best I could, pack it all up and drive it on home. I drove the truck; one of our roadies kept punching my leg to keep me awake, and the song “Radar Love” got us home safely. We got back at 6AM, and I was at my day job at 8:30AM, exhausted and broken and broke.
Then there was that first marriage yuppie thing for a few years, and I put the singing away.
Karaoke started to catch on in a big way in the early 90’s. In late ’88, my buddy Dionne started running karaoke shows at a local restaurant with cassette tapes he’d stripped the vocal track out of. A bunch of former bandmates used to go one night a week, very casual, a nice laid-back mental space to have some fun with vocals with a “good band” behind you. By the time it hit big, I was already well on the road to karaoke-slut-dom. This was also about the same time that marriage number one was declining … so it was a natural choice for me to get out of the unhappy house and do something enjoyable. Oh, did I ever. I made some new friends, travelled up and down the East Coast every night, dropping into karaoke bars, singing a few songs, then leaving for the next stop on the line. I even published a newsletter identifying what shows were what night and where, passing it out wherever I went. I hit all the “money shows” and supplemented my unemployment insurance quite nicely. Eventually I just ended up running a few shows, regularly up at the Bahama Beach Club in Nashua, NH, with pick-up shows at Hanscom AFB, the Officer’s Club in Saugus, a few other places. The money was OK, but it did get tiring hearing drunk frat boys sing “Stand By Your Man” over and over nightly. I swear, I can’t listen to The Rose or Unchained Melody to this day from having to hear them butchered so badly for so long. By early 1995 I was pretty much done, but here’s a clip of me in 1992. These two performances earned first prize.
They’re dark, but the audio’s not bad.
In ’96 an old band buddy asked me to help him out on the female vocals for a tribute band to “The Commitments.” (If you haven’t seen this movie, I highly recommend it. Put on the subtitles if you can’t work out the Dublin Irish accents). That didn’t last too long, too many politics.
So now I’m down to singing in the car and occasionally at a karaoke show. Michelle is helping me re-develop my “inner rock star,” as she says, and I’m getting a lot of support from friends. It’ll be interesting to see if I can get my nerve back. I still have a MAJOR case of stage fright, but it’s not the end of the line. There’s a few people who want to see me back on stage, and while I’m nervous, I’m no longer terrified.