(My eldest spawn, CouchTeen, sits in with this short essay he wrote for a very cool music contest. I will be sure to let you know if he wins. Since I spent about an hour digging through old photos for him, I figured it could also stand in for me here today, so I can eat dinner or something. Enjoy!)

I've been struggling to decide which of my music memories to write about, but I'm simply going to go with the most meaningful one, which was the first rock concert I ever attended and the experience that hooked me in ever since.

I was 8 years old and I had made the flight from Colorado to Massachusetts with my mother to go see Dave Davies, former lead guitarist of The Kinks (You Really Got Me, Waterloo Sunset, Sunny Afternoon, Lola, etc.) who was performing at the Sit n' Bull Pub in Maynard with his band. I guess you could say that the Kinks were the first band that I really loved. My mom, who has had her photographs of the Kinks on some of their albums and books about them, played the band’s music often as I was growing up. The Kinks, outside of the Beatles, were pretty much the only band that I knew the lyrics to their songs, knew what they looked like, and I would proudly wear shirts with their logo on them to elementary school. Needless to say, I was very excited for this show, but there was one problem: it was restricted to fans 21 years old and over.

Now, bringing a little kid into a rock club around a bunch of crazy New Englanders probably is prohibited for good reason, but sure enough my mother had convinced the very nice owner of the club (also a big Kinks fan) to let me see the show. So, Gameboy in hand, I jumped into the car and off we drove from our family friend Doug’s house to the club. As soon as we parked I spotted the marquee with Dave’s name on it. "Whoa!" I thought to myself, "This is gonna be so cool!” The doors opened and we found a table close to the stage and I played Pokemon while we waited for our food before the show. I got to see the stage set up, lights, soundboard, and roadies check all the instruments. "Is this the band?" I asked my mom. "No, these are the guys who make sure that everything is working right, you'll know when Dave is coming on," she replied. Occasionally I'd hear a guitar riff that I'd remember from a song and spin my head around to see if the band was getting on but, alas, it was a guitar tech.

It seemed like a very long time to wait in the cramped dark bar, but I kept busy with my peanut butter and jelly sandwich, Gameboy, and talking with lots of my mom’s old Kinks friends. Finally, out came the band. Everyone was cheering, yelling, screaming, "Dave! Dave! Dave!" as the band came on to grab their respective instruments and then the man himself came up to the mic, "Hello!" he shouted and the entire place erupted. I had never experienced anything like this, the energy, the commotion, the noise; it was somewhat shocking but in the best way possible. "That's Dave!" I shouted at the top of my lungs, as if anyone could hear me. That was the guy who I had seen on albums, in my mom’s old film photos, on VCR recordings of television appearances, and I couldn't believe he was real. The Kinks and Dave seemed like these entities that existed only in song, or if they were real they must be too busy in their mansions diving into pools of gold like Scrooge McDuck. Wow.

The band started playing and Dave started singing, the same songs I'd been hearing growing up, everyone around me singing the lyrics to them word by word along with him. I knew some of the songs but was too shy to start belting out the tunes, but the woman next to me who bore an uncanny resemblance Bette Midler sung loud enough for the both of us. For the first few songs I was mashing my head in-between people trying to get the right angle to see the band and Dave through arms, waists, legs, and heads in excitement and frustration. Eventually my mom’s friend Jason caught sight of me and picked me up and put me on his shoulders just as the song "Lola" was starting so I could get a better view. Jason was huge; I mean, he was a big, not-in-shape bro, so after about five minutes of dancing with me on his shoulders and me clapping along, I think I might had given him a small heart attack as he let me down after the song was over and stumbled around, sweat beads dripping from his head. This was amazing, this was the best experience of my life, and I danced around without a care. My shyness went away, and I was singing the rest of the songs even if I didn't know all the words.

It must have been around 1AM when the band finished playing. It was way way past my bedtime, but I was wired. This was the most incredible feeling in the world: I had just danced and sung while listening to my favorite songs with a bunch of strangers in the dead of night, and I was grinning from ear to ear. We stuck around for a bit and waited for people to leave the club. I had no idea why we were doing this so I just figured it was something that my mom and her friends would always do. After awhile someone came up to our little group and said, "Hey, you guys can go back now." Go where? Was she telling us to go home? I just followed my mom as we walked down some stairs (I think; some of this is hard to recall now!) and back into a room with a table filled with food and...whoa, there was Dave Davies! "Marianne, Doug!" he said as we walked in and Dave gave my mom a hug and a kiss on the cheek. I stood speechless, my shyness returned, then he looked at me, "Someone get this guy a beer, he must have just turned 21!" and everyone laughed. My first instinct was, uh oh, am I in trouble for being here because I'm not 21?! I looked at my mom and she was laughing, and then Dave came over and shook me by the shoulders and asked how I liked the show. "Amazing!" was all I could muster. "It was great to see you out there!” he responded and ruffled my hair before he turned his attention to my mom and her friends and others to chat about what I can only assume were memories of the good old days that were not meant for my ears as my mom directed me towards one of the food tables.

The other members of Dave’s band saw me mowing through the food and laughed. They all asked me if I liked the show and how old I was. Everyone was being so friendly to me and I felt strangely at home amongst all these musicians and older guys, but I was still 8 years old and in front of me was a plate full of brownies calling my name. I proceeded to decimate the entire plate of brownies, and play-fought with the band over the cheese and crackers. After a short while I sat down next to Jason and talked about the show with him, my favorite songs, how much I knew about The Kinks, trying to impress him by knowing the names of songs and the country the band was from. I'd never been happier in my short little life. This was surreal.

Eventually everyone was getting ready to go, the band's stuff was all packed up, my mom and her friends had talked with Dave awhile and she said it was about time that I get to bed. "No, Mom, I'm not even sleepy!" I exclaimed, trying not to seem lame in front of the band, but no matter how cool I was hangin' out backstage after the show, I was still governed over by the iron fist of my mother and we said our goodbyes. Dave told me to come around to the next show and that I was a cool little guy, shook my hand, and was off. I was ecstatic. As soon as we got in the car I asked my mom, "Did you hear what Dave said? He said I was cool!" “Yes, I heard,” she said, smiling a Mom-smile at me. Sure enough, it couldn't have been five minutes more before I was out cold, and slept in the back of the car the whole way back to Doug’s house.

Ever since that night, my love for music and live performance has grown. I started spending all my allowance on CDs, begged my mom to go to more shows, and wrote music reviews in my journal assignments for my teachers, doing book reports on the autobiographies of Dave and Ray Davies, Robert Plant, Slick Rick and many more. I attribute a lot of where I'm trying to go in the world to that night as an 8 year old kid rocking out in a bar ‘til 3AM and meeting one of my heroes. If and when the day comes that I become a successful music writer, Dave is going to be the first person I contact, if only to ask if he really did think I was cool, to apologize for eating all his brownies, and to tell him that he's the reason I want to be part of the music industry today.

Dave Davies Interview