Post 7 of 8 :: Mixing Metaphors: One Artist’s Passage from Humming Child to Singer-Songwriter Recording Artist
At an open mic at a songwriters’ conference in the Santa Cruz mountains, I played one of the few songs I had written. The moment I stood up to play, the nerves of steel that previously allowed me to get on stage without a quiver … to sing lead, play cello, play keys, play percussion, sing backup, whatever, in any combination … abandoned me.
My kneecaps do this weird thing when I get that nervous … they literally bounce up and down, complementing perfectly the shaking in my hands and voice. This was the first moment I realized that performing my own music demands a whole new level of vulnerability … and nerve. I felt like I stood up naked and asked for a spotlight, where before I always had the cover of other people’s songs. But I knew that I wanted to be a songwriter, and I also wanted to be in a band singing lead and doing the songs I wrote, and I had no idea how to make that happen. I felt like a beginner, and in many ways, I was.
The next day at lunch, I filled my plate, found a large, empty table, put down my plate, and when I returned with my drink, there was another full plate on the table … right next to mine. Turns out this audacious table-sitter who dared invade my introverted buffer was one of the most wonderful people I have met on my musical journey — Kase Reis — and she later became the bass player in the band we formed together with her sister, Sheri Luevano, as the drummer. This band became known as MapleDream.
MapleDream was an all-female, original band. We had style. We had nicknames (I was Meg). I bought and played a bitching electric guitar. We were loud, creative, fun, and brash. We had some good songs, a few not as good songs (I can say that because I wrote them), and we enjoyed an enthusiastic reception in the few gigs we played. Our time together was relatively short – only about two years – but in that time I grew. A lot.
My drive to prove myself as a songwriter saw me empty myself into the band – writing songs and arrangements, managing gigs and money, handling graphics and branding. Pouring myself out like this unfortunately left little creative space for my colleagues, and I believe this was stifling to at least one of them. I wanted the band to last for many years, but partly due to my probably overwhelming need to control it, it withered.
If I am truthful, one motivation for starting the band was that I was too scared to play my music solo, and that needed to change, so in one way the band’s dissolution was a good thing. MapleDream’s demise forced me to take full responsibility for my music, my songwriting, and my ability to perform my own music, which I would not have taken otherwise. It also led me back to Greg Newlon for some much-needed help with all aspects of my music, about which I shared a few posts ago.
I am deeply grateful for my time in MapleDream, and in the end, I have no real regrets other than wishing I could have been a better bandmate. That said, I did the best I knew to do, I gave myself fully and freely with every intention of making it last, and I got back much more than I poured in, including finally becoming a songwriter. For that, I will forever be grateful to my very patient, passionate, and immensely talented bandmates, who also poured themselves out for and into the band, and whom I still count as friends. Rock on, Kase & Sheri.
To learn more about Sheri Luevano and her passion project, Sisters on the Drums, please visit their website at sistersonthedrums.com and contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also learn more about it on their Facebook page.
My new album, THESE HANDS, is available wherever you like to buy and listen to music. Click the button below to listen to the album, and please consider a purchase if you like what you hear. Thank you!