I went down to my basement the other day to look for an extension cord or something and I stopped dead in my tracks. No, it wasn’t another mouse or a monster daddy long-leg, it was worse: it was a band practice basement frozen in time. My guitars in their cases, speakers strewn about hastily set down in the middle of the floor after the last post-gig load-in; printouts of chords and lyrics of songs to be worked on; mic stands placed haphazardly here and there; a zipped-up gig bag filled to the brim with carefully wound equipment cables; another bag with multiple microphones set into their foam resting places. I also spied a massive and intricate spider web between the mixer and the drum set. The day the music died was around March 13, 2020. We all know why.
It got me thinking about my other basements of band practice pasts. Upon reflection, most conjure memories of low ceilings, dank and dark, moldy and cave-like; some more spider-webby than others. Some were finished and carpeted in completely livable lower levels with walkouts to fresh air, useful when needing a breather from the intensity of bandmate drama or creative juice overload. Some band practice spaces weren’t basements at all. They were apartment living rooms, upstairs bedrooms or rented studios, all transformed for the same purpose: musical creation and comradery.
The tools of music have always been able to find their own rightful spaces next to weight-lifting equipment, exercise bikes, holiday storage bins, stockpiles of toilet paper and extra condiments and the aforementioned, extension cords. The tools always had a higher purpose. They had a reason for being there. They were essential to a life well lived.
The fact that my current basement space has succumbed to paralysis and cobwebs due to global events beyond its control, is indeed, sad and scary. They say you shouldn’t get sentimental about real estate, but this basement has served me well; better than the others. It is bright and airy with majestic countryside views through copious windows, with plenty of lighting when things go late into the evening, complete with a spacious groupie sectional couch. Plenty of room for even working on some background dancer numbers (no, but oh how fun that could have been!) Oh what could have been indeed.
We continue to hold on to hope. Happy Halloween.