By Chris Gowland
It’s summer, so who wants to be inside recording? It’s time to play outdoor shows and festivals, so I’m giving the tech-talk a break and will be offering up a play-by-play of The Cranks’ summer activities and travels. That translates to 14 band gigs, a dozen solo acoustic shows each for my twins Haley and Connor and Cranks bassist and Alex, lots of practices, and maybe a video.
Rising Seniors: Oh, and did I neglect to mention, this is the summer when my kids (rising seniors) are evidently supposed to figure out what college to they want to attend. Whaaaaa? Who makes these rules anyway? True, I just wanna bang on the drum all day and want my kids to do that too, but I’m hedging my bets. Now, and scientifically never proven possible, I embark upon a summer where I will meld a nose-to-the-grindstone college search with an “I wanna rock and roll all night and party every day’ attitude. They go together like peanut butter and oysters.
Before the graduation caps thrown from the heads of seniors hit the ground at commencement, The Cranks had played 3 gigs over a single June weekend including a 1st place winning set at the Westford Apple Blossom Battle of Bands. That should have been a warning for the coming roller coaster ride. Haley also played her first solo acoustic gig of the season at an outdoor tiki bar. I made a note in my gig journal, as any parent would, that this was when she first discovered the benefits of performing where alcohol is served. Tips from a few ‘well served’ patrons were particularly generous that night.
The Rockin Ribfest: They went on to an annual teen band competition at The Rockin Ribfest in Merrimack, NH. They didn’t win, but ate some amazing ribs, made some new fans, and coming off stage were approached someone with, let’s just say, a bit more clout in the industry than myself. There was exciting talk of contacts and connections and the band having that “something unique”, and then an exchange of business cards (mine says “Cranks Manager” – am I cool?). I was pumped! Now, I’m at day 4 of waiting for him to e-mail me back. (Not so pumped). So if you’re reading this…and you know who you are – call me! The roller coaster continues.
Pizza for lunch: The next stop was a battle in Worcester, MA. We arrived before lunch for load-in so I set out for band food – pizza, of course. Stepping back into the dungeon dark club from the blinding sun, a figure approached me with an outstretched hand, offering money! I thought “OK, this time its real, this guy wants to sign the band…or at least buy a CD…or something good”. Then he asked what he owed me for the pizza he had ordered. The roller coaster derailed. My kids’ friends got a big laugh at my expense but I swear, had I played it right, I’m pretty sure he would have given me a big tip.
I would share the details of the college visits that took place in between gigs, but booking hotels is just plain boring and the details of my patented luggage packing algorithms are proprietary and confidential. Further, and most importantly, I can’t let my guard down on my nose-to-the-grindstone parental character so I’ll just say to my kids: “college decisions are nothing to make light humor about. Now get back to that SAT prep course book!”
Did that sound believable? Too much? Do you think the kids buy it?
Chris Gowland is the owner of Highwire Recording and the parent of two members of the high school band The Cranks, managing and producing them since their start in 2006. Chris’ work with the band has been an archetype of an indie band do-it-yourself success model - developing their online presence, distribution, producing and publishing two CD’s, and booking nearly 100 gigs for them to date. He has organized and run sound for benefits, band showcases, battles and jams for teen bands in and around Dunstable, MA, creating events for young musicians to perform.