Saturday, January 22, 2011

Bandmates To Go: An Essay On Vampires In My Life

They've caused me grief; they've caused me angst; they've beaten me down; they've drained me. Such has always been my Van Helsing life among the vampires.

Nosferatu. Dracula. Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee. Blade and 30 Days of Night. From Dawn Till Dusk and from the cult of Buffy to the corny Diaries and Twilight, vampires have long been in our midst. And some, even, become our emotional sucking bandmates.

I remember being in a band with a me-me-me-me-me vampire named Michael. Michael was a good looking guy, bespectacled, tall and lean, with musician long hair, and his fingers were Russian on those guitar strings. Michael was a narcissist. He had this grandiose sense of importance along with an imaginary entitlement. Though technically awesome on the electric guitar, Michael was socially draining his bandmates. Lacking any empathy, me-me Michael continuously needed things to be done his way. And he even threw tantrums. At one rehearsal Michael yelled at me to Shut up! Michael's exit from the band came shortly after.

I remember being in a band with a poor-me vampire named Patti. Patti was forever the victim. The other band members were blamed for her unhappiness. They didn't want to play the right songs, and if even they did, they played them the wrong way. Patti was gorgeous girl with angelic vocals, but a diva personality. When she didn't get her way she would pout and refuse to participate on other members' songs. And she could pout, and she pouted right up until the day we kicked her out of the band.

I remember being in a band with a control-freak vampire named Kenny. Kenny was grayer than the rest of us and had been around the music world for a couple of decades. He and his other band even cut a few records in America. Kenny knew the equipment inside out. He would alter the sounds, mind the microphones, mend the mixer. Kenny also needed to be the official spokesperson for the group. He was the maelstrom, all the rest of us just incidental swirls about his important position.

I remember being in a band with a drama-queen vampire named Deborah. She was short and round and ever chatty and her adventure stories were ever boring. Oh this would happen and that would happen and then oh my and then well for the life of me and then and then and then. Deborah sometimes showed for practice and was always late for gigs. Deborah was not a great singer and it was a treat to kick her out of the band.

All of these vampires which I described had a few things in common. All were high maintenance and all of their imagined strengths ironically proved to be their Waterloo. All of these vampires winkled their way into the band, and all were voted out through consensus. Any woolgatherings any of these vampires dreamed about, were dashed by their own self-centred shortcomings.

Good bandmembers are unflappable. They stay calm under duress. Just two nights ago, our newest band member, Eric the fiddler, sang Ophelia (The Band) for the very first time in public. We had rehearsed it just one time previous. Of course, we hung him out to dry a bit, playing the right chords in the wrong place and finally fixing things near the end of the song. All said and done, Just needs a tweak, Eric stated with a smile.

Two members in our band just want to play their instruments. One plays rhythm, the other the cajon. They get lost, mesmerized from the beginning to the end of every song we perform. These guys act vanilla, but they are great, great bandmates.

All of these above mentioned characters are but transitory and ephemeral musical experiences, and more reason why busking is so beautiful. Busking is beholding to no one. On a busk there need never be a compromise, never a spat, nor a kiss and make up, and ...

never, ever a vampire!

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