“Pittsburgh has over 400 of these…” the moderator said and we all looked at each other with blank stares. “Hills?” someone across the table asked the group. “No, I think bridges” Chick said. We all discussed the possibilities between bites of dinner, and decided on hills. Once the answer was handed in and the guesses scrutinized, the questions in that round were recapped and the correct answers were revealed. “Question number 4, the answer is bridges.” “See, you should have listened to me! I lived in Pittsburgh for a few months years ago” Chick said. “You should have said so.” someone retorted. The scores were updated, “…and the Sock Monkeys in the lead with 240 points!” Everyone at our table erupted in applause, along with others at surrounding tables who were competing in the trivia game. Our usual trivia place was full up, so we traveled across town to give somewhere else a try. And we were rockin’ it!
Last February I was watching the world stroll by the porch where we were hanging out and sipping beer in the sunshine. I have been thinking about how I wanted to write about the places that the Band Wives (and husbands) visited in Key West last winter, then I crunched the numbers and realized we frequented 22 different restaurants and bars! How to get this down to a manageable number…to make it an even dozen, I’ve decided to leave the Hemingway bars Sloppy Joe’s and Capt Tony’s for a separate read. So here are 12 of the most fun places, all located in sunny Key West!
We started at the Grand Vin Wine Bar, the wives lured in by the chalkboard sign out front that said, “Free Wine Tasting!” The guys and I scrounged a couple of beers from a cooler in the back while the wives lined the bar. We got our drinks and headed out to the porch and the sunshine. A photo op led us to meet Liz and Dave (on the left), there on Key West for a long weekend from Indiana. She heard someone yell, “Troublemaker!” (it could have been meant for any one of us} and then offered to take a pic. They joined us for a drink and we became fast friends, joining in when the partiers on a balcony across the street started a yelling war, in which of course we participated. When it was time to get some dinner, Liz and Dave recommended The Salty Angler. We were charmed by the fish tacos and live music. It didn’t take long for the dancing to start when we heard Warren Zevon’s Lawyers, Guns, and Money, one of Bridgette’s faves.
20 degrees in Syracuse at 6 am. By 3 pm I make it to sunny Key West. Blue water, sandy beaches, and chickens roaming the streets. Warm air hits my face as I get off the plane. Inside, I spot the bar at the same time that I hear ” Yea, Debbie!” They are all anxiously waiting my arrival so we can head to our island getaway.
After checking in, the more responsible band wives decide that chores must be done. After the beds are made, suitcases unpacked, and clothes changed, we head out grocery shopping. We walk down the street, then the tide of wives turns. Those in the back understand the shift immediately when we see the sign, “Free Wine Tasting.” The wives head for the bar while the guys and I scrounge in the back cooler for beers, and then venture out on the porch.
Later, fortified, the band wives venture off to find essentials at CVS while the rest of us enjoy cocktails, sunshine, and vacation.
Perfect afternoon, sunny and hot. Music blaring from the speakers on the deck overlooking the rolling hills. Banquet tables overloaded with the most delicious food and delectable desserts, and coolers full of ice and drinks underneath.
And here is a pic of me, who was smiling this hard the whole day!! Bands On The Run, a concept that came to fruition on July 17 of last year, was the icing on a cake we had started to bake months before. One night while we were sitting around lamenting the lack of gigs for our bands, a thought surfaced. What if we created a gig? A venue where our favorite bands and then others connected to them could play and be heard and appreciated! We quickly searched for a facility that could contain all of this fabulousness and found Skyline Lodge at Highland Forest. The Band Wives jumped in planning food and fun, two of our favorite things. The guys practiced and curated their playlists for their respective bands and then songs to be performed as a supergroup, including the iconic Wings tune Bands On The Run. And we promoted the hell out of it! If you build it, they will come. And come they did! So many friends and family, people I didn’t know and friends I hadn’t met yet, all who showed for the same reason we did, to enjoy music, food, and fun.
Starting us off that day were two of the guys from the band Drink The Punch. Recent college grads Brad Bargelski and Andrew Nicholson had some unique covers and gave us the edge that only the young and hip can bring. One of the great thing about budding musicians today is that there are thousands of songs from over the past 60 years that can be covered and reimagined and mashed up and these two performed them like a boss!
Day Ja Voo took the stage next. Known for their great harmonies and the many America tunes they cover, they put together a perfect playlist for a sunny afternoon. We all know those yacht rock songs from the 70’s and these guys can evoke nostalgia just by playing the first few notes of each beloved tune. Whether CSN (and sometimes Y), The Eagles, or the Traveling Wilburys, the harmonies are spot on. Audience members are constantly singing along and they always have an extra tambourine handy.
