Bad Religion at The Tabernacle

War on Women, Alkaline Trio, and Bad Religion put on amazing shows last night at The Tabernacle in Atlanta, Georgia.

My daughter stood at the front of the stage, while I lounged in my balcony chair, like a senior at the back of the bus.

She got a Bad Religion set list after the show, and I giggled at the fact the word “encore” was typed and printed.

Go Braves (haha)!

On to the next show, comrades.

A Simple, Southern Man

There is a 2018 documentary about the legendary Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd called If I Leave Here Tomorrow, which became available on Netflix last month. I hadn’t seen it yet, but having been born and raised in Alabama, I felt like I knew enough about them and the music they wrote and performed. When I finally watched the documentary (I’ve reached the halfway point twice now, and still haven’t finished it), I was able to get a little more information as it features never before seen footage and never before published stories that made me appreciate the musicians and their art that much more.

My dad was in a classic rock band called High Noon, birthed in Mobile in the 1980’s- just like yours truly. They did a lot of cover songs, as well as original tunes, even cutting an entire album called It’s About Time. They played gigs every weekend, and would invite other musicians to pick and grin with them on stage- including members of Wet Willie (Keep on Smilin’).

Many of the stories my dad likes to recollect revolve around those times- the times before the happy accident came along and complicated those visions of almost fame. One of my favorite stories to hear involving the band is- without a doubt- my dad’s all time favorite story to tell. (I’ve heard it more than twice.) It involves a stage in Mobile, Alabama, a crowd of twenty thousand people, and the song Free Bird.

Free Bird is a song that probably almost every person on the planet has heard at least in passing. Nine minutes and eight seconds of pure, raw, hard, Southern rock. High Noon played several Skynyrd covers, but on this particular night, they took a chance. Twenty thousand mostly drunk or high (likely both) long haired Southern rock ‘n’ rollers were dancing their asses off and getting wild. Mobile’s finest approached the stage to tell High Noon- “Hey, we can’t control this crowd- wrap it up so we can all go home before it gets out of control.”

“Alright, we’ll play one more and it’s over.”

After informing the crowd this would be the final song of the evening and then everybody needed to get on home, without even introducing the song, they began playing Free Bird to an already feelin’ good crowd that, upon hearing the first chord, went absolutely ballistic. They got about twenty-two minutes into it before the cops unplugged their amps, forcing them to abruptly end the best performance to their biggest crowd of their collective music career. And that was that.

Two and a half years passed and after my sister had been born, my mom had had enough of the parties and the drinking and the gigging and was ready to reprioritize. That’s when we moved five hours north. My ditch digging dad’s dreams of being a professional drummer for a Southern rock ‘n’ roll band were scrapped. He became a Deacon, and our lives completely changed. He didn’t know it at the time, but my mom would later settle in Jacksonville, Florida- the very birthplace of Ronnie Van Zant, the great Prophet and (forever, in my book) front-man of Skynyrd.

If I Leave Here Tomorrow allowed me to get a backstage pass to get to know a band I thought I knew well enough. I always appreciated their musical and writing abilities, but didn’t think too much about their views or personalities or personal lives. The documentary allowed a peak into this secret world of Skynyrd I hadn’t known before. I finally understood what my dad had been hyping my entire life. He had been desperately trying to get me on board this ship that I couldn’t be a part of first hand back in their hay day in the late ’70’s. I finally understood what he was talking about when he described the experiences in seeing them live (countless times). The crowd- the energy. The fact that a Rebel flag was the backdrop to a band playing for a crowd full of mixed races and faces. Based on the things I knew and studied in the classroom, this scene was confusing to me. I had always tried to get a picture in my head, but after seeing footage from the rock doc, I finally understood what I’d been missing my whole life. I also reflected on what (and who) I’ve been missing as of late.

The first half of the documentary more closely represents the South I know and love. When you are born of artists and musicians, you tend to gravitate to others like this. I’ve touched on this before, so if you’ve been reading, you know how important music is to my family and me. Something magical happens when you surround yourself with people like this- the diamonds in the rough who would rather quit school than give in and cut their hair to meet the school’s dumb requirements. We are the ones who fell through the cracks and landed in some trippy place, unknown to the others. We are the rebels with or without a cause, and either way- it don’t matter, we’re just here for a good time.

One thing that always bothered me about being born and raised here is that no matter how hard we try, we are misunderstood to anyone who was not born and raised here. It’s as though we’re trying to kill everyone with kindness, but instead give off an odor that says “We’ll kill you with guns if you trespass here.” This is not so for the overwhelming majority of us in Alabama. It sucks when one or two people have to go and pull the plug to a good time. But this is something I’m more aware of as time goes on.

