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road to rock stardom

Tammy Moore photo: stern(A funny thing happened on) The Road To Rock Stardom
By Tammy Moore

I was supposed to be famous by now. Actually, I wasn’t supposed to be famous, but I was supposed to be managing famous bands by now and reveling in music success. That was the plan ten years ago when I began managing my first band. Within three years, we actually got all the way to the point where no less than three major labels were knocking on our door. But the bass player screwed the guitar player’s girlfriend, and the lead singer was worried that he’d be labeled a grunge movement copycat (even though he was tapped into consciousness and playing grunge here long before anyone had ever heard of Nirvana). So he used that incident as an excuse to jump ship and disband the band. That was a lot of hard work down the freakin’ drain. I cried a lot that year. True story. Bittersweet story.

Then I went on to manage other bands. From eclectic rock and alternarock to punk and hardcore metal acts, the bands I worked with were good. That wasn’t the problem…there was always some weird dynamic simmering beneath the surface within the bands, and we would do all this work…and KAPLOW!!!! Some bullshit would happen, and then it was all over. Oh, I’m sorry. It must be holiday depression creeping up on me.

%$#@ that. That was then. This is now, and I LOVE MY LIFE. I’m the mother of the coolest child that I’m quite sure has graced this planet in a long time. He sports Ramones and Metallica T-shirts at the ripe old age of three, and we already rock out together while the stereo blasts our favorite tunes. He always gets to be the guitar player, and I always have to be the rowdy drummer or the singer. He can’t make the ‘s’ sound yet, so he tells me that when he grows up, he’s going to be a “wawk tar.” That’s “rock star” for those of you who need translation for baby language. And it suits me fine.

The spirit of rock music chose me when I was a wee little lass and I could hear Led Zeppelin and Golden Earring blasting from my teenage uncle’s bedroom. It has never let me go, and my pursuit of it has taken me everywhere I’ve gone in life. It would be only fitting for me to be the mother of a wawk tar.

I have parents and a brother that I’m crazy about who double as my best friends. I have great friends…some who never cease to entertain me with the drama that is their lives, and some who are amazing creatures that teach me how to cope with life through the example they set in their day to day living. The same artist who bailed on those recording deals years ago, but who I’ve never stopped believing in because he is one of those rare birds with the ability to reinvent himself and his music again and again, called me up a few weeks ago and asked me to come check out his new band at Flamingo Cantina. I went and was blown away when they finally took the stage to serve up a musical force reminiscent of early U2 and Simply Red. By that I mean, the early work that was so raw with electric energy that, in listening to it, one just sensed that they were destined for greatness. I would tell you this band’s name, but true to form, they don’t have one yet. That was more of a practice gig, and it is of no matter anyway as everyone will know their name soon enough. And they’ve asked me to book a few gigs for them. That’s how these things always start.

The point is that I’m happy again. For all the disappointment I felt at not having “arrived” to the place I thought I should be by now, there are new opportunities all around me. These days I get to interview rock stars sometimes. I get to interview people that have succeeded behind the scenes in music a lot and in doing so, continue to educate myself on this business of music. And I’m an official staff writer for Rank and Revue – The Red River Review Magazine. Sure it’s a small little rag that appeals primarily to the sub-culture, and there is barely more than a handful of industry pros in this town that are even aware of our existence at this point (though most of the ones that do know of us really dig what we do here). But being part of this rocks, and with 2003 coming to a close, I’ve decided to use my last column to shed some light on my experience thus far with Rank and Revue.

I remember vividly the day my life took this unexpected turn when Wendy WWAD walked up to me at a club and asked when I was going to come and write for the mag. She happened to be in the company of one Brenna Parthemore, publisher and owner of the original thought that eventually unfolded and became Rank and Revue. As fate or divine intervention might have it, it just so happened that I had an original thought of my own that had been floating around in my head when WWAD approached me—writing a column profiling people that work behind the scenes in the music industry.

Having gone through the ranks myself, I knew there was so much mystery concerning the rock biz, and I knew that most musicians out there really needed some sort of educational tool. Many artists get caught up in the seductive allure of the rock star life and sign contracts and agreements without totally understanding what they’re getting into. Also, I had read once that most of the people that work behind the scenes in music were once aspiring artists themselves and, for whatever reason, had decided to take a different path and work behind other artists. I, myself, was never actually in a band, but as a kid growing up, I wreaked havoc in front of my bedroom mirror. My hairbrush was my microphone, and while I sang along with Kansas, Alice Cooper and Judas Priest, I was performing to throngs of people. I’m sure I just told you too much there, but I’m giddy with thoughts of Rudolph right now and just don’t care. Besides, it helped mold me into a great playmate for my son to take along on his journeys into fantasy land.

