World Series of Rock

originally published in Sound Waves Magazine November 2019

We couldn’t believe it, but my sister and I had finally secured a gig at Madison Square Garden. Years of music business drudgery and beaten down dreams had come to this. On the day, we were carted into a secret entrance that led to plaque-covered walls listing the names of all those that had come before us. Posters from epic shows of the past came to life as we realized we were now one of them. A fully stocked dressing room complete with hair and makeup experts awaited us. We could hear the chants and roars and pounding from the sold-out crowd of 20,000 getting louder and louder. We glanced over our set list one more time. We did our weird vocal exercises, sprayed our throats and sucked on cough drops. We stretched our legs and abs and did neck circles. While the sound crews and lighting techs made their final tweaks, we were escorted backstage to stand behind a luxurious black velvet curtain. Like magic, the curtain rose while the crowd noise surged to a deafening crescendo. We took a deep breath and walked slowly and assuredly toward our speckled gold microphones. We inhaled, looked at each other and sang our first harmonized note, perfectly in tune, with strength and resilience. The crowd went wild.

Except that never happened. Not even close.

But that feeling, that we were on stage at Madison Square Garden to a sold-out crowd, was precisely the feeling we had when we learned our brother, after years of sports business drudgery and beaten down dreams, was headed to the 2019 Major League Baseball World Series. THE SHOW. THE BIG DANCE.

That actually happened.

You see, when someone you love achieves something so awesome, so well-deserved, so unexpected, you feel it inside just like they do. We had watched our brother grow, literally, from the time he was 3-foot high to a grasshopper when our Dad had first started playing catch with him in our backyard in Florissant, Missouri. Our brother had done it all, tried it all, and somehow had persevered to reach the epitome of what it means to love the game of baseball. His team was in the World Series.

Our whole family was right there with him every step of the way. When batters were down in the count, we were down in the count. When a tater blasted fair out to the upper decks, we flew along with it. When he was in a bus with a police escort, we were in the next seat over. When he had to face the press and explain himself, we telepathically sent him hope that he wouldn’t mess up. When he looked stressed in the dugout, we were stressed. When he had to stay up til 1 a.m. due to extra innings, we stayed up. When they won, we won. When they lost, we lost.

I don’t have to tell you sports fans what I’m talking about when you love your team, especially when your team makes it to the World Series, or the Superbowl, or the World Cup Finals or the Stanley Cup Finals. Phrases such as WE did this and WE did that are the norm when talking sports. WE must win this one. I can’t believe WE screwed that up. Even though us fans are literally sitting in our chairs or in the stands doing nothing, it’s OUR TEAM. We are IN THIS together.

Because inherently, when someone you love, or a team you love, achieves their ultimate dream, stretches human performance to extremes, it makes us all feel like anything is possible. We feel better about ourselves and, perhaps, maybe think about never giving up on our own dreams and staying in the fight.

How would my brother feel if his sisters did get a gig at the Garden? I would imagine like he had just won the World Series.


Take Me Out to the Ballgame

originally published in Sound Waves Magazine June 2019

I’ve been watching a lot of baseball lately, and like others before me, I have realized that most things in life can be compared to baseball.  Baseball is Life, as it were.  But to narrow it down, I offer you some truisms (Sue-Isms?) about baseball and music.

1.  Once obsessed with baseball (music) you are obsessed until you die.

2.  If your bullpen (backing musicians) can’t perform well, just make the most out of your starting pitchers (front person/lead singer.)

3.  If you never make it in the big leagues (get a record deal) just coach, mentor and play for fun (be a music teacher, get in a cover band.)

4.  Playing on a baseball team (playing in a band) is a joyous but oftentimes agonizing curse that perpetually frustrates the soul while simultaneously freeing the soul.

5.  Baseball managers (band leaders) must make the tough choices while not pissing anybody off.

6.  Baseball fields (music venues) forever behold a magnetic magic and everybody cries when they’re torn down.

7.  Baseball owners (club owners) act like they own the team (the club) for fun, but they’re actually only in it for the money.

8.  Sports agents (booking agents) are never like Jerry Maguire.

9.  Baseball fans (music fans) can be infuriating and demanding, yet the utmost devoted, even when you can’t find the pocket.

10.  When the score is tied at the bottom of the ninth (playing your last song of your last set) you’re super tired but know you need to bring it home big.

11.   First inning pitches (first couple of songs in the set) can be a little rough around the edges and not particularly worth watching.

12.  When the starting pitcher gets to the bottom of the fifth inning with over 100 pitches in (end of the third set with one more set to go), you just want the bullpen (another band or the jukebox) to finish up the night (because you’re super tired) without wrecking your record.

13.  When your favorite team (favorite band) is in a slump, you want to switch and start listening to another band, but you can’t, because you just want them to come back out with some more good stuff.

14.  When the pitcher (the lead singer) and the batter (person in the front row) are having a staring contest, the lead singer usually wins.

15.  When a team manager (lead songwriter) loses favor with the press, careers can end.  Until everybody forgets about it five years later, then it starts right back up again.

16. The seventh inning stretch is like when the audience has to go home to relieve the babysitter.

17. Clearing the benches (bands fighting on stage) will always be super entertaining.

18. The umpire (the drummer) can and should have complete control over the ego and drawn out batting stance routines of batters (guitar players and their solos).

19.  If you are drafted into the minor leagues (appear on the Indie charts) it’s still a pretty good thing.

20.  Rookies (first-time open-mic performers) should be given respect and the benefit of the doubt.  You never know what great things could be on the horizon and who is secretly a Jackie Robinson, Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams or Bruce.

21.  Nothing compares to hitting a Grand Slam (getting a standing ovation at the end of the night.)

22. And lastly, ya gotta know how to play the game.