I’d like to finish the documentary, and I probably will at some point. For now, I’ve reached the bit about Neil Young singing Southern Man and Ronnie Van Zant sitting at the edge of the swamp, writing a rebuttle in his mind, Sweet Home Alabama. I cried twice. Because I finally understood.

If I leave here tomorrow, would you still remember me?

Failed

I could not complete the thirty day song challenge. Lots of stuff going on at the moment. Schedule is keeping me from engaging online, but in that absence, I have decided to take a break from it all. I come and go in waves. I will keep writing.

Take care.

Smile

It is so hard to put my emotions into words which will convey the deepest levels of pain I have experienced in losing people I love through the years. It is equally difficult to describe the numb that comes along with masking these emotions for so long. I don’t think there is any true or proper way of grieving in all honesty, but I also think I have avoided grieving many people because I really never allowed myself to slow down and process these things.

One part of me holds on to the faith that every person I have lost (living or not) is still with me when I need them to be there, and- not only that- as the person I need them to be. A situation may arise when I’m excited and want to tell Person A as I did years ago. Another situation may cause me confusion and I need to ask for guidance from Person B. There are times I feel lost. In these moments, I think of my papa giving me step by step directions, complete with landmarks and doodles. This type of coping is applicable for many situations and feelings, whether I be completely alone in my room or at work or in a crowd of people. I always hold my people- when I knew them at their best- near to my heart.

Another part of me is so angry, and it is in this scenario when I isolate. I get so angry that I tremble and cry. I feel helpless. Life seems so unfair sometimes. It legitimately feels as though there is a curse and the reckoning began as I entered puberty. Isn’t that painful enough? No? You want me to lie in the ditch for twenty more years? Okay, then.

When you watch people you love die, leave, fall into depression, fall into drugs, fall into despair, fall into hopelessness, the most difficult thing to do is smile. But, it’s what he would have wanted.

The World I Know

One of the first bands I was into as a kid was Collective Soul. I can remember being at a Vacation Bible School (VBS) with some of my close school friends, and we sang along with the song Shine during the final singin’ and praisin’ of that week. Do I have vivid memories as early as age five but can’t tell you what I ate for lunch yesterday?

Yyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyes!

Collective Soul was one of those bands that became very popular in our area (they originate in our sister state, Georgia), but (at least I felt) especially popular in our home (my mom, grandparents, and other family are from Atlanta). But, taking it to the extreme measure, as per usual, they were E S P E C I A L L Y popular in my bedroom.

I listened to CS for hours. My grandma is the one who bought me my very first cd’s for my tenth birthday- Glenn Miller’s classics, and Collective Soul’s self titled album. I listened to both albums for hours on end (like ya do), and still to this day, I can reflect on this piece of self owned history that no government or corporation can ever take away from me and grin like a fool, or cry like a baby. (By the way, these are interchangeable.)

Collective Soul is a unique band with a unique sound with a unique front-man who has a unique voice. Nobody on earth sings like Mr. Ed Roland. I love to sing along with Ed almost as much as any other vocalist- including Tool’s Maynard J.K. (I’m not kidding.)

Ed’s song writing talents and ability to lift my spirits were incredibly important to me, for a number of reasons, and for a number of years. I could be down on my luck, then feel down in the dumps, and go to my room and listen to The World I Know and a) have a good cry, b) sing my heart out, and/or c) become inspired to take the headphones off and go play outside instead.

Isn’t this the world we all want to know?

Don’t we, as human bee-ings, have the power within us to extract the power around us and implement that power for positive change? Isn’t that what the music video for The World I Know is kinda about through one lens? We have the power to see our world in new, intelligent ways which can inspire us to (I hate to say this, but) peacefully coexist. I’ve been writing about this topic for years and years, basically ever since I blossomed out of my emo teenager poetry phase.

We can wash our faces and live in the light. Better things are possible.

This is the world I want to know.

A Girl and Her Bike

My cousin Rob is very well known in these parts as a dare devil. He is involved with extreme sports, and has many toys to play with that I will never be able to afford in this lifetime. He taught me how to ride my bike when I was just a kid, recovering from a broken spine. I was naturally a bit intimidated, but his taunting and yelling “Pedal faster!” made my legs move as fast as they could, and I maneuvered around our yard, trying my best to avoid the damn witches burr scattered all over the ground, like ticking time bombs. At any moment, my front wheel would hit one at just the right time and angle, and send my handlebars to the right or left so suddenly that I would definitely lose it and hit a tree. But that didn’t happen. I rode the bike all over the yard for hours that day.

My love of biking didn’t end there. I’ve made friends with a lot of people (yes, mostly males) who love BMX or mountain biking. I would meet up with my friend Tristan and some of his friends- one of whom is Seth Kimbrough! Omg!– and hit the streets downtown late at night and ride ’til the wee hours of the morning; the boys on their small frames, and me on my antique cruiser.

