Friday, March 16, 2012

Me and Ron Paul

Barb performing a rockin' rendition of You are My Sunshine circa 1963

I was the first born child, grand child, great grand child, great great grand child, niece, and great niece in my family. With this came the expectation of perfection.

My Dad's nickname for me was and still is #1, much to my middle sister's chagrin. She would point out here, "See, you don't even use my name!".

I was destined for greatness, if you lived in my head. How could I not be? When you are the first born child, grand child, etc, everything you do is held up high for everyone to see.

Example, someone saw a hidden talent in the way I played the plastic violin with the little crank on the side when I was almost two. By the age of five or six, I was playing guitar at recitals. "Don't make people beg you to play," Grandma would scold me. "God gave you a talent, use it!"

School talent show.
Along came the Beatles and the Monkees, and the magic of electric guitars. Oh the joy of walking through a music store amongst the Fender, Gretsch, Gibson, and Rickenbacker axes. The smell of those guitars, the way the light glimmered in the chrome. It still gets to me.

When you are #1, what is more alluring than becoming a rock star?

I got my electric guitar and amp while still in elementary school. I had a band. We played "Steppin Stone" and "Little Black Egg" at the County Fair. I began to write songs about drugs and butterflies. It was the 60's after all.

High school was the garage band scene, drunk teenagers listening to us play "Wipe Out" over and over and over because the drummer just loved his drum part. Sometimes I would take my guitar to school and sit in the hall, playing Led Zeppelin or Buffy Sainte-Marie.

Oh that hair.
Early twenties ushered in the rock band era, when I played rhythm guitar and was a lead singer for the band Mahana.  We played the Corners Lounge in Sturgis four nights a week for a month straight. We played weddings and other bars. We rehearsed in our bass player's Charles Chips warehouse. We went to gigs in his Charles Chips delivery truck. We ate Charles Chips.

From my mid-twenties on I decided to go solo and focus on songwriting. I started with benefit concerts in Lansing and open mic night at the Ark in Ann Arbor, and turned into a folk musician rooted in rock-n-roll. By my thirties I was winning awards and selected as one of the first Resident Artists on Isle Royale National Park. I even shared the stage with Bill Danoff, the guy who wrote Country Roads. We stood side by side, he in his silk shirt, with me singing harmony and playing guitar on a little stage in Silver Springs, Maryland.

First concert of all my original music, 1984.
One time I even played a show where the girls were screaming. Really. Just like a Beatles concert. It was a rocking song, my buddy Hideko J. Mills was cranking out her incredible lead guitar riffs. And the crowd was on their feet, screaming. That was awesome.

People knew me, no matter where I went in my home town. Even in other parts of the state someone might recognize me. "Make me proud," I could hear my Grandma say. I thought I was on my way.

My mid-thirties and most of my 40's found me in Pennsylvania, starting all over with my music career. I made my way from Cape Cod to Atlanta, playing on weekends at folk venues and coffee houses. My favorite gigs were on the Cape. It looked like the UP.

To soon I entered my 50s. The age of digital downloads, smart phones, AARP, colonoscopies.

The job placement agency has special classes for "Over 50 Resumes". Hide your age, they say. Don't put in dates. And get rid of those wrinkles.

Attendance at shows drops to mostly friends. Ok, all friends. I am becoming a Beach Boy, a Mick Jagger, a Grace Slick. All five of my CDs show up on Ebay, and in thrift shops right next to Grand Funk Railroad and Steppinwolf 8 track tapes. An old press photo is found online for sale. "Veteran Folk Sensation" the heading reads.

I am officially a "has been".

Me with dear friend Annie Capps at last CD release concert.
What does this have to do with Ron Paul, you might ask? It struck me the other day that he and I have a few things in common. Our supporters adore us, think we are the best thing since sliced bread. They are the definition of loyal. And they are few. Ron Paul will never have the numbers that Mitt or Newt or Rick have. But he will always have a small loyal following to the end. Just like me.

Today I realized I will never be a rock star. I am sure at some point Ron Paul will realize he will never be a President. But neither of us quit trying.

When I look back over my life I am satisfied. Except for one thing.

I really wanted to be a rock star.


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  2. Barb! What a sweet blog and wonderful photos!

    Just remember ...

    You ARE a rock star and always will be to those who matter!