Party Rock Is In Dad’s House Tonight

Party Rock Is In Dad’s House Tonight

Around eleven in the evening, while my wife Lee-Ann was busy singing a fill-in gig at a private party, I dropped a few promo posters off at the Red Door in Watertown for her regular band, Bad Rooster. I was just there with my own band Driven the night before, but I had forgotten to bring the posters, so I had to make a second trip. Why did I forget? Because I am old, that’s why.

I’m actually not all that old on a galactic scale, or even a human one. I’m a couple of months shy of 43 years old, or forty-two and five-sixths, if you like (I certainly don’t). However, I do find myself forgetting things a bit more often, feeling random pain a bit more often, and playing songs antiquated enough to alienate crowds a bit more often.

The Driven gig was a lot of fun though. We all felt really good about it. We were convinced that Friday night was the best night for that club, since we had unluckily experienced one or two comparatively tepid Saturdays there. This time around we held captive a healthy crowd of interested, fun people, all dancing and singing along with us, not too alienated at all, thank you very much. I was possibly the happiest of all the bandmates, right up until I walked into the club the next night to see and hear a true roar of humanity, such that a finely tuned musical club engine can evoke, whether on a Friday, Saturday, or otherwise Anyday. I wormed my way through the swarm and left my wife’s posters with the always-busy Jim Masters while he was gleefully operating his Floydian stage light mothership. We exchanged nodding grunts barely audible over the sonic siege, and I beat a hasty retreat, pausing just long enough to fire off a picture of the crowd to send to Driven (thus sharing my anguish, because why should I be the only one to suffer?).

The band was Medway, a great-sounding cover band comprised of five average fun-loving party animals. Their Facebook page won’t allow you to take them too seriously, complete with the usual “the more you drink, the better we sound” message, but they were no better and no worse than many good cover bands. Their website’s three audio samples are all songs that Driven also covers. So why are these fellas getting twice the love we got the night before?

My mind is screaming for me to type the words. “BECAUSE WE’RE OLD, THAT’S WHY.” There, I did it. It is written, Amen. I could’t help it. It’s just so true. And to a 22-year-old, we may as well indeed be ancient on that dang-busted galactic scale. I could be their Dad! I may be slinging a keytar and blasting out Usher, LMFAO, and Lady Gaga every week or so, but I’ve got one foot in the grave. May as well start picking out wheelchairs. Boy could I go for a chicken pot pie right now. When did my Reader’s Digest subscription lapse? I’m going to write my congressman. Where’s my pills mama? Choke, wheeze, kackk, DEATH.

All right, I’m done with the self pity. Time to do what any old timer would do in this situation: get analytical (and maybe even write an article about it).

In truth, Medway has a bit more than their youth to thank for a great turnout. It’s their last show of the year, for one thing, so for all I know they’ve been promoting the holy hell out of this show for a long time. Lee-Ann knows one musician’s father (right around my age; go figure), so she happens to know the kids are all local, with tons of friends living nearby. Maybe… maybe they were giving away a free Playstation too? Pony rides? I don’t know. Every fiber in my sagging gut is telling me, despite all other excuses, that they’re just young, strapping lads whose circle of friends encompasses a demographic who, when asked if they could possibly stray out-of-doors for a couple beers and some music, can honestly answer, “indeed, kind sirs, we actually do not have a single reason why we can’t stay out until 2:00AM and spend a small fortune on twice the required alcohol to saturate our flexible, nubile livers.”

There it truly is. Clubs are for 22-year-olds. Do I even have to bother mentioning this? Is this transparent kind of sky-is-blue message really the heart of this frustrated cluster of paragraphs?

I guess so. Perhaps it’s as healing for me to write as it might be helpful for any of you downtrodden, middle-aged musicians to read, if only for it to transmute into a memory some time from now, and to gently coo in your ear at the end of a slow show: “it’s not your fault, little one. You’re just fucking old.”

Captain Obvious thus decrees that only the young can go out this late, this often, and spend this kind of money on liquid desserts. Thirty- and forty-somethings are typically out because they have either gotten pitiful permission, have hired a sitter, are just plain delusional, or possess a rare and possibly evil degree of recklessness. And once this whole temporal bracket of responsibility lapses, folks are just too goddamn tired to go out.

Or are they?

Bad Rooster is comprised of four fifty-something renegades whose kids are old enough to leave alone for a while, and they’re accompanied by my kid-free, much-younger-than-me wife who can sing the ever-loving shit out of the blues (and hates that Usher crap anyway). These presumed-rickety bunch of reprobates kick all asses. Thanks to hanging around these feisty pentagenerians for a few years, I’ve seen a lot of finely-aged songsmiths that still have a lot of fight left in their souls and want to share that passion with everyone else over the hill that still wants to go over the rainbow every weekend. This fun-loving group of finger-snapping parents and grandparents is a niche, though, and this niche won’t usually be found at a club crackling with the frothy, arrogant energy of three hundred stubbly semen pouches. Bad Rooster, for their part in this fold, is not a “party band,” they’re a classic blues/rock band with whom you can sufficiently party. I’ve got to hand it to the Red Door for appreciating Bad Rooster’s music enough to let them take over the night every so often, since it’s never going to be a ten thousand dollar night with them. Maybe it’s just nice to take a break from the shrill convulsions of furious, vomiting mayhem once and a while, and instead cater to an amicable crowd that is rarely unruly, and typically adorning their neatly-paid tabs with generous tips. Hell, maybe it’s just really, really nice to take a break from the same handful of cover songs, too. After considering all these maybes, I think I’ll just attribute it to Lee-Ann. She’s young and hot. Oops, this analogy just became a train wreck.