Most of the time, I’d bring headphones and listen to old classic rock. Back then, before the tornado and the legal alcohol sales hit downtown, the town would die around 8 p.m., and we would ride anywhere from 12 to 3 a.m. It felt like a time machine, just depending on which playlist I had sounding in my ears. We always had fun, and in fact, it was on one of these micro adventures that I discovered one of my favorite bands- Band of Horses.

Tristan cruised up to me and took his ear buds out and said, “Hey, listen to this. You’re gonna love it.” The Funeral introduction began, and I listened to the song all the way through. I ended up purchasing the record immediately, and each one thereafter. And yes, I shared ear buds with one of my… man buds.

Biking through the woods is a fun time, too. Two of my friends, a bike repair guy and an artist, and I biked Monte Sano Mountain trails one day. They were surprised that I kept up. I was surprised that they were surprised.

One thing I never had a lot of experience with but always wanted to try was riding a bike powered by some sort of motor. I think about mopeds a lot. I also went through a phase where I was determined that I would some day very soon purchase an actual motorcycle. Every single person who loves me objected, and so I swept it away and that phase was over.

My boyfriend, on the other hand, grew up with motorcycles and dirt bikes and four wheelers. That’s almost all he and his three brothers ever did, besides show cattle and take care of their farm and their animals. Going extremely fast and driving up and down and jumping canyons and various types of terrain was their main pastime. He has a lot of scars and stories, though. This is why I never bought a motorcycle.

Today, he brought his electric motorized bike that he assembled and powered up himself. I was finally able to get a taste of what sitting on a bike (an extremely low, mini bike) which required no peddling really feels like. What did I think about it?

Ridiculous.

So today I learned to ride a motorized bike in the same yard I learned to ride a non-motorized bike.

Happy Sunday, everyone.

Lisa’s Turtles

One of my longest running friendships is with my pal Lisa. I’ve mentioned her a couple of times here, because her presence has been so relevant to my own for just over thirty years. We grew up together as neighbors and classmates, and have worked together numerous times- whether for a common boss as baristas or as bosses of our own as photographers and designers.

Lisa is a fashion designer at heart. She was always visually creative- holding a degree in Visual Communications- and very conscious of her clothing choices. In school, she was voted Most Fashionable, and this characteristic spilled over into her many professional ventures as an adult, with her latest pursuit being metalsmithing and jewelry design.

She came up with an idea recently and, knowing my passion for creative writing, asked if I would be interested in helping her market her new lines for her jewelry business. I agreed without hesitation, and we immediately began swapping ideas. This is where thirty years of friendship conquer the sixty miles currently between us.

About a week prior to our conversation, I bought and had been reading an Encyclopedia of Spirits. There is no real rhyme or reason, other than just general intrigue of the subject. It is certainly an interesting book. Lisa was unaware of this, but her initial idea for my writing project would be to write about spirit folklore and various characters which would be representative of each unique collection.

She showed me her newest collection, and the pieces accidentally resemble beautiful turtles. When you create things from nature, they tend to resemble other things in nature, so it makes sense. I pondered for a quick moment and turned to my Encyclopedia of Spirits and checked the index for turtles. There, I found Chelone. What I read was absolutely perfect.

I sent her the description of the spirit and asked if she would like to use it, and she agreed that it was a perfect fit. Within a very busy week (work, band practice, football game, Fair Parade, band exhibition… *gasps for air*), I sat down, and I wrote. It took me all of thirty minutes to write the following:

When I sent this to Lisa, she said- and I quote- “I freakin’ love it!”

When I write, I draw inspiration from anything and everything I possibly can. It is very personal. All I want is to share, learn, grow, and share some more. That is why I write.

Sometimes, I wish I could be more fashion conscious rather than seeing through that lens that tends to focus more on problems. But, this project helped reiterate the importance of speaking your mind as well as remaining silent. There are always times when either is the appropriate choice. There are also healthier methods of implementing each practice.

What do you want to say?

How do you know when to hush?

These are the things I am pondering.

Dreamers

It is my personal core belief that every human born into this world has the privilege of knowing the same level of joy on any given sunshiny day as a blonde, teenaged girl wearing an American flag bikini, riding on a jet ski at beautiful, man-made Lewis Smith Lake.

Until then, may you prosper and take care of each other inside the makeshift gates surrounding your perfect lines of mildewed trailers.

May your churches and buildings of faith not rot down because the only land you could afford sits beside our water treatment plants.

I pray we all know a common ground, in that (surely by now), we all personally know and love a meth head.

When will it end? Nobody knows, that is the truth. Anybody saying otherwise is a damned liar.