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On the Road 🚐🛣🎵

Matthew Kwasnicki

September 5, 2016

I always look back at my time performing with the band fondly. We weren’t incredibly successful, but we had a lot of fun on the road. We traveled across the country in a beat-up Volkswagen van. There were four of us. I played bass and sang backup. Dan was on drums. Johnny played guitar. Betty did vocals. Our manager, Isaac, traveled with us part-time.

We got on well enough, most of the time. Occasionally Betty had to fend off our advances. Isaac would have had our heads if she didn’t. Sometimes Dan and Johnny got into arguments. It was mostly artistic differences or interest in the same woman. I kept mostly to myself, focusing on the music and staying sober enough to drive.

Sometimes it was difficult to keep going on so little money. We had only a few outfits and we didn’t eat that well, mostly fast food and salty snacks. Somehow Betty always managed to look good even with disheveled hair and minimal makeup. We didn’t get haircuts for months at a time and showered at most once per week, but the lingering smell of cigarettes and marijuana covered up much of the body odour.

The best times for me were when we played. The dive bars and street festivals were my favorite. The crowds were small but we got a decent reception. There were always a couple of eager young girls cheering us on in the front and a couple of suitors that Betty had to reject after a little flirtation. I had the least luck with the ladies. They preferred the rugged looks and bravado of Dan and Johnny to my well mannered behaviour and fairly average appearance. Sometimes I felt like a bystander, watching their lives unfold around me as if on a television drama.

After nearly a year on the road the disagreements between the guys became more frequent and it was harder for them to hide their quarrels from the audience. One night they got in a physical fight on stage. Neither one would allow their ideas to be ignored during the performance. I had wished there was something I could do to stop them, but my attempts to pull them apart nearly gave me a black eye. I could tell at that point that our days were numbered. Betty had a disheartened look on her face. I was incredibly upset and embarrassed at the ordeal. At least Isaac wasn’t there that night as he would have shot them on the spot.

It would have been hard for us to go on after that. Isaac tried to market Betty as a solo act, but her guitar skills were not good enough and her vocals were surprisingly weak without us around. I lost touch with the boys. They’re likely still playing somewhere although I can’t be certain.

I got a couple of gigs with other bands but I could never get back the feeling I had when we first started. I had expected my career in music to be very different. I had hoped that we would be able to prolong the adventure a little longer and become more successful. I also thought I would get more attention from the ladies. It was still a good experience to have even if it didn’t turn out the way I wanted.