Thursday, July 7, 2011

Salad Days

I feel like describing part of the first years of my married life. Sit back, turn off the Twitter feed, silence your phone and come back with me to the mid 1990s.

Some of the other #LUBlogTribe participants would be thinking, "Hmmm. mid-1990's. Was I born yet?" To that I say, "Shut up, punks."

Steve and I moved to Rochester, NY in 1992, right after our honeymoon. We got to our near-Park Avenue, third floor / one bedroom apartment on his birthday. It was a sucky day - and I vowed to make it up to him.

Four days later, I started a doctoral program at the Eastman School of Music. The entire time I was attending the school, I would pinch myself with disbelief that I was there. I dreamt of this place for years. Every time I rehearsed in the Eastman Theatre, I was living. the. dream.

I took about a month for Steve to find work. He left his reasonably secure position at BGSU to take on a minimum wage retail job at the locally infamous House of Guitars. The work was hard, and often miserable. He hated Christmas. And Canadians. He developed some pretty bad habits of self abuse - staying up way too late but always arriving to work the next morning on time because that's the kind of reliable he is. And that is how much he loves me.

The owners of the H.O.G. were local celebrities. Their late night cable channel commercials were a riot. These spots shot after the store closed and a few cases of beer were consumed. Wanna see what I mean?

One of the owners fancied himself a Lou Reed kind of philosopher. He even recorded his own album, "Armand Schaubroeck:RatFa*cker" Listen to this and you can pretty much guess the culture. If you google his name, there's a huge online community around him full of urban legend and mystery. I found this dedication - and I shake my head in wonder. Whatever you imagine is probably not far off, if it's on the side of extreme. Most of the folks who worked at the store were insane fans of music; or in their own bands. My husband was definitely way over-qualified to work there. It wasn't too long before he found some opportunities to be creative. He ended up designing the recording studio in their store for "Mirror Records". It's no longer operational-  a real shame. That space was magic. Steve even got to record Ginger Baker there one night. If you're too young to know that name - look it up yourself.

If there was a notable rock star making the sales circuit as an instrument rep, after the work of the day, the owners would hire a limo and bar hop with all staff. I was frequently called at 9PM to doll up and go out with the gang. Most often, I was already in my PJs dutifully studying or making reeds. (A-hem) As soon as I'd get the call, I would turn off the TV, put the face back on (make-up), fluff the hair, and pushed the boobs back up for a night of entourage and free drinks. Since I have so much experience from the employee side of the bar, I am really good at spotting bar fights before they happen. Back then I was really good at flirting or engaging in conversation with anyone. Another skill from years of working for tips and easy drunks. I was the designated sober person.

One night, we skipped through some bars with Rick Neilsen. Yeah, the guitar player from Cheap Trick.
<-----This guy

It was a great night. I held my own; shielding Rick from opportunistic fans - making him laugh and being ridiculous. He taught me how to flick guitar picks across the room. At the end of the night, he signed my boob. I had to wash it off before going back to the high necked conservatory for another seminar session on medieval counterpoint.

One of the best job perks for Steve was getting back stage passes for top bands as they performed either in the Rochester War Memorial in downtown, or in one of the music clubs on East Avenue. We met some great musicians and their tech guys. Steve Tyler, Tony Levin, Bo Diddley, Paula Cole, I'm sure I'm forgetting some. Oh, and watching the final dress rehearsal for Peter Gabriel's "US" tour was a night I will never forget.

One of the best guys we met during this time was our friend, Andy Babiuk. He's one of the sweetest, hardest working guys we know. From playing lead guitar in the Chesterfield Kings, to writing books (Beatles Gear is Published. He's finishing his next book on the gear of the Rolling Stones) and running his own guitar boutique, this guy is one of our heroes. He does all this with no higher education. He just did it. Andy knows a lot of folks in the business, and a lot of people know him. He's always got great tour stories, or nailing high stakes interviews. He never lets his success get to his head. Because there's always more work to be done, and more music to share. He and his lovely wife Monica have home schooled their six children.

Steve also met a fair share of as*holes in the store, too. From our experiences in all genres of music, we can definitely say that there are a lot of great people in music - and a lot of jerks. Be careful about wanting to meet your heroes.

#21 of 90in90 for #LUBlogTribe. Hard to believe time in our lives was more than 20 years ago. So many of these memories seem like they could have happened last week.

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