And Soup With Tony's Dad
“No, on the bucket.”
I squatted on an upside down five gallon bucket and felt the grooves begin to work their way into my butt.
As the band, Capital Times, plugged in and tuned up, I took stock of the basement: the walls were covered with dingy grey carpet. A lava lamp sat unused in the corner. Posters of the Clash, Playboy centerfolds, and Onion articles were stapled to the carpet. Two power strips were plugged into the only outlet. From those, cords led to a buzzing bass amp, a guitar amp covered with duct tape, various guitar effect pedals, a mix-and-match PA, three trouble lights, and a small refrigerator.
The band was set up at one end of the long, low basement room and I sat in front of them on my bucket.
Tony tapped his vocal mic and said, “Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the first performance of Capital Times!” He paused and looked at the other three guys.
As the only person in the audience I clapped loud and hard. Tony is the son of my sister-in-law's ex-husband and he's the lead singer in Capital Times. I like Tony's dad, a great cook.
Satisfied with my applause, Tony said, “This song is called ‘Sparkles on the Dognads'. It's about frustration.” The drummer, Randy, senior in high school, counted one two three...And the band began to howl. Oh, it was grand. The bassist, Ed, junior in high school sat on a pedal note, the guitarist, Dave, driver for the Denver Post delivery, began humping his amp with his Les Paul, Randy threw his sticks in the air, caught one, and began beating on anything he could see. Tony, for his part was restrained. He whispered, “Dognads hate you/Don't think it's not true.” Then he screamed something about anger.
The guys weren't watching me so I stood up, rubbed my butt and walked upstairs where Tony's dad was stirring soup in the kitchen.
The floor rumbled with the sound the Capital Times. “Quite a band the boy has.”
“Well, they're young and they're having fun.”
“But do you like them?”
“I've heard worse.”
“You want soup? Answer me straight: Do you like them?”
“Me neither,” said Tony's dad as he ladeled a frothy chowder into a bowl and handed it to me. “Want a beer?”
“Yes. It doesn't matter that I don't like them. They're making rock and roll. They COULD be down there with turntables and trance records.”
“Good Lord,” said Tony's dad as he handed me a beer, “I try to keep out of Tony's affairs and I'd support him if he was into the Rave stuff, but I thank God every day that he's not.”
“I think it's all right. We're old people. We're supposed to hate the music our kids like.”
“Sure, the generation gap,” He put the lid on the kettle. “You gotta understand, I hate the music Tony's making right now but it doesn't bother me that he's doing it. At least he's not taking Extacy. That's what those raves are about. Drugs, dancing, hooking up...”
“C'mon. Don't be a fool. Rock and Roll has been about drugs, dancing and hooking up for fifty years.”
“You don't think for a second that he's not curious about that stuff?”
“Sure, he's curious, but making music keeps his mind off other things.”
“This is good soup.”
“Do you think they'll ever be any good?”
“Sure. It'll take a few years. Right now they're dreaming. They talk about how they'll furnish the tour bus. The drummer will quit, go to college. The bass player will start playing classical piano. The guitarist will get into the blues. Tony will learn to play guitar and start showing up at open mics. He'll sing sensitive folk songs. That's how you get chicks.”
Tony's dad put his beer on the counter. He said solmenly, “Tony will never be folk singer.”
I finished my soup, went back downstairs with beer in hand. The song crashed to an end. I clapped and shouted, “Bravo!” The kids, covered in sweat and pride, grinned at me.
“What'd ya think?” asked Tony.
I took a dramatic slug from the bottle and said, “You're gonna be the next Beatles.”
--Strapping Danforth, April, 2001