Column: The Tambourine
June 2, 2021
I cannot play a musical instrument, and I’m pretty sure if anyone would hear me sing, they might run away as fast and as far away as possible.
On one occasion in college, I was part of an organization that joined a singing competition. As silly as it sounds, the “Homecoming Sing” was a huge deal. While I was needed for numbers so it would look like we were a huge ensemble, I was told to lip-sync and that I don’t dare sing when we get onto stage.
So, although I have a “Homecoming Sing” title, I was only going through the motions.
While I am not even 1 percent musically inclined, I still love to listen, and when I was a teenager, that is about all I did. When I wasn’t listening to music in my room, I would try to get to as many concerts as possible and eventually would start to support the local music scene.
During this time, I came to be pretty good friends with a local “punk” band who quickly developed a rabid local following and brought some pretty decent bands to gigs in my hometown.
Although I was not officially a band member, I started spending most of my time with them, and it was fun to see them develop a local following so quickly. Whenever they would play, the crowds would usually grow, and on one occasion, the fever pitch swelled to about 500 people attending a show which was unheard of for a local band. No other local bands would get even a quarter of this crowd, so it was a site to see a packed venue.
Because they were my friends, I really bought into the buzz that was developing and dreamed along with them of the band making it big. I thought I could be a manager or a roadie or would have even danced around with a tambourine if they needed me to. Just the thought of going on tour and seeing the country, or maybe even the world, was so appealing to me, especially being able to do it without any musical talent.
As the band was growing locally, they tried to start to book gigs out of the area to see if they could expand their audience and create a buzz that would lead to a record deal.
On one winter day, I was asked by the very excited band members to join them on an out-of-town show in Grand Junction, Colorado. Everyone was ecstatic about the chance to go to Colorado for a show, and I thought this would be the start of something special. I think we all did.
On a freezing winter day, we all loaded up the instruments in a couple of vehicles and made the long trip talking the whole way about what should be a huge audience. I thought we would end up looking like a bunch of rock stars, but instead looked like the “Beverly Hillbillies” with funny colored hair and in a blizzard.
After navigating some pretty bad roads, we made it to the venue about an hour before the show and were surprised to see how little it was.
When it came time for the band to play, the crowd was as little as the venue. The only crowd was the members of the other bands who were there to play and me.
Everyone seemed deflated by the audience, or lack thereof, and realized the path to stardom might be a little bit harder than imagined. There was no devoted hometown crowd. It instead was an eerie scene and a band playing in pretty much an empty room.
There would be a few more shows on the road in the next few years, but the audience never grew that much.
Eventually, the hometown shows stopped happening, and the band would call it quits.
It was so much fun during those few months of their semi-stardom, but it was fleeting.
I think that night in an empty building in Colorado may have served as a valuable lesson for me.
Being an adult was going to be a challenge. And it is.
At what point do I get to go on tour? The tambourine is ready!