Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Just a cover band.

Whoa man, it's been a while.

I read a post on Facebook today and I really took offense to it. I started to write a long response and then thought, well it said no offense so...I guess I'll let him have his moment with his thought. Here is his post:

No offense to any of my musician friends that play covers but only in Toledo could a Battle Of The Bands be won by a cover band. This is the equivalent of a chain restaurant winning best restaurant.

My response was: "So should I just consider myself as Applebee's?"

But I kept thinking about it...and I wanted my point to be heard also. So, I'll use this forum.

I am a cover band singer. It is really all I have aspired to do. I have attempted writing songs. I'm not very good at it. I have found that I am alright with arranging a song, but in order to do that, you need a song that is already written.

So I sing other people's songs. Does that mean I don't practice them, learn them inside and out, put my own spin on it when I can actually think of something that works? Does it mean that I don't have the same vocal talent?

In a city with several cover bands, predominantly female fronted cover bands, I have had to work my ass off to stay relevant and still get gigs. Add to that several venues that bring in bands from other cities. My band has strived to add new songs, add dance moves, pick up the older standard songs.

I can't speak for every cover band but for Noisy Neighbors it is not just an expression of music, it is a business. We are very calculated in the moves we make. We want to grow our fan base, we want to grow in the number of venues we play, and yes, we want to make more money. It is difficult. It is difficult to know what the crowd wants. It is difficult to anticipate what the next big hit from radio will be and if people will want to dance to it. We are a party band. We aim to keep the dancefloor busy. If the dancefloor is busy then they get thirsty. More drinks = more money for the bar. More money for the bar = more gigs.

I am incredibly lucky to be able to go through this journey with some of the best guys I could ask for. Bert, Doug and Jeff are my brothers. We all understand that every move matters and that we just want to be the best we can a cover band.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


Today is my Granny's birthday. She's no longer here. It's always a really difficult day for my mom. I made sure to send her a text with simply, "I love you." I made sure to listen to my "Granny song" on my way to work, twice. The song is "Go Rest High on that Mountain" by Vince Gill. I'm not really sure how I came across that song. I was probably just looking for music by Vince Gill because I love his voice so much.

Side note: In searching videos today of "Go Rest High" I came across a video of Kelly Clarkson singing it. It was nice but it didn't have the same feel. I probably would have enjoyed it more if the song didn't mean so much to me. Before Kelly started the song she mentioned that Vince Gill has a voice that is like butter and she wants to make out with it. My sentiments exactly.

Back to the story...I remember listening the song one time through and I didn't connect with the words right away, I connected with the voices. He has Patty Loveless (Queen of Harmonies) and Ricky Skaggs singing along with him. The three voices together are magic. Upon listening to it a time or two again, the words started to jump out.

"Oh, how we cried the day you left us." 
My Granny had her funeral pretty well planned out. She knew what songs she wanted played and what verses she wanted read. Granny did not have me scheduled to sing at her funeral. My aunts made me do it. They all knew how much she loved to hear me sing. My Granny was my biggest fan. Every year for Granny's birthday and Christmas, I gave her a tape of me singing karaoke. She loved it. It's all she ever wanted and sometimes she would request songs to be done. One of those songs was "Angel" by Sarah McLachlan. I remember recording it, I remember giving it to her. It was her favorite. And when she died, my aunts asked me to sing it at the funeral. I remember it like it was yesterday. The track started and I sang. I remember closing my eyes so I couldn't see everyone's face and how sad they were. I maintained composure through the whole song, because I was singing for my Granny. I remember hearing my aunts sob. The sobbing is what I remember with this line of the song.

Side note: I refuse to listen to the song "Angel" anymore. I still hear the sobs when I listen to it. I have done so twice in the past 8 years. Once when Pink sang it with Sarah McLachlan and once when Sarah Simmons performed it on The Voice.

"I wish I could see the angel's faces, when they hear your sweet voice sing."
Now, I never heard my Granny sing. I'm not quite sure that she really did. But Granny was a songwriter. She wrote many songs. A few of them were recorded by Bob White and the Candy Mountain Express, a bluegrass band. Music was a very big part of my Granny's life. I think that's where I get some of my appreciation for a great lyric.

"Go to Heaven a-shoutin' love for the Father and the Son"
Granny wasn't a church-goer, but she loved her some Jesus.

This was a lot harder to write than I thought it would be. I tried not to think about it too much and just let it flow. I can tell you the tears are flowing. I love you Granny and I miss you. I hope you can see how far I've come. Thanks for always believing in me.

