Saturday, November 19, 2011

Another Nom de Plume: An Essay on Doppelganger Distinction

Thinking of a stage or performance name? Just what’s in a name, anyway?

Sometimes names can comical.

When I was growing up there were several families of Lebanese ancestry in our community, whose surname was Gader. In one of the Gader families there was an Alligator (Ali Gader). When I was in university a friend of mine named his first born, Just an ol’ bean (Justin Noel Bean). When I was a swimming instructor at the YMCA I once taught a kid whose father’s full name was Oscar Plosker.

Sometimes names can be commercial.

Throughout the 60’s Marion Morrison continually would shoot ‘em up to save the American Dream, most oftentimes as a cowboy, sometimes as a soldier. The Duke's stage name was John Wayne. Richard Starkey’s drumbeats changed the planetary music scene. His stage name was Ringo Starr. Robert Zimmerman walked folk music into the American forefront. His bully pulpit name was Bobby Dylan.

A nom de plume is usually employed by authors to either disguise or distance themselves from their writings. When pseudonyms are employed by actors, it is usually for distinction, and so it is the same with bands.

Just the other day Trent, a frequent buskmate, and I were woolgathering some imaginary band names. Within minutes we had the colorfully connoted, Roy G. Biv, and its spin-off, Refraction. (Roy G. Biv is the mnemonic for remembering the order of the bent refraction of colors that is the poetry in all rainbows: red, orange, blue, and green, indigo, violet.) Trent is the lead guitarist in a band called Random Groove. As for me and mentioned several times in previous blogs, I’m in a few bands, The Grand Trunk Troubadours, Friday Harbor, and Seahorse.

I am thinking that most musicians, who choose to play in bands, have constantly churning in their psyche, a vast wordrobe of imaginary nicknames.

A musician friend of mine, Brian King, was the lead singer in the whilom Winnipeg band, Billboard Heroes. He is currently singing in a Vancouver Beatle tribute band called The Bickertons (they squabble lots). Brian has for years, in his head, been carrying around the imaginary perfect band name which he literally picked off the ground one day and proclaimed, Fancy Gumbox!

Trent and I are planning very soon to hit the road with an Indian Drum Group called The Kawacatoose Boys. The Kawacatoose Boys originate from the Kawacatoose First Nation in Saskatchewan, Canada. The Kawacatoose First Nation is named after its first chief, Kawacatoose, who was considered lean in physical stature. This sidequest callithump of gigs we’re planning in collaboration with The Kawacatoose Boys is to be called The Lean Man Tour.

What’s in a name?

Well mount up, Pilgrim, and take a listen ... Riding with a pseudonym under your saddle gives you a galloping opportunity to freely express and explore your doppelgangerness, in a persona that can be fashionably disguised and very distinct from your normal and sometimes boring sorry self.

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