So, back to Rank and Revue. I pitched my idea to Brenna and Wendy that night, and they liked it and offered me a full page on the spot. A few days later, I showed up for my first writer’s meeting and remember feeling a sense of awe at the sight of my wonderfully funky new rock and roll comrades. I suppose I could call it an organization, but it isn’t. It’s a real motley crew of mostly educated, opinionated, free-thinking radicals who believe in what we do here, and it is that faith and the hard work of everyone on the staff that enables this not-for-profit (yet) mag to be published every two weeks.

Forgive me if I gush, but I’m impressed with my peeps here at Rank and Revue, and my gift to them this Xmas is to let them all know it. Oh, they’ll roll their eyes and say things like, “You’re such a queer.” But again, it’s Christmas, I’m giddy, and I just don’t care. Besides, sometimes it’s all right to know that someone “sees” you.

It’s hard not to be impressed with people devoting so much of their time to the creation and production of this little print jewel. Like Chad Holt, who I know busts his ass to bring advertising dollars in to keep us afloat financially, and who, as far as I know, single-handedly distributes each and every issue we put out. He somehow keeps his sense of humor in the midst of it all and writes his hysterically funny column for every issue. Like Larry Stern, who keeps a camera on him at all times and creates the visual landscape that our readers have come to love. He’s one of those guys who can store and file tons of information in his head. So when editors are out of town or editors quit, we all gravitate to him, and he makes sure things get handled. He doesn’t always like it but he does it. And what about Brian Clarkson, Jonathan McPhail, and Beau Been? I owe them thanks for being willing to drive to whatever music biz location I’ve needed them to go to and shoot pictures of my subjects, not to mention the great shots they deliver from Elysium and all the shows we cover, on the street and off. Then I have to mention how cool it is to be in the company of some of our great male writers. I love to pick up a copy of each new issue and see what Bryan Smith, Trevor Wallace, Kevin Stack, James Marquadt, Christopher Head or Slander Bob have to say. They paint vivid pictures with their words. They make me laugh. They do their jobs to entice me to listen or not to any given artist. And they are nice guys to boot…at least they appear to be. No ego problems here. Oh, and don’t feel left out, Shutter-Bugg. You are just as impressive. Unfortunately, my relationship with you has taken place strictly over the telephone, and I find out recently that may be because you aren’t supposed to be in the same room with another staffer. But that’s another story, right?

We have layout people who we create migrane headaches for every other week without fail, and yet Steve Landry, Gretchen Von Eberstein, Erica Nix, Nicky Tavares, and my personal fave, Matt Richardson, continue to devote their time and talents to creating this magazine that tops itself imaginatively almost every issue. I’m very sure you aren’t told enough how much you are appreciated.

Finally, there are the women of Rank and Revue. Is there anything sexier in the world than strong-willed, powerful, gorgeous females that rock in their lives, their jobs, the pursuit of their dreams, as hard as any man you would put them up against? We have a full crew of them on our staff, and they are each a sight to behold in their own way. I am continually impressed by the abilities and dedication of our alpha-females, Brenna Parthemore and Wendy WWAD. They have found a niche in the creation of Rank and Revue and are driving that dream, full throttle of course, straight into the sun. And they do it with the help of one Scarlot Harlot. That would be Ms. Beth Sams to you, our oh-so-punky web mistress, organizer of our calender, and in-house cheerleader. There is Joelle Bart, creator of the centerfolds that always bring a new edginess to each issue. And where would we be without the beloved Corri Mava and metal-maven, San Francisco-transplant Beky Hayes whose colorful written stylings never cease to entertain? And finally, there are the quiet ones…Misty Sweet and Jennifer Pollack, quiet, sure, but ALWAYS reliable. And you know what they say about the quiet ones anyway. These bitches are all badasses and they inspire me!

Yes, I like it here. Detours happen on the road to rock stardom, and I am loving this one. I’ll be kicking off the new year by interviewing David Dickenson, A & R rep for Hamstein Publishing. If you have questions or comments concerning the music business, contact me at triviatamrocks@aol.com, and I will interview some pro that can provide you with answers. Ho Ho Ho! to all the crew at Rank and Revue, and the same to all of you. Keep reaching for the dream.

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