Sunday, June 17, 2007

Music alone shall live never to die.

Extracts from
The Boys in the Band Are in AARP
By Katie Hafner for the New York Times, June 17, 2007

The classic American midlife crisis has found a new outlet: garage-band rock 'n' roll.

With one son at college and Darren, 17, finishing high school next year, Mr. Reis said he can think of no better way to spend middle age. "What do other people do?" he asked, as if only vaguely aware of his other options, none of which appeal to him in the least. "A fancy car? An affair?"

NAMM, a trade group that represents music retailers and equipment manufacturers, has noticed the increasing numbers of middle-aged rockers, and now oversees what it calls the Weekend Warriors program, a six-weekend series designed specifically for baby boomers to get back into playing in a band — or start playing in one. The program brings would-be rockers into music stores around the country and provides gear, rehearsal space, coaches and, for those in need, additional band members.

Mr. Lamond said the program has burgeoned in recent years, as the rock 'n' rollers of the '60s and '70s become empty nesters with time and disposable income on their hands.

Part of recapturing lost innocence means laboring under an illusion or two. Mr. Lamond recommends that the practice rooms be free of mirrors. "You don't want to be playing your guitar, feeling like you're 20 all over again, then look in a mirror and see some paunchy balding guy," Mr. Lamond said.

There are a few advantages to being an aging rocker. For all its attendant angst, midlife can be a surprisingly stable platform from which to play out. Instead of smashing a guitar onstage, you're more likely to forget your reading glasses.

"There's no drama," said Carol Cheney, 43, a nurse who moonlights as a singer in Alter Ego, a seven-piece band in the Boston area composed of middle-aged parents. "We're all at the crest of our life. Everyone is settled. We're just very comfortable with each other."

And it's easier to afford decent equipment. Alter Ego, for instance, practices at the large suburban home of one of the members, a successful insurance executive whose spacious basement is outfitted with copious amounts of professional-quality amps, mixing boards and mics.

"Credit cards and old stock options help make up for all the cool toys we did without when we were young," Mr. Lynd said. "Tuners, effects pedals, multiple axes, stands that cost more than my first car."

Then there is the general improvement in the realm of logistical skills. "When I was a teenager in a band, nobody had his act together," Mr. Lynd said. "Bookings were always botched. You only realized the band stuff didn't fit in the station wagon when you were already late."

By and large, the children of the band members, some in bands of their own, approach their parents' newfound passion with surprising equanimity. "Every single one of our kids thinks it's very cool," said Ms. Cheney, whose band plays many of its own compositions. "They actually like the music we do."


At 2:22 PM, Anonymous susanlynn said...

Rock on, Dudes !!


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