By Dom Cioffi
Back in college, one of my roommates was in a band that became fairly popular around campus. They played gigs throughout our four-year tenure and enjoyed a loyal following among students.
By default, I became a roadie, helping to carry amps and equipment to get things going while also tearing down after the shows ended. My reward was that I was allowed to sit backstage where it was less crowded. Occasionally, I also got to sing backup once everyone was sufficiently drunk.
It was because of this roommate that I started to seriously play guitar. I envied his abilities and was jealous that he got to experience that performance high (I’m guessing the attention from female audience members was also an allure).
After college and into my first apartment, I always made sure to devote a corner of a room to musical equipment. At first that was simply a second-hand guitar, but over the years it blossomed into more and better guitars as well as keyboards, a mixing console, monitors, speakers, and a variety of accompaniment instruments.
By the time I made it into my first house, I had to devote an entire room to this passion.
Over the years, my interest in playing would wax and wane (usually related to the seasons), but it never totally dissipated. During the cold winter months, I would play most every night, but as summer descended, I found myself wanting to be outside more often.
The only thing I lacked in my music room was a drum kit. Drums always intrigued me, but I never learned to play. But I used to fantasize that maybe one day I would have a child who would learn drums and then I would have a built-in percussion section.
And wouldn’t you know it… by chance, my son is a drummer!
Okay, so I definitely encouraged him to start playing drums, but I would have never pushed it had he not taken to it so well. As it happens, my son is an extremely good drummer for his age.
Ever since he was a little boy we’ve talked about music whenever we’re in the car. I quiz him relentlessly about what bands are playing, while pointing out unique attributes found within particular songs. At this point, he’s an incredibly well-versed teenager when it comes to classic rock n’ roll (which warms my heart beyond description).
What started out as tapping beats on the dashboard eventually led to us borrowing a starter drum kit from a family member. He liked the idea so we got him some lessons. And while he had to be pushed to practice, his propensity for the instrument showed rather quickly.
Soon enough he was accompanying me on songs in our little studio above the garage. I can tell you that nothing brings me more joy than to jam with my own son and seeing him smile as we rip through a song.
Eventually we got him involved with some other kids in a rock band program. He took to this quickly and before long was performing on stage with his friends during open mic shows. I can attest that seeing your kid perform under that scenario is a pure adrenaline rush.
Luckily, my son has two cousins who live nearby who play guitar and bass. On weekends during the summer break they’ve been getting together to play. I set them up and make sure the sound is right, then leave to listen from downstairs. They will then spend a couple hours jamming to Nirvana, Green Day and a few other grunge-ish bands.
But we’ve reached a new threshold recently. Last week, a few of the girls that perform in their rock band school asked to come over to our house to join them. My son has never showed much interest in girls, much less had one come over to the house. But all that will change this Saturday when three teenage girls will join three teenage boys in the studio above my garage.
Stay tuned for details…
This week’s film, “ Mile 22 ,” stars Mark Wahlberg as a CIA operative who must lead a small paramilitary team on a mission to transport a foreign intelligence officer to a safe relocation – 22 miles away. There are no teenagers or musical instruments involved in this film – but it might have been better had there been.
I’ve always said that Mark Wahlberg is good at some things, but other times his portrayals just don’t connect. This was one of those times. “ Mile 22 ” is disjointed and abrupt in its storytelling and devoid of the kind of emotional content necessary to make you care. This is simply a bullet-riddled action thriller that’s sparse on the action and thrills.
A haphazard “D+” for “ Mile 22 .”
Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at [email protected]