Mobius Jones Band also worked hard to bring their best to the crowd that afternoon at Highland Forest. From All Right Now by Free to Message In A Bottle by The Police to No Matter What by Badfinger, these guys rock it out. When they played Rock This Town by The Stray Cats, there was a full scale zumba inspired dance by several Band Wives and their zumba friends. led by their instructor Jesus. Several audience members joined in and it was bigger than Michael Jackson’s Thriller!
Then it was time for the Band Wives to shine. Joanne (wife of the drummer and MJB lead vocal singer Eric) and the other Band Wives performed the classic 80’s We’ve Got The Beat, accompanied by her husband’s band). Getting the guys to back us up took a lot of cajoling, since the guys were leery when any of us are looking to perform with the band, anyone even suggesting it earns the nickname Y0ko. This performance was about as much of the spotlight as of the women could handle, singing back up and doing some basic choreography; we are better suited for sitting in the audience playing percussion instruments and yelling, “You guys rock!”
Open mic was the last act on the bill, with some blending of the three bands (more than just the blending that happens because Bryan is in both MJB and DJV), and then special guests, like yours truly! I made my guitar debut playing Traffic’s Dear Mr. Fantasy, thanks to my guitar teachers Jeff (from DJV) and John (MJB) and Brad, who also played with me on the song. Tonia got up there and sang some Creedence, and Beverly got up there with her ukelele.
As the day came to an end, there were songs not played and food not consumed (the Band Wives are notoriously famous for cooking too much!) We gathered enough money to pay for the venue and donate any extra to the local food bank (along with the food we had collected for that purpose.)
This year Bands On The Run 2 will be at the Onondaga Yacht Club on August 19. Mobius Jones and Day Ja Voo will be back, along with other musicians looking for a fun time. Admission is free, just bring whatever you want to drink and a dish to pass. This year we will be collecting funds as well as new and gently used items that can be used to set up new households for two local charities that help the chronically homeless A Tiny Home For Good http://www.atinyhomeforgood.org/ and In My Father’s Kitchen http://inmyfatherskitchen.org/.
If I have made this sound irresistible and you would like to join us for BOTR2, message me and I will get you the deets. Rock on!
We all have those friends…ones that thrive on jokes and pranks and can at times be pretty clever. My life is filled with people like that which makes for some pretty funny stories. How did Winnie The Pooh end up drunk on my bed? Once upon a time, a few of the band guys and wives gathered at my house for dinner. It was going to be an outdoor work party, but with the rainy weather it turned into dinner. I had plans to see a play later in the evening, so when it was time for me to go, I told the gang I would clean up later, and that they could stay as long as they wanted and lock up when they were done. I should’ve paid more attention when I heard the first few notes of Old Time Rock and Roll being played on the guitar. As I drove away I hoped there would be no hookers and booze like when Tom Cruise was left alone.
On my way home after the play I texted Tonia and asked her how long they had stayed. She said they had left about a half hour before. As we approached, the curtains were wide open and every light was on. I said to Linda, “Who do they think is playing the light bill, Vanderbilt?” We had a good laugh and as I got out of the car to go in, my housemate arrived home. I went into the house first and as she rushed upstairs to go to the bathroom as I yelled after her, “OMG, come back down! I have no idea what happened here!”
The hallway looked emptier than usual. And why was the coffee table so tiny? It was made out of solid wood, and I knew it didn’t fold, so how was it so low to the ground? There were books and knickknack on the surface, and when I lifted up the tablecloth underneath them, I finally realized it was actually the bookshelf from the hallway, laying flat on its side. The couches had been switched and the pillows moved back, so they were on the opposite couches. On to the dining room where all chairs were mysteriously missing, and the pictures on the wall had been switched and in some cases turned around backwards.
Everything on a surface of the dining room had switched shelves or furniture, and all the napkins were hanging from the curtains. As we moved into the kitchen, every cupboard door was open and things were clean, just very out of place. Upstairs in the bathroom, things had changed places and more pictures were askew and backwards. Michelle and I kept laughing and laughing as we moved from space to space noticing everything. We put a few things back into place, then I decided it was time for bed; I had to work very early the next morning.
They left me an empty wineglass and a half empty bottle of wine, next to my Winnie The Pooh. I posed him for a drunken teddy bear picture to text out. I saw that the duvet had been moved and thus found their last trick, short sheeting my bed. It took me a while to get to sleep that night. I would like to say it was because I was busy plotting revenge, but my mind just doesn’t work that way. It’s just not in the cards for me. I still keep one picture in my bedroom purposely turned around just to make me laugh about the people in my life who keep me smiling every single day! And last weekend when I had some friends over working at the house, you can bet it wasn’t one of those hooligans I left in charge!