Go Rest High on that Mountain

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Music on my mind and other interesting stuff

I went to the P!nk concert last week. It was fantastic. We had pretty great seats and she sounded amazing. I will admit that I was a little upset with some of the songs she chose to do for the show. She left out a few of my favorites from the new album and did a few that I don't particularly care for. She did all kinds of acrobatics including flying across the arena and over our heads. She did a few of my favorite songs, including "Family Portrait" which made me cry. I understand the turmoil of a broken family. My family broke when I was 28 years old. You would think I was old enough to handle it all and that I would understand. Instead, I'm still the girl that hopes her parents will get back together someday. Is it silly? Absolutely! My mom never appreciated my dad's humor (which is fantastic) and my dad never appreciated my mom enough to give up his vices. I get it. But I miss holidays with both my parents at the same time. Eating two dinners is not really as fun as it sounds.

Other music related news, I am REALLY geeked about the new Depeche Mode album that is coming out. I have been a fan for a long time but it was dormant for a while. This new album has renewed my love for them. I think David Gahan is not only vocally gifted but I love to watch him wiggle around the stage in his live performances. Martin Gore is a musical genius. Andy Fletcher...well...he's just there. I saw that Depeche Mode will be touring the US. I will be going...even if it is by myself.

And some personal news...I am uber excited about this summer. Not only will it be summer and awesome in itself, but my band will be playing some really cool shows. We will FINALLY be playing at Put-in-Bay! Sure it's on a Wednesday and Thursday but who frickin' cares! IT'S THE BAY!!!!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

My Vocal Journey: The Evolution of Noisy Neighbors


Bill and I met at a karaoke show I was hosting. He was looking for a singer to play acoustic with. We talked about songs we like and we set up a day for me to come over and jam. Our first day, we learned about 15 songs. Our first open mic was at Rick's Music Cafe. Rick loved us so much, he booked us to play for a night. The acoustic duo, Brewtal Honesty.

About 3 years later, we got a call from a guy that wanted to put a band together. So we decided to give it a try. The band, No Harm Done, lasted about 3 months and we played one gig. Bill and I continued to play acoustic for a little while after that but it all sort of slowed down when his son was born.

After a while, I started looking for other things to do. I saw an ad looking for a singer, so I responded. I went for my audition and was told I was in. This band would become Last Call. We played a couple of gigs at a bowling alley the drummer owned. The band broke up due to families and work obligations.

The rhythm guitar player from Last Call, Steve, and I became good friends. We decided that we wanted to form our own band. I called Bill and brought him in also. This was the beginning of what came to be Noisy Neighbors. We also went through 1694698435 lineup changes early on. Some of them were so brief, I don't remember all their names. The people that I consider the founding members are: Bill, Craig, Don, Steve and myself. These are the people that played the first big gig at Club Soda in June, 2008.

Our musical style at the time was spanning over the decades beginning in the 50's and up through the current music. We were a pretty solid band. Bill was a great guitar player and Craig had killer harmonies. It was good and I was happy to have something that was my own. Theeennnn...we started having issues. First, Steve decided that it was too much of commitment. Then, Don was playing with another band and trying to split his time. We were having to use a fill-in drummer for him (Todd). We finally decided that Don needed to be let go and Todd joined our band. Less than a month after joining, Todd decided to go back to his old band. Enter Garrett. After about two months, Todd came back to us.

Things were going well for us. We were gaining more attention. We were playing pretty regularly. However, Craig got a job in Columbus and started commuting every weekend to our gigs. It was difficult on him. Plus, it was hard to learn new songs. Craig decided it was time for him to quit the band. We were sad to lose the great harmonies he was able to provide, but we moved on. We auditioned a few guys and we ended up with Bert. Bert was chosen because his personality really seemed to fit with ours.

A few months go by and Bill decides his time is up. We panic...more specifically I panic. Bill has been with me since the beginning. How can I continue without Bill? We started looking for a replacement. We decided on Doug. Doug has played with Bert for years. More importantly, he fits in with us. He shares the same vision of what we should be. Maybe I can continue, maybe it won't be so bad without Bill.

We now arrive at the current lineup of Noisy Neighbors. With the latest lineup, came a change in musical style. Our style now is current pop music with a rock edge. We like our pop a little less bubble gum and little more metal. It's dirty. It's fun. It's in your face.

I love what we are doing now. I feel that it is exactly what I always wanted. We are doing what we do and we are doing it well. People are taking notice. It's nice to see people you don't know recommending you as a band to see. It's nice to get recognized in public as the singer for Noisy Neighbors. It's nice to be told how much "you rock." It's also nice to hear about how awesome my drummer is and how much fun they think my two guitar guys are. I love these guys like they are my brothers. I look out for them and they look out for me. Our spouses even all hang out and get along. This is the way it was supposed to be and I couldn't be happier that my vocal journey led me here. I can't wait to see where it takes us next!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

My Vocal Journey: Karaoke

The first time I ever sang karaoke was my senior year After Prom Party. I sang "One Moment in Time" by Whitney Houston. I loved it. When I was 21, I started going to a local bar for karaoke every Tuesday. My husband at the time would play pool and I would sing. I usually picked the big ballad-type songs. Some of the songs I was known for early on were, "Because You Loved Me" by Celine Dion and "Broken Wing" by Martina McBride. People liked to hear me sing. People would request songs here and there. I sang "Angel" by Sarah McLachlan one night so I could have a recording of it for my Granny.

