Technically, summer ends on September 22. But, in my brain, once September 1rst hits, we are in the fall season. I don’t know what the autumn future holds. Hopefully, lots of gigs and campfires, and cups of coffee, pumpkin spice or otherwise. Nope, I don’t know what Fall 2021 will bring, but I do know what happened for BFTB in Summer of 2021. Let me fill you in.
Let’s go back to May. It’s starting to get warm out. Warm enough for outdoor gigs! Very exciting time. Our calendars looked a little bleak. I wasn’t sure if it was the right thing to do to contact venues yet. After all, they took quite a hit over the last year. Are they still open? Can they afford live music? Are they allowed to have live music? If you remember, it was a little tricky to keep up with the ever-changing restrictions. So, there I was trying to be respectful and patient, when social media showed me that alllll these places were booking! Hooray! Time to book. Oh NO! Am I too late? Everyone has already filled their dates with…dun dun dunnnn…other bands! At least that’s how it felt. But, you know what? This happens. Every. Single. Year. I look at my book for the next season, realize I don’t have any dates. Panic. And then it fills right up. Luckily, that happened for us again this summer season.
We started up our summer season at Red Shed Brewery. Wearing mask. Nervous about hugging. Contracts signed that we would keep our distance and encourage others to do the same. Little changes, but nothing huge. Well, there was one thing…huge. Stage fright for the Frame-ster. When did this become a thing? Apparently, May 15…at Red Shed.
I have never been shy about sharing my issues with anxiety and depression. But singing and gigging was my respite from those demons. It was my safe space. Now suddenly, I’m having a panic attack before a show at one of my favorite venues?! What the fuck? Well, a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do and so I took the stage and did my job. No one could tell I was feeling woozy and shaky and sweaty and had butterflies on meth in my stomach. Made it. Phew! No worries. I’ve just gotta get back in the swing of things. Then this won’t be an issue.
At the end of May we had a duo show booked at The Bulls Head Cellar Tavern. We had been working with our good friend Mike Sharick for the past month or so. We invited him to be a fifth member and he graciously accepted the role of second guitar player. Stoked. He and Brian were in a little band called Slinky Tripp back in the day and their musical bond is solid. Mike ends up joining us at The Cellar and we had a really fun night. The boys on acoustics. Kim and Susan behind the bar. Chris not needing to tell us to turn down because…acoustics. Really really fun. Oh yeah! If memory serves, that was the first day that a lot of restaurant restrictions were lifted so I think we all felt a little free-er that night!
Then came June. Remember I was telling you that all the venues had booked up. Well, they booked up for June, so we had a pretty sparce number of gigs. Actually, we had one. No! Two! We played Green Wolf as a trio. Drummer Steve had a murder mystery to solve with his “other friends”…but that’s fine…I guess…kidding. Anyway, so yeah, it was a trio gig outside in Middleburgh. It was so good to see so many friends there! So good, in fact, that we invited a handful of them to join us on stage with percussive instruments and extra vocal mics. We dubbed them the medium size boys and had a blast!
July. I was so excited for July. So many shows to play. And you know what happened, right? The rain freaking came. And it didn’t stop coming. So many cancelled events. I wanted to complain, and believe me, I did. But then I would come to my senses and remind myself that we were lucky to be able to play at all this year, unlike the last half of 2020. Count your blessings, Becca, and quit being a little bitty.
Memorable gigs from July that didn’t get rained out:
- Arlo’s Tavern in PA, July 4: Highlight: everyone singing the national anthem together. It was really a beautiful moment.
- Johnstown Midsummer Concert Series: Highlight: the stage lost power 3 songs in! We grabbed an acoustic guitar and a snare drum and moved into the center of the park and played the rest of the set into a battery-operated amp that Brian and I shared for guitar and vocals. It was kind of funny because if I sang too loud, I would steal all the juice from the amp and the guitar wouldn’t be heard. We made it work though! Thanks, Bill for helping us with that one! I was so proud of my band for knowing how to keep the music going, when shit gets crazy, and others might just quit.
- A private party for one of our favorite people: Highlight: the hostess with the most-ess played drums with us on a couple tunes. And she freaking rocked.
