Older, Wiser and Rockin'
by Anneli Rufus
When was it that you first realized being a rock star must be the coolest thing in the world? The first time you heard Wipe Out on the radio? Or when your big sister and her friends came home, glowing, from a Beatles concert?
What followed? Pounding every tabletop, every dashboard with both index fingers in flawless rhythm until your parents bought you a real set of drums? Playing air guitar with all the proper contortions, inserting the phrase "Fender Stratocaster" into every conversation until you finally got one? At that point, the stadium packed with screaming fans seemed just a riff away.
|Tips for Would-be Bee Gees:|
|Looking for members? Advertise on community bulletin boards; be specific about the level of skill you seek and the kind of music you plan to play.|
|How pro should you go? Playing at weddings? Being next year's Nirvana? Agree on a goal.|
|Going to be cover girls (or guys)? When performing old faves, work the retro angle. Go all-out with Elton eyeglasses, Ohio Players wigs.|
|Choose a rehearsal schedule and space — basements and garages are old standbys — that won't drive your cohabitants and neighbors nuts.|
|Post-rehearsal parties bring members' families together to hear what you've been up to. They're your best test audience, and they won't feel left out.|
|It's not Rock without some booze. Take our quiz to find the beer that's right for you.|
So, pardon the question, but where's that Stratocaster now?
Statistics and the march of time have a habit of elbowing our swirlier aspirations into the nether regions. How many keyboards, drums and guitars languish right this minute — cobweb-festooned, unplayed yet not quite forgotten — in the attics of America? Who, reading your legal briefs this afternoon, would ever suspect that you once believed you would be the next Frampton?
So who said you had to stop all those arpeggios? The clock?
OK, so you aren't Stevie Nicks. That's no reason to keep the musical you bound and gagged forever. Starting your own band, right now, is a great way to get back in touch with those old dreams and transform them into pure fun.
Just ask Kevin Bacon. With his brother Michael, the star records and performs a `70s-tinged folk, rock, and country blend. On the pair's CDs you can hear the actor sing about lost dogs and spoiled vacations.
"All Bacon Brothers songs are at least loosely based on real-life experiences," notes Bacon, who calls his musical venture "a lot of laughs."
Getting back into practice will give you a whole new reason to be proud of yourself. It's also one of the quickest and easiest spiritual experiences you can have. You may never have compared Freebird with a yogic headstand or Yes songs with a seder, but that otherworldly high can start with a single strum.
Music lifts us out of the quotidian like nothing else. That goes double for music you're making yourself. Triple for music you're making with a roomful of like-minded friends.
For San Francisco drummer Miles Stegall, the friends matter more than the music. Ever since high school, he has joined a continuous string of bands — "but I always wait until I find a really great group of people that gets along well. I would never join a band just to play."
And when you play, you're communicating with those friends — not to mention your audience — in a lingua franca unfettered by the awkward fits and starts of ordinary conversation. It brings friendship to a higher level, Stegall says. And in that realm, even just for an hour, no one's going to say you're not Keith Moon.
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