It’s about the vibe.
So you’ve put in your 10,000 hours. You know you’re good, everybody does. By this time talent flows from you like a leaky faucet – you can’t stop it. With a little luck you don’t wear it like a crown of condescension.
So now it’s time to go out and be in a band. Oh boy! You get to show the world how awesome you are. Hmmm, maybe you have more to learn, Grasshopper.
Music is a funny thing. It has the power to – no matter how good you are – bring you to your knees in humility. That’s what happens when you don’t vibe well with people.
Heart played together today for the first time in 34 years. The vibe? The vibe was not unlike all those years ago in Chris Blaine’s basement, but now, instead of electric sparks, there were glowing embers that reeked of the potential to bust out in flames and set the whole stinkin’ city on fire.
Drosh, me and Foz and Somar are in the lobby of the Ritz about to take a ride with Tony, our Armenian driver to the rehearsal hall to make history with Ann and Nance.
Weather-wise, it’s a beautiful, sunny day. The Santa Ana winds are mad about something, casting palm fronds on to the road and blowing the skirts up on unprepared ladies.
We arrive at the hall, a well-used facility, but good enough for the likes of us. Along with about 10 various tech, wardrobe, and management people, we greet Howard Leese and Jerry Cantrell. Both are warm, welcoming, and completely cool. These guys both are in positions where they could look down their noses at you, but it’s about the VIBE. They know that. They’re pros.
Jerry and I waste no time in letting each other know how much we love each other’s playing. I tell him about the Halloween party in the mid-nineties we had at my former home on Bear Creek Road in Woodinville.
We had spent all day writing and recording a script involving aliens and all kinds of wacky stuff, all set to the tune of Dem Bones, by Alice In Chains. We had our party-goers, about 30 people, out in the woods on my five-acre parcel, with only a narrow trail to allow passage one way or the other. High-powered speakers were set in the trees, as the scary story unraveled much to the chagrin of these innocents who by now were wondering, WTF?!? At just the right point in the script, from the far end of our mob and the direction to where the trail leads, Zippy The Crazed cranks up a chain saw and starts staggering toward our crowd. People are now screaming and turn to run. We had enough light so people could see the trail. This was also enough for them to see the monster rise up from under leaves where he’d been hiding. These people are FREAKING!
Jerry gets a kick out of this story and soon he and I are singing Alice In Chains songs, me hitting the Layne Staley high parts.
After a bit more clowning around and some good laughs had, Ann walks in. We hug hard and look deeply into each other’s eyes. There is genuine affection and caring here… both ways. We talk a bit and then in walks Nance. Again, heartfelt hugs and lots of laughter at the “musician comments” going around the room. We’re all pros here. We know that there’s one lubricant without which there’s simply not going to be much fun.
It’s about the vibe.
By now we’ve all dialed in our sounds and are ready. Nance hits the galloping intro to Crazy On You and boom! There it is. There’s the magic. There’s the chemistry. That mix of people, personalities and talent that only happens once. No other mix will ever be this. This ROCKS! This is HEART!
If we had only played the song once, it would have been enough to be ready for the show. That’s how good it is. We go through the whole song about four times, tighten up a few little things, and we’re done. Ready.
As Howard and I play the lead, we look at each other with knowing eyes, recognizing that we’ve both remembered subtle details that probably no Heart tribute band would incorporate.
The humor in the room is easy and infectious. Great people here. We all know that same feeling we knew so well when we toured 34 years ago. We’re gonna rock the house!
It’s about the vibe.
Roger Fisher is one the founding guitarists of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band Heart. He lives in the Sky Valley, and is involved in music and film.