Rain wasn’t the only struggle that July brought. Our beloved drummer, Steve, needed surgery and he needed it at the height of gig season. I won’t get into the specifics of his health situation. That’s not my story to tell (I can say that he is recovering quite nicely). We didn’t care about the gigs. We cared about our boy, above all else. Steve encouraged us to find replacements while he was out. So that’s what we did. But before I get into all that, I want to tell you about the last gig we played with Steve before he had to go under the knife.
The forecast was threatening to have our last gig with Steve to be rained out. Luckily, we weren’t the only ones who were sick of cancellations. The crew at Wayward Lane Brewery in Schoharie were also sick of it. We all decided to throw caution to the wind and try to make the gig work…even though it was DEFINITELY going to rain. We couldn’t NOT TRY to have our last gig with Steve-O. It was coming down as we loaded in the gear. We were armed with a stage, pop ups, tarps, and gigantic garbage bags. This was going to happen. New band member, Mike, was like the general of our team. Making sure everything, every piece of equipment was safe. Also making sure that none of us would be electrocuted. Definite plus. This was first his full band gig with us (I think) and he fit right in. He proved then and there, before a song was played, that he was part of this team. Part of this family.
The show start time was 3:00, and wouldn’t you know it. At 3:00 the rain stopped. And we played our asses off all scrunched together under those pop ups! We get to the end of set two but didn’t want to stop playing. It felt too good. The crowd was with us! We would play on even though it the end time of 6:00 had passed! The first lick of the first song of the encore set was played and with that…it started to pour!!! Hahaha It was worth a shot!
Brother Steve had his surgery July 19. We were able to wrangle three boss drummers to keep his seat warm. Why three? Why not just one? These dudes are busy. Busy with other bands, busy with work, busy with family. None of them could do all the dates. But between the three of them we were covered. Who are these heroes?
Sam Doyle: drummer for Slinky Tripp, Scarpulla Band, Horseshoe Lounge Playboys, Barefoot Sunrise, and probably more. The Doctor.
Kevin Corkery: drummer for Bourbon and Branch and probably more. The Family Man.
Kevin Wassink: drummer for Runna Muck, Wreckloose, and probably more. The Beat Lab Beast.
I can’t say enough about these guys. They were all so willing to help us in our hour of need. And they are all spectacular drummers. They each have their own flavor and very different personalities and yet, they all fit in so well with the band. I am so grateful to them for all the work they put in to learning the songs, showing up for rehearsals, being kind and positive and keeping the seat warm for Steve.
We got to play a double header with Sam Doyle at the beginning of August. Helderberg Brewery and Rockland Cider Works. Both shows were…epic, for lack of a better word. It sure doesn’t hurt that Sam has a strong musical history with Brian Shafer and Mike Sharick (all members of Slinky Tripp and all past members of Scarpulla Band). Those boys have an undeniable connection. And the venues! Great crowds! People missed live music and they showed up!
Kevin Corkery joined us at the Cooperstown Concert Series, a private party, and the Cobleskill Arts in the Park. Such a solid guy. Such a solid player. He’s more of a jazz drummer, so to jump right into a rock and roll band takes some big, well, you know. And that boy can certainly rock.
Kevin Wassink and Brian have a history together as well. They were both in the band Wreckloose and did a few shows as Five Card. Kevin didn’t mess around when it came to preparing for the shows he would be on. And it showed. A telling moment that showed me that Kevin was one of us was when he showed up for rehearsal and wanted to focus on the original songs. It would be easier to play a bunch of covers that everyone knows. But Kevin wanted to do this right. He wanted to know OUR songs. That meant a lot. Some of the Kevin Wassink gigs got rained out, but we were able to play the Amsterdam Riverlink Concert Series with him on the kit. He did not disappoint. He had that shit down. He owned it.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Thank you. Thank you so much Sam, Kevin, and Kevin! There are still plenty of shows to play with you cats before our boy Steve is back in the seat. Let’s keep kicking their asses!
So, that was our summer. There were other gigs that I didn’t mention. All special in their own way. I’m so grateful that I get to sing for you people. And that you show up to listen to the boys and me. And even though I still have stage fright, months into being back, it is lifted right off of me as soon as the band starts, and I get to start belting out a tune. Music is still my happy place.