This one’s for you BBK
Some fun nights at Cantrell’s, yes?
My mother was a real life Gidget. She grew up on the beach in Southern California in the 50s/early 60s. She was president of her high school’s girls’ surf club, and she dated Al Jardine of the Beach Boys. She was a member of a band, The Dell-Coeds, that had a West Coast top 10 single in 1963. Her band even opened for Ike & Tina at The Cow Palace.
The Dell-Coeds – That’s my mama, Susan Anderson, first girl in the line-up – standing directly to the left of the grinning guy in the white sweater.
She spent the summer of 1965 hanging around the Whisky A Go Go on Sunset Strip, crushing on two mostly unknown bands: Love and The Doors. She became good pals with the guys from Love that summer, and one of her friends ended up dating lead singer, Arthur Lee.
My mother has spoken of the Love fellas very fondly over the years. So I was interested to learn the other day that one of my fave singers of all time, Maria McKee, is the 18-years-younger sister of Bryan MacLean, another Love bandmember. When I was in high school (1981-1985), I so wanted to be Maria McKee. Lone Justice was my favorite band, and I tried to adopt her cowpunk aesthetic – wearing my lace gloves, Depression era dresses and cowboy boots.
I hung around Cat’s Records and Cantrell’s in Nashville, falling in love every night with the guys in Jason and the Nashville Scorchers and The White Animals I made weekend road trips before I was legal to drive myself down to Athens, GA to see Love Tractor, Pylon and a very, very young REM (Peter Buck once went and got me a plastic cup of cheap beer from the keg in that run down church where the afterparty happened)
I tried to pick up WRVU from 50 miles away, in Bell Buckle. The later at night it got, the better I could pick it up. I danced in parking lots. I fell in and out of love. I had a lot of fun.
1983 – Nashville New Wave – Local TV News Series I was 15 Years old, and I recognize (or dated) about half of these people
(Best quote in this segment: “They’re called ‘The Replacements.’ Some call it ‘punk,’ we call it loud.”)
My parents understood; after all, my mother had done the same thing. When I moved to Knoxville in 1986 to attend college, I was bummed to leave Nashville, but pretty thrilled to discover that I’d accidentally landed right in the middle of one of the south’s most interesting 80s’s indie music scenes. I spent my late teens and early 20s living in a series of dilapidated but charming houses in the Fort Sanders neighborhood, falling in and out of love with a succession of would be rockstars. I worked at the record store on campus, followed by a stint as a waitress/doorperson at a fantastic club called Ella Guru’s owned by the now rather well-known Ashley Capps, so I had plenty of opportunities to meet and become infatuated with musicians.
Looking back, I see that those were the best of times and the worst of times. But I wouldn’t trade my youth full of late nights, jangly guitar and exasperating boys for anything. There are a few of my former band boyfriends I’d rather forget, but there are quite a few more with whom I remain friends to this day. And then I mostly grew up. Mostly
I guess I inherited the grrl groupie gene from my mama.
Photo above: that’s me, circa 1987. Note unfortunate, brassy orange haircolor. It looks like I was about to put on my favorite Specials LP. (I still love me some “Message to You Rudy.”) I liked that record player because it had its own built-in cassette drawer (see it there, next to my knee?) which was a great place to store all the mixed CDs boys with guitars made for me during the courtship phase. Then, after they broke my heart, I would still listen to the mix tapes they had made me, and feel all angsty and poetic, a la John Cusack in “High Fidelity.”
It will be interesting to see whether any of my 3 daughters takes the love of boys-with-guitars into yet another generation when they hit full-on adolescence. If they do, I’ll tell them, just as my mother told me, that the boys in the band are great for fun when you are young, but not such a great bet for the relationship longhaul. (Knoxville’s own long and happily married powerpop god Tim Lee being a notable exception to this rule). I’ll tell my girls that boys in bands get restless and bored easily. That’s probably a gene, too.
But anyway, here’s some vintage Maria McKee/Lone Justice for your listening pleasure. And she’s even better now as a solo artist than she was a 19 year old prodigy.
So how about y’all? Any other wannabe grrl groupies amongst you? What music scene? What bands? What boy guitarist crushes? Tell me about it in the comments.