#GivingTuesday. I have seen some really worthy organizations tagged on my Facebook feed today and it got me thinking, who would I support and donate to if I won the lottery? As anyone who knows me would guess, I already have a plan. Hey, you never know! In no particular order, here are some of the groups I would support. No doubt you have seen or heard me talk about them. In lieu of actually winning the lottery, I do support these organizations now I whatever way I can. If enough drops of water come together, they can form a really big wave!
Number one on my thankful list is always my family. I know how lucky I am to have both my parents still living and in good health. I have six brothers and sisters that I love to spend time with and get to see more often than most. I am lucky in so many ways. I am employed by a company who stays closed on Thanksgiving, I own a beautiful home, and I have such amazing friends in several different circles of my life. So what am I doing to celebrate all of these blessings on Thanksgiving? Sitting home alone.
Don’t cry for me, Argentina. This situation is totally by choice. I am a proud singleton. I have loved the concept since the very first Bridget Jones book, long before anyone ever heard Renee Zellweger say it. Don’t get me wrong, I am still waiting for mister right, that chance to connect with someone in a meaningful way and to share my crazy life, but in the meantime, I am embracing that single life.
“Road Trip!” she shouted. “Let’s go to Woodstock! You can’t write a rock and roll blog without ever going to Woodstock! Not when we’re so close!” How could I ignore that level of energy and enthusiasm? She was right, I needed to go. I had actually been thinking about Woodstock earlier in the weekend when John tagged me in a Facebook post with this gorgeously haunting video by Good Harvest:
So we were off, leaving from Hobart, the Book Village of the Catskills (where I was attending the Hobart Festival of Women Writers) and heading towards Woodstock…
I should mention my very enthusiastic traveling companion is my friend Linda, who appeared in my life first as a local writing icon, then became a writing instructor, and now she is my friend, mentor, and cheerleader. Linda was the one who encouraged me to blog about my band wife experience and even came up with the name of the website!! She keeps me focused and accountable, all the while singing my praises to anyone who will listen!
As we got closer to Woodstock, she took a slight detour down Mink Hollow Road, where Todd Rundgren used to live and record. When she was younger, she drove down this road, hoping to maybe catch a glimpse of Todd, this talented guy she was crushing on. We started feeling a bit stalkerish, driving down this narrow country road, wondering if at some point we would be found out, but then we came to the end of the road and it was actually a trail head, so we didn’t have to worry about some sheriff stopping us and asking who we were there to bother.
OK, so this may not be categorically true. Only one person was polled: me. I am sure your moms have done great things too and are superheroes in their own way. My mom turns 75 today and instead of a gift, she asked that the people who love her write a note to her or create a work of art. This is a little of both. Happy Birthday Mom. I don’t think she will mind this existing in such a public forum.
My mom has had many roles over the years, but I want to focus on one, motherhood. She has been a mom for 55 years now and if you added up all the years for every child, it is over 350!
And just in case you were wondering if that’s where she got all her gray hair from, then what about the purple or the blue?? Where did she get that colorful streak? I think it is from her sense of adventure and whimsy. There are so many stories, and I want to share just a couple with you that helped shape me into the woman I am today.
My mom had 6 kids under the age of 6. After they pick their jaws up, people always ask me how she did it. I am not sure anyone knows. When she had the twins in 1967, before ultrasounds were the norm, she fought with the doctor for much of her pregnancy because he was insistent that she was carrying one baby when she knew there were two babies were in there. Imagine the chaos when she brought those two home to add to the four of us (ages 5, 4, 2, and 1.) And what a gift when she brought home one more 5 years later to make our family complete. Even with her hands so full, there were many things she did to make each of us feel special. One of those days for me was when I was almost 10. She stayed home while my dad took a bunch of us somewhere, maybe to the Great New York State Fair. When we arrived back at home base, she had made me my very own bedroom (I think she gave up her sewing room.) It was very special to have a space of my own with so many in our family. Thanks Mom, for teaching me that no matter how busy or chaotic life is, there is a way to treat people like they are important.
Many say that Syracuse is just an average college town, but with much more snow. There is at least one person out to change that perception (besides my mom, champion of the Near West Side) and his name is Michael John Heagerty, voted Best Community Advocate in 2016’s Best of Syracuse, run by our local community publication the Syracuse New Times.
Last week I was once again at #overpassfest. It’s an informal gathering of artists and musicians that has been happening every week since June. So far there have been #overpassfests at the Onondaga Creekwalk, the Inner Harbor, the Erie Canal Museum, and at the Great New York State Fair, and each one has been unique and amazing. Musicians with guitars, basses, tambourines, trombones, and even a couple of cajons (a percussion box that you can sit on and play at the same time) show up at the designated place at the appointed time and just start to perform. The groups constantly change as the evening goes on. Add in photographers (like my friend Lisa Kane), artists of all sorts of media, and for at least one week, a guy with a typewriter that wrote poems on demand. Every week people gather and create together in a community space that otherwise doesn’t see a lot of action.