"What are you doing?" I screeched as I watched Andrew yank the tuning pegs on my guitar around and around, strumming the detuned string as he went with his thumb. The guitar sounded like it was dying a slow agonizing death. "I'm tuning your guitar to 'open E' ", he replied calmly, not at all deterred by the painful expression on my face. "See? Now all you have to do is strum the guitar and hold down one of these two top strings, or both, and you're playing like a pro!" His stupid grin only made me more aggravated. "Give me that!" I started to move my index finger around on the low E string, Dave Mathews style, and realized that Andrew, much to my surprise, held wisdom beyond his years. Thanks for that Andrew, now there's the front door, I'll take it from here.
Open E, the tool that guided my first few songs, the catalyst that paved the way for my future guitar playing. If you've ever played in Open E, you'll notice it is a very sad tuning, perfect for my general disposition back in high school. Also, perfect for my playing level at that time: zero!
From there every memory flew by in a musical blur. I believe that in many situations ignorance and naiveté are a blessing, because you don't know how difficult things are really going to be, and if you don't know how difficult they are going to be, you aren't afraid to try in the first place. This is the reason my father is such a great business man. I've never known him to ever be scared of potential failure, and in the beginning, I wasn't afraid of failure either.
I wrote a few songs, thought they they were fantastic and didn't need a single adjustment, proudly showed them to my parents who showered me with praise. Their encouragement helped me find the confidence to form the first band: "Jade Harbor", formally known as Altamyra, named after the Greek God Athena's forgotten daughter. That's a lie. We named our band after our street name, o.k.?
But you see, if I decided to start a band now, I would never be able to do it like I did back then. I would never think I was ready enough. I don't have enough songs. The songs I do have aren't good enough. They will never measure up. I would come up with a million excuses…because I know better.
I know that succeeding as a musician, as a band, is no small mountain to climb. I know the obstacles. I know where the cracks in the cliff are, the spot where the blizzard hits, the section of the cliff barely hanging on with loose stones. I know to bring extra water, more batteries, dehydrated dinners. And I still know, that even knowing all the pitfalls and preparing for all the disasters, still doesn't guarantee that I'll make it to the top.
But back then... Hell, I thought that our band headed toward stardom, I'm talking "U2 status" in under a week!
Our lead guitarist, a very talented man, soberly listened to the song ideas of a quacky teenage girl, and accepted them no questions asked. (Dia, you ought to be more like him. I'm kidding!) He always stood passively in a corner during performances and practice, happy to play his colorful, tasteful arpeggios on top of my simple chords. You could have wrecked his car right in front of him and he wouldn't bat an eyelash, in fact, in typical Juddy fashion, he'd probably make a really intelligent joke about how his battered vehicle looked like a bat late for a dinner party er.. something, and we would have laughed all night.
The charming bass player had a very convincing "Tom Sawyer-esque" quality about him. You'd be talking to him over lunch one day, and the next thing you know, you're begging him to let you clean and fold his dirty laundry. Don't ask me how it happens. It's dangerous to have one of those guys in your band don't you think? But, the girls loved him, and every band needs one of those guys, I suppose...
Sunny, kind-hearted, compassionate, would never hurt a fly. Funny, the only time you would ever see Sunny aggressive happened behind the drum set, and once the song ceased to be, the serene expression returns to his face and you could chat with him stoically about world peace over a cup of tea served with English crumpets.
The first band Dia and I started spoiled us silly. Great musicians. Amazing memories sharing entire bags of crispy bean burritos and apple empanadas after band practice. I loved them very much, wish we would have stayed in touch. This time spent with them was the calm before the storm…