Side story: My Granny loved to hear me sing. She was my biggest fan. Every year for her birthday and Christmas, she didn't want me to buy a gift. She wanted me to give her a tape of me singing. I'd always ask her what songs she wanted to hear. "Angel" was one of the songs.

Back to our regularly scheduled program:
So, I'm singing "Angel" and when I finish a lady walks up to me and compliments me. She then asks me if I would be willing to sing it at her father's funeral. He had just passed that day. I was floored. I had never been asked to sing a funeral. I really hadn't been to many funerals either. How was that supposed to work?!? I told her I would do it. She gave me the details. She offered to pay me. I told her she didn't need to. I went to the funeral and sang my one song. She thanked me profusely, hugged me several times and insisted I take $100. I remember how weird it felt to take her money. But at the same time I was really excited. I JUST GOT PAID TO SING!

When I said that I went every Tuesday to karaoke. I meant EVERY TUESDAY! The only times I missed were the week before and after my daughter was born...that's it! Up until now, I had sang everything in a pretty choir-type voice. That's what I had always known, so that's what I did. After a few years, I realized that they didn't really sound like that on the radio, so I wanted to change it. It all started with one song, "Sin Wagon." There was a gal that was a regular at karaoke. She sang this song one night and I fell in love with it. It's by the Dixie Chicks. I had the CD for months already but never really gave it a good listen. One day, I sat down in my living room and I was determined to learn it and sing it right. And I did. This was when I found "my" voice. Gritty, dirty and powerful.

"Sin Wagon" became MY song. People would ask me to do it every week. Even people that don't like country music! After finding my voice, I had a brand new confidence! I could tackle almost anything now.
I started entering karaoke contests. Some I won, some I placed top three. The majority of contests were popularity based. So while, I may not have won the contest, I no doubt had their attention.

Tune back in for the final installment of My Vocal Journey: The Evolution of Noisy Neighbors!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

My Vocal Journey: The Formative Years

I started choir in 7th grade. Ms. McGee was my teacher. She always commented on my perfect posture in class. I was regarded as one of the better singers here too. She would make us hold out notes and tell us they needed to sound "rich, like a hot fudge sundae." It's something I think about when I'm singing still to this day. I continued in choir in 8th grade with Mr. Carr. I was allowed a few solo lines in songs.

My freshman year of high school, I was in Women's Chorus with Mrs. Mackey. Who would become known as Ma Mackey as I went on to Concert Choir, Honors Choir and Rebelaires (the show choir). I spent at least two hours a day in her class. Add to that evening performances for Rebelaires and then also the musicals that she directed. She was my second mother. I was frequently chosen for solos. I also sang the National Anthem for several basketball games and sang at a few pep rallies too. This is where I really started to stand out from the others. I wasn't popular by any means, but people knew me because I could sing. 

I contemplated going into music for a career. I had always hoped that I would be singing along to the muzak in a store and some big name record exec would sign me right then. Of course, that didn't happen. 

Stay tuned for the next blog where I talk about my karaoke days and where that lead. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

My Vocal Journey: The Beginning

For as long as I can remember, music has been one of the most important things in my life. Even before I can remember, my parents tell me that I loved music. I was a big fan of Blondie, Pat Benatar and the song "My Sharona."

My mom said she used to sing in choir contests. My Granny wrote bluegrass songs for Bob White and the Candy Mountain Boys.

My dad always played a little guitar and keyboard. My Grandpa was a well recognized Basso Sexto player in Tejano music. When Papa died, my aunt told us the story of when Papa had to dress up like a cowboy. He had some people show up at his door and and ask him if he could play with them for a show. The act was Hank Williams. Papa dressed like a cowboy and played the show.

I don't know when I started singing. I only know when I realized I was good at it. When I was about 6 years old, my babysitter was bored and told me to sing a song to her. I sang "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star." She lit up. She told me it was really good. Then we ran down the street to her house so I could sing for her mom. When I was done singing, she gave me $0.75. It was that moment that I realized I could sing and it's what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

I was always singing around the house. My sisters didn't seem to appreciate it much. My parents bought me a microphone with a speaker for Christmas. I loved that thing and probably held it right to my sister's ear just to make her mad. I was in all the school plays. For our Christmas play, I was cast as "Wanda the Witch" and had a solo. I was pretty stellar. That then opened the door for to be in the Libbey High school production of "The King and I" when I was in 6th grade.

Stay tuned for the rest of my journey. I figured it's probably best to split it up and not write a novel in one sitting.