For a few months now, Kate has been playing in a band with a couple of her girlfriends. The three of them take a rock-band class at a local music school — and let me just tell you, all the music schools in the country owe a big debt to Jack Black for that whole “school of rock” idea — and that’s where they found their drummer, Scott. Together, they are Po. Named for the Teletubby. They were nameless for a long time, until one day when Alan was cleaning the basement and came across Kate’s old talking Po doll. He started to put it in the bin for the Goodwill and must have squeezed her sensor, because she said, “Goodbye!” He took this as a sign we should keep it, and name the band after her. After a while, Kate agreed. If they’re still together when they’re a little older, they can tell people they’re named for Edgar Allen. Or for their parents’ financial state after paying for their music lessons and instruments.
At first I thought the idea of a guided group lesson/practice ran counter to the idea of rock ‘n’ roll, but changed my mind. Their teachers have been great; last week their regular guy was sick, and his sub got Kate and Haley, bass and lead respectively, improvising and sounding like REM.
But mostly they play covers of songs they like, and Saturday was their first real gig, at a local church’s battle of the bands. It was a marathon event, as the lineup indicates, and Po played very early on, not the best spot by a long shot, even when the crowd isn’t drinking. I think this placement was deliberate; they were the youngest band there, the only one whose members were still in middle school. But someone has to warm the crowd up, and that was the straw they drew.
Not only was the event itself hours and hours, setup and preparation took most of the day. Our part wasn’t auspicious; arriving early for setup, Alan found the church locked and no one answering the door. He rapped once, then rapped again, harder. And broke the glass on the door:
“Who puts window glass on a door?” he fumed later, displaying his cut finger. “That has to be a code violation.”
Finally the minister came, having perhaps heard the glass break. Alan offered profuse apologies, his billing address, etc. A ceiling tile was taped over the hole, the amps shlepped downstairs — because these things are always in church basements, aren’t they? — and Alan came home for dinner with me and his sister, leaving Kate to the church-basement pre-show pizza party in the embrace of her peers.
We returned and paid for our tickets. I told them to keep the change for Japanese earthquake relief, but didn’t mention the window. Good karma! Pay it forward! Etcetera.
They sounded pretty good for a bunch of 14-year-olds. They have some work to do on their stage presence, but that will come in time. Before she left, I asked Kate what she planned to wear. She shrugged and said, “What I have on?”
“Don’t you have any leather chaps?” I asked to a look of horror. She never gets when I’m joking. I told her to find something black, so that’s what she did. Her new red hair looked great under the lights. And someday, I’ll sell this picture to Rolling Stone:
They didn’t place, although their early spot gave them hours to shamelessly work their social networks and grab the Fan’s Choice award. That’s what social networks are for, and is to be expected when you put your poll on Facebook.
I often encourage them to stretch a little, maybe cover some Ramones or “Barbie Eat a Sandwich” or whatever, but as Jack Black reminds us, rock ‘n’ roll means stickin’ it to the man, and in this case, I am the man. You can’t force art.
Have to run today, as usual, but here are a few links for your chewing pleasure:
David Carr on the New York Times paywall:
When I was in Austin, I would fall asleep each night to bad dreams, prompted by cable television ranting that the world was melting down, principally in Japan. And each morning I would wake up to reporting that described in very careful detail what was actually known, not feared, about the nuclear crisis in Japan. Throughout the day, I checked my news alerts to make sure the world was not ending imminently. Tellingly, I never picked up a copy of the newspaper, reading it on the new iPad where The Times is a living thing and the better for it.
People, real actual people, went and reported that information, some of it at personal peril and certainly at gigantic institutional expense. So The Times is turning toward its customers to bear some of the cost. The Times is hardly alone: AFP, Reuters, The Associated Press, Dow Jones, the BBC and NPR are all part of a muscular journalistic ecosystem. But it seems an odd time to argue against a business initiative that aims at keeping boots on the ground during a time of global upheaval.
Mich-centric: Today is the day the governor unveils his plan to make local governments more efficient through a carrot-stick approach. This will be interesting to watch. I suspect there will be many, many bad bunnies around here who will not get their carrots.
Me, I have to run.