• Dave Monterey

Stuck Inside of Mobile

Updated: Apr 7, 2019

SONG DOG MUSIC BLOG by Dave Monterey March 24, 2019


As songwriters famously go, Bob Dylan's no slouch. Shortly after he "built a fire on main street and shot it full of holes," he opined about the proverbial debut party wherein a confidant whispers to him, "Your debutante just knows what you need, but I know what you want..."

It all seems so simple now as I look back at trying to pull things together this past week for Heartwood Crossing's debut performance at Occidental Center for the Arts. All five of us bandos wanted good weather for our friends, family and fans to be enticed to travel out through forested west county roads on a Saturday evening to see and hear the new band lay out its exciting new fare.

Not atypical for a March dawning spring, the weather kept its cards close to the warm vest all week. Rains came and went and the dang wind couldn't hold its breath. I came down with a cold on Tuesday and then Thursday marked our final dress rehearsal. We were well practiced and the energy was ebullient. I had taken my cold medicine and carried on bravely.

Then the gods seemed to smile down upon us. The sun rose Saturday morning like a new kid in school. The fresh buds and blossoms glistened in the light. This was bound to be a fabulous day for introducing Heartwood Crossing.

I took in a hearty breakfast, laid out my clothes for the performance, gathered all of my notes, and loaded the hatchback with guitars, amp, cords and more cords. Extras just in case of need.

Local radio disk jockey Doug Jayne had invited us by the studio to preview a couple of our tunes and promo the evening show. This is the same studio where we'd first met songwriter Emily Lois a few months back. It's amazing how far we'd come in arranging new songs and getting that magical harmony blend in full sync.

I noticed only that my morning time 'Johnny Cash lower than normal baritone' had clung on. No matter, we warmed up the instruments and voices then provided some fine moments of air time for Doug's show. All seemed to be going according to the great weaver's plan.

Made it out to Occidental Center for the Arts with plenty of time to haul in and set up. One by one the bandos appeared, everyone full with anticipation. We'd promised a CD of our songs with purchase of show ticket. I guess the sales had been pretty good. We were stoked.

But the first premonition of discord came as we finished up with the sound check. It was there. The wobble in the vocal note.

Everything else that should have been was in order. Mics balanced, lyric cheat sheets at the ready, finger picks a short grasp away...but I could feel an ominous tinkering from deep down in the vocal cords. When the sound man asked for one more test of my microphone I parried into the first few lines of Amazing Grace. The faltering tones left nothing to be explained. Would there be any saving for a wretch like me?

I so wanted a quick fix. We'd come so far and worked so hard not to have each of our songs and new vocal blend reach out and resonate with our premiere audience (now beginning to fill the room). All my wishes were in vain.

Fate, however, has an uncanny way of intervening. In spite of my low ebb, I should have had a little more faith. The first song in made a passable vocal harmony blend. By the third song, the lash to the larynx was clearly discernible. It became necessary to confront the inevitable dragon head-on.

Facing the audience with a bold smile and speaking as clearly as I possibly could, I set forth to conjure up a vision of local musical heavyweight Tom Waits. If Tom's gnarly vocal sense couldn't bring some gravitas to my circumstance...I don't know what. But like a pen that's run out of ink I could still do recitation. I could still pull a step of Bojangles. I could still bring a story from my heart.

The long a short of it is I had to drop a few songs from the second set and rely on Tim and Emily to shoulder the bulk of the singing burden. They rose to the occasion just like spring robins. And fellow bandos Berger, Ransford and McGee brought inspired instrumental support to the whole ensemble.

By the time we'd reached the last few tunes of this debut celebration (and before my voice receded altogether) I found a brief resurgence of form and Heartwood Crossing delivered on its promise. Hail to the moment! The band even got a rare standing "O" at the conclusion of the show. Wow!

So, there's a hook line in a new song that Tim and I had recently cooked up which seems particularly prime for serving here and now: "If you don't get what you want, don't give up on what you need."

We'll work that one up and share it with you on a brand new day.

Write on, dogs of song! Dave Monterey

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