Band Members Only
It was at this place, in the summer of 1982, that the world began to change for me. I was guitarist for a band, a group of friends who had played together for several years. On a small town scale, we were actually pretty good and had a modest following. It is that following that brings me to this post.
Our rehearsal studio was in the back room of a pawn shop owned by our bass player's Grandfather. Dusty- with a smell of age that can only come through decades of items discarded for cash. It was however our place, and as I left my early teens and saw high school graduation coming fast, this place helped me escape the life of a child and enter that magical time when you feel that the entire world is at your feet and to conquer it all you had to do was show up. This was a time when innocence masked itself as maturity and mistakes were just part of the game.
We practiced several nights a week, and people other than the band began showing up. At first it was just a few close buddies, but eventually it became a crowd, and our rehearsals became concerts. By its zenith, we even had a full blown light show, and were so loud that items would vibrate off shelves. This was rock and roll at its finest. Raging uninhibited teenage angst, complete with all the accouterments of the lifestyle.
There were dark times there as well. Times when lines were crossed at a level that would scare any decent parent to death. Girls passed out. Police visits. Fights. I can remember seeing one individual so looped out of their mind that they were bleeding and didn't know it. And still, the music roared and the multicolored lights changed in time with the songs.
I had a spot over against a brick wall that was my area. My amp, my guitar, my cigarettes, and a seat where one "friend/fan" would sit with his head laid over on the amp. Young ego easily inflated, we saw ourselves as much more than we were, and bought into a belief that what we were doing was good and we were heroes.
I don't recall exactly why the music stopped. But one day, no doubt after a band argument, it just ended. But even years beyond the smell of beer and weed, beyond the nights when we were blasting out original tunes and everyone there sang along with us. The door remained. An enduring and unending testimony to a time that will never come again.
Since that time most everyone involved have left the old home town. Some are doing quite well for themselves, others are dead- gone much to early. Most of us have become productive members of the society we tried so hard to avoid. A few are Grandparents.
Sometimes I will take an MP3 player with me to the river. On it are a couple of songs, poorly recorded with a jam box set in the back of the room. Just before the crash of the cymbals and the roar of the guitars, you can hear the old gang. Young, cool, and in the moment. Most days, I will move past those songs without giving it a thought. However, there are moments that I will let it play, and as the line arcs past me and the fly hits the water, the sound of the river I love so much is overpowered by a younger me...a me that I am not sure I know anymore. Fearless, wreckless, and wild. Now days those are the words I use to describe the river. Perhaps I have grown up, or perhaps I have simply changed venues.