In the past year, I've read two excellent memoirs by female musicians who recount the travails of playing in an under-the-radar, under-appreciated band in the shadows of much bigger rock stars. One was "Everything I'm Cracked Up to Be: A Rock & Roll Fairy Tale" by Jen Trynin, who had a minor mid-'90s alt-rock hit with "Better Than Nothing" but who was eclipsed by the likes of Liz Phair and Alanis Morissette. The other was "Petal Pusher: A Rock and Roll Cinderella Story" by Laurie Lindeen of late '80s/early '90s all-female trio Zuzu's Petals, whose poppy garage rock was basically scorned in the era of riot grrrl. (Lindeen, by the way, went on to marry former Replacements frontman Paul Westerberg.)
After finishing both books, I couldn't help but draw some parallels between someone starting a rock band and someone starting a flat track roller derby league. In the shadow of well-funded, established sports leagues, we've started our own sport with whoever's willing to learn how to play with whatever money we can scrounge up. At first, we have absolutely no idea what we're doing, but we learn as we go. We practice wherever someone will let us at whatever time works for them. We print up posters and flyers and beg family, friends and co-workers to come see us play until they're sick of hearing about it. We plead with the media to grant us a just couple of column inches or a few minutes of air time. We take our act on the road, praying that people will turn out and that we'll sell a T-shirt or two. We desperately hope we won't screw up and make complete fools of ourselves. We want nothing more than for people to have fun watching us, tell all their friends about us and come back for more.
The only difference is that our story isn't over yet. The next chapter for the Cincinnati Rollergirls is this Saturday’s bout, the last one of the season at the Cincinnati Gardens. So come out and make us feel like rock stars, and maybe we’ll thank you in our own memoir someday.
Saturday, September 8, 2007
Roller Derby Diva has a nice little blog entry in which she compares starting a roller derby league to starting a rock and roll band. I like it:
at 12:29 AM