Rock and Roll High School

The next couple of weeks were uneventful. Bart and I took a few trips to Providence to do some sessions with someone he knew there, a violin player doing some kind of electric avant jazz, which was fun and paid okay, and Moondog Three played out about once a week. We opened for Dali’s Express who had just made their “major label debut” and we got written up in one of the local music zines as “fun.” I supposed I could live with that description. I accidentally missed an afternoon of work when I was putting lyrics to the new stuff I’d been working on and ended up completely hoarse and almost without a job, but Michelle covered for me and I worked overtime that weekend to make up for it. Living near Berklee, I browsed the used section of their bookstore a lot and picked up a bunch of textbooks on the music industry. And read them.

Not being famous but working real hard at it seemed almost like a routine I could settle in to.

Until Remo called from the road. “Yeah, I’m traveling. New album’s just about done and I have a bunch of obligations to fill. What are you up to?”

“Dunno. Maybe trying to record an indie album. But there’s one snag in that plan.”

“Which is?”

“Haven’t found an indie label yet who likes us as much as we like them.” That wasn’t strictly true, I hadn’t really looked yet. I wondered if he’d been in touch with Artie, or what. I didn’t mention the publisher asshole. “I’m still looking.”

“The Minor Leagues, huh?”

“Excuse me?”

“You know, you can’t play in Yankee Stadium until you’ve been through Columbus. The indie labels are just strong enough now that the majors can use them as a training ground, a testing ground.” He sounded very pleased with the comparison.

“I guess.” I suppose that made me the equivalent of a bat boy or something. I must not have sounded enthused because he changed the subject, told me when he would be passing through, and wondered if we could get together for a drink or what have you. Two weeks. We were doing a show at the Cellar then. I hesitated to ask him to come see it, but as soon as I mentioned we were probably gigging that night he wouldn’t hear otherwise. “I’ll be there with bells on.”

That day at work I restocked the Local Rock section and tried to see what labels were on the records. Throbbing Lobster. Rounder. Glitter Girl. Charles River.

Bart hadn’t given up. “It sounds fine to me.”

“Well, it doesn’t to me.” The drum track was cued, and I kicked it in. He didn’t argue while we played. When we hit the end, though, he wanted to know if that was good enough. “No, it wasn’t.”

He insisted it was and that we ought to move on. I couldn’t come up with any concrete reason why we should do it again. So we moved on to Candlelight, which I made us run through five times, too. Some times we ran through our whole set, start to finish, without stopping, but this wasn’t one of them.

When we were putting the gear away he complained. “What’s gotten into you?”

I smirked. “Remind you too much of conservatory?”

“No,” he said with enough force that I knew he meant yes.

When I looked up, Ziggy was watching us with a bemused expression. “Want to get something to eat?”

Bart looked at his watch. “I promised Michelle I’d meet her at JT’s to see Atomic Lunchbox. But I could drop you two off somewhere.”

Ziggy raised an eyebrow at me. I put a hand in my pocket. There was money there. “Sure.”


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