Gettin’ the Band Back Together

When I was about five years old, my Aunt Polly came to watch my dance class. According to legend, she took my parents aside and said, “Maybe you should get Melissa a piano.”

And so they did.

I remember sitting on the steps, waiting for my surprise to arrive. I fell asleep, and when I woke up, there was a Steinway in our dining room with a red John Thompson piano book on the music rack.

I eventually graduated to Barry Manilow sheet music, middle school and high school chorus concerts, and some pretty badass Chopin, Beethoven, and Mozart.

But what I really wanted all along was to be a rock star.

A few years ago, in defiance of my protests that I can’t play by ear or noodle or improvise and that I had zero experience in bands, my friend Peter recruited me for Peter Elliott & the Sellouts. Peter’s band was among the very few bands in town that I would stay up late to see. His songs are painfully catchy, and he’s a great singer. The idea of playing with him was terribly frexciting.

Around the same time, my amazingly talented husband started his band St. Joe’s Choir, a project he’d been talking about for, like, 15 years. The songs were coming together, he was singing and playing guitar. It was a big deal, and was a born front-man.

Suddenly, I was playing keyboards in two rock bands… geeking out about amps and cables and how to use a microphone and what to wear on stage for maximum rock star-ness.

On July 6, 2007, the stars aligned perfectly and both of my bands played what will always be an epic show for Dave and I: it was the night before our wedding and the Sellouts opened for St. Joe’s Choir. All of our favorite people in the world were at the Scoot Inn with us — and since no recordings of the show exist to contradict the notion, it was the BEST SHOW EVER.

Me and my keyboard Stella. That’s Coco behind me on the drums and
Peter reflected in the mirror. (Photo by the inimitable David Jewell.)

St. Joe’s Choir with Dena on drums, Brandon on bass,
Dan on guitar, and Dave at the helm. (David Jewell.)

But then… bands, man.

Peter got busy with his other bands, and the Sellouts went on hiatus. And even though St. Joe’s Choir had a sweet gig at the Continental Club in Houston, the band took an unintentional break as our members had other things happening in their lives: new loves, new jobs…

But this story has a happy ending (middle?!)… tonight St. Joe’s Choir is re-assembling with a new drummer (Coco!), a new guitarist (Rob!), and Dave and I in our usual spots.

Next Monday, we’ve got Peter Elliott & the Sellouts rehearsal.

The Barry Manilow songbooks are back in the cabinet, and I’m dancing behind the keyboard, practicing “Mrs. K” and “Boxcar” and “Beautiful” and “Suzette.”

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