Author’s note

I’m serializing the first 10% of Smokin’ & Cryin’ here on my blog. It’s the story of a young American rock band set in the early 1970s. Please feel free to share this with your friends.

Overture is the first installment. This post is #12 in the series.


Chapter 5 – Demo (part 1)

A month later we had to drive to Detroit because Perry was tapped for session work by one of my favorite acts, The Odette Brothers Band. I was psyched to meet them, but it turned out they were off touring somewhere. They wanted him to put a few bass tracks down at Studio D because some recordings got botched at their private recording digs in Georgia.

The good news was Perry had negotiated with them to give Smoky Topaz time to cut a demo. Suddenly, I got why Arthur gave Perry the biggest slice of our pathetic bar band pie.

We spent the drive to Michigan debating which of our originals to include on the demo. We could pick two, and we had to keep them each under three minutes long even though we loved to jam and explore things. Everyone else wanted to do Dirty Soles, our crowd pleaser, but it wasn’t close to my best songwriting. They outvoted me: Dirty Soles won. A blues number Arthur had written about Mercy Ramos, Your Pincushion, made the B side.

The engineer, a quiet man with a graying afro, caressed my Les Paul. “This baby used to belong to Russ Fairlane.”

“The guy from Galactic Halo who OD’d? Seriously?”

“You bought this off Mr. Handy.”

“How did you guess?”

“The old codger wouldn’t sell it to me. I even asked him extra nice and offered him some serious bread. Nope. He smiled and said he was saving it for an extraordinary individual. I figured he meant someone famous. But here you are, a teenage nobody with the sweet­est ax I ever laid eyes on. Damn. Russ’s Black Beauty.” He laughed. “What makes Mr. Handy think you’re so special?”

“Must have confused me with somebody else. Go ahead and play her.” I kept it to myself that the guitar had run me $74 and a Kiddle doll. Arthur was still sore over that; I didn’t need this guy piling on.

The engineer peeled off some sweet riffs. Like Arthur, his playing smoked mine. I suggested he lay down my rhythm tracks.

He handed over my guitar. “A demo should be an honest repre­sentation of the band. Besides, you kids can’t afford me.”

During my turn in the sound booth, I gave it my everything. Even Perry flashed me an approving smile.

“Ah, now I get it,” the engineer said when I finished. “Mr. Handy sure knows his stuff.”

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