Nevertheless, band variety is just one of the reasons why the Red Door is going to be around for a while, and why I love going there so much. They’ve gone through many iterations and have gone through a multitude of vibes over the years. My wife wistfully remembers a time when it was a blues club; you can see evidence of this with the larger-than-life portraits of BB King, Eric Clapton, and similar statesmen on the walls. There however remains, to this day, a suitably wide diversification of bands appealing to a good variety of age groups on the Red Door docket. There’s also plenty of opportunities for anyone to try and get a gig there… opening slots, open mics, band battles, etc. are always going on there.

You see, being in a party band is not a must; you can play anything you like, with quality, if you can learn to appreciate being in a niche. But if in your mature years you still prefer to be in a band whose motto resembles “the best hits of the ‘80s, ‘90s, and today!” – because us old people always forget that the ‘00s is also a bygone decade – do not delude yourself into thinking that you and your ripened troupe of noisemakers will ever entertain teeming throngs based solely on the quality of your musicianship.

In a party band, just because you’re good, it doesn’t mean you’re interesting. Youth is interesting to the young. If you’re not young, you’re going to need more than song selection and talent.

“No man, we’re different. Our bass player is funniest guy in the Human Resources department.” No, you’re not at all different. I’m sure you’re all funny guys in your circle, but there’s nothing less funny to people half your age than people twice their age, especially during muffled, incoherent babbling in between songs they’ve never heard of. “Naw, dude, we’ve got, like, awesome gear, and, like, these rope lights, and…” No, Pseudosteve Perry. Just stop believing.

The ideal party band would be equated to a reality TV show, because that’s the kind of crap these damn hooligan whippersnappers are watching all the time. Reality shows are typically hot people in their underwear having first world problems. Party bands are hot people (possibly in their underwear; I’ve seen a few bands like this) asking “do you have the time to listen to me whine?” Any other kind of party band had better be damned fascinating to watch, in any way possible, to get an audience even close to the volume provided by junk-food entertainment. Oh, and guess what? Four or five average dudes that all work together in an office building ain’t all that damned fascinating in the slightest.

I’m sorely tempted to suggest that if you’re 40 and you want to entertain shitloads of 20-year-olds, you should make movies, not music.

But that’s an empirical you can overcome with persistence and guts. If you’re an old fart trying to play in the kiddie sandbox, at least try to get really creative, for God’s sakes. You’re entertainers. Don’t be black-shirted lumps who feel like the audience owes you anything for your decades of basement practice jams. Even if you all start wearing matching wigs or diapers or something, it’s a start. For a perfect example, behold the majesty of the Amish Outlaws. These guys know the definition of “shtick” and have garnered a superb empire for themselves owed to this knowledge. They’re good musicians, but so the hell are you, Dad! Yet there you are, stuck in McFisticuffy’s in Glorpington, Connecticut, plucking along with your goateed office buds in an empty dance floor full of peanut shells and broken dreams. No matter how mainstream your song selection is, you are still a niche band, because you’re old. Period. I’ll bet at some point, you’ve had a band meeting during which the Human Resources guy blurted out, “man, all this dance shit blows. Let’s play one Iron Maiden tune. ONE.” Chances are, you may as well do just that! You’re already a niche band anyway because of all this time you’ve spent on Earth, so you may as well have some fun onstage. At least you wouldn’t be FALSE.

These words may not get read by very many people, and maybe you could consider that an advantage. After all, if every band full of moonlighting wage monkeys all started cleverly achieving notability and memorability somehow, you’d have that much harder of a time sticking out. The bright side of that of course would be a much livelier band scene!

By the way, if you’re young and you suck, you’re still not getting anywhere. At least talented old folks have a ghost of a chance if they all wear diapers onstage. You have zero chance without lessons, and by the time you’re good, you’ll be old too. Oops, sorry about that black eye. I’ve got a bag of frozen peas in the freezer if you need it.

After David C. Lovelace got learning how to walk out of the way, he got to work learning how to play music on a tantalizingly colorful Lowrey organ. From 1974 on, little Dave played radio hits by ear, employing the organ’s “Magic Genie” auto-chords and bossa nova drumbeats. He eventually graduated to his first keyboard in the synth-tastic mid-’80s, and it was only a matter of time until the one keyboard multiplied into a massive pile of digital and analog cacaphony. And when Dave strapped on his first keytar, it may as well have been a straightjacket. Dave has been terrifying family, friends, animal life, and (mostly) his neighbors ever since in a wide variety of bands & independent projects over the years. Much of his music found a global audience through online media including YouTube, including a “1980s Keyboard Solo Medley” which will go down in history as “one of those internet things.” All of Dave’s music, art & animation can otherwise be found online at www.umop.com

Dave on LBR: http://www.localbandreview.com/category/video/wednesday-jams/

4 Responsesto “Party Rock Is In Dad’s House Tonight”

  1. Steve LaMarine says:

    You probably wouldn’t have so many aches and pains to piss and moan about at 43 if you weren’t being held together with duct tape and stainless steel screws! Youth really is wasted on the young … as is a lot of other stuff I won’t get into here. Keep in mind that Mick Jagger is just two months younger than I am and he can have any woman he wants. He has no idea what to do with them after that, but that is not the point. BTW, “matching shirts” … how very Kingston Trio!

  2. Sean Morse says:

    Excellent blog David. I think these thoughts come with age and wisdom. I am sure the Miles Davis and Duke Ellington’s thought the same things about 1985 as we do about the music of today( year 2000+). Each generation or era has it’s mainstream and lesser known music. My favorite paragraph in this blog is is the temporal bracket of 30 and 40 something year old’s. Yep……that’s who I hang out with. LOL!!!!

  3. Tim says:

    Great article! I have also seen Medway at the red door, great place for a show! http://www.medwaymusic.com