Friday, July 30, 2010

Hobnobbin' in Music City

My biggest star-struck moment living in Nashville and working in the music industry didn’t actually come from rubbing elbows with a big country star. Truth be told, even though I’ve worked in country music for years, I’ve never been a big fan of country. I certainly respect it, and there’s a whole bunch of it I actually enjoy whenever I hear it. But if you were to see my CD collection or the tunes on my iPod, you’d see next to zero country music.

When I moved to Nashville from L.A. 15 years ago, I was so clueless about country that I couldn’t have told you the difference between George Jones and George Strait. I don’t know if I’d even heard of George Strait, who was probably the biggest country star on the planet.

No, my first real “holy shit! That’s so-and-so!” star-struck moment came when I met John Waite – he of The Babys, solo stuff in the ‘80s (“Missing You”), and the band Bad English with Journey’s Neil Schon. I knew that John was dating Alison Krauss, someone I’ve met and spoken to a few times and whose music I actually do own. Alison’s son plays soccer, and we share a number of mutual friends. When I heard that she was dating John Waite, I thought it was an odd pairing, but who am I to judge?

So there I was on a Saturday morning, watching my daughter and her best friend, Sadie, who is also Alison’s goddaughter, playing soccer. I was hanging with Sadie’s dad, Gary, who’s a multiple-Grammy-winning sound engineer (and current owner of Alison’s former house; they’ve worked on many albums together.) Well, Alison’s son, Sam, was about to play, so she came over with John, and the four of us started talking. I played it cool, of course, but inside I was thinking “holy shit! This is John Waite, a bona-fide one-time pop sensation!”

He and I actually spoke for quite a while. He was living in Santa Monica, and I’d moved to Nashville from Santa Monica. He was contemplating a move to Music City and seemed genuinely interested in my thoughts. If I play this right, John and I will be total best friends forever!

I decided not to let him know that during my first night in Nashville, I laid in my bed at 2:30 in the morning with tears streaming down my face, thinking “why the fuck did I move from the beach to this God-forsaken hayseed town?” (Just three days prior I’d still been living in my high-rise apartment on the beach with the windows open, listening to the ocean waves crashing on the beach. Now I was in some crappy-ass apartment hearing 18-wheelers rumbling down I-40 and rattling my windows.) No, I’d keep that wound all to myself.

Well, John Waite and I never became BFFs. He never called. He didn’t ask for my number. Apparently, he’s never heard of a phone book; I’m listed, you know… We never spoke again. C’est la vie.

(I never liked that song “Missing You” anyway. And his hair was big and stupid when he was in Bad English. I did dig his stuff with The Babys though.)

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Doobies, Demons and a Limousine

I attended my first rock concert when I was thirteen and living in Oklahoma City. I was a big Doobie Brothers fan at the time. I wasn’t as rabid for them as I was for KISS, but I was still a big fan. Michael McDonald, Patrick Simmons - Skunk Baxter had left by then, but whatever. I liked ‘em plenty, and they were riding high on their current hits “Minute by Minute” and “What a Fool Believes.”

One of my new friend’s father owned a stretch limo, and he offered to have his driver chauffeur us to the Doobie Brother concert, just me, his son and another kid. How's that for a first concert? The full celebrity treatment!

A week before the show on a Saturday night, my buds and I did what most 13-year old sub-division dwellers did to entertain ourselves at night – we walked the streets and alleyways looking for trouble, which rarely found us, and easy women, which most definitely never found us. But on this fateful evening, we had a fourth little friend accompany us - a flask of Canadian Club whiskey. One of my bro’s had pilfered the sweet nectar from his old man’s locked liquor cabinet.

Now, up to that point, I don’t recall ever tasting hard liquor before, and Canadian Club, if you’ve never had the pleasure, is a syrupy sweet elixir that goes down the hatch easily – especially for a trio of 13-year old featherweights.

Can you say shitfaced?

Somehow I made it home and past my mother and brothers who were watching “Saturday Night Live” (dad was out of town for some reason, thank Christ!), and I made it to my bed unnoticed. Of course, within seconds my bed was spinning like one of those questionable centrifuge rides at a traveling carnival - only this time, you know when you reach that point on the centrifuge when you begin hoping the gacked-out felon controlling the rickety death-trap will begin to ease her on down? Well, no such luck this time. My bed kept spinning faster and faster, and I don’t actually remember the very moment I started to feel queasy…

I’ll spare you the gory details that I don’t entirely remember myself, but I assure you from the extensive clean-up effort the following morning that my bedroom had the appearance – and odor - of having been ground zero to what can only be described as some form of brutal exorcism. The damage - and D.N.A. - was everywhere. Even my innocent new Les Paul sitting on its stand in the corner took some liquid shrapnel. Don’t ask me how because I have no clue.

I vaguely remember sometime later hearing my little brother say from my bedroom’s entrance, “Mom, I think Sean is sick,” which still irks me to this day because he knew I was wasted, and instead of covering for me, he turned stoolie and ratted me out!

Naturally, I was summarily grounded for a couple of weeks, which meant no Doobie Brothers, no limo, no celebrity treatment, nothing.

Alas, my parents did what they have usually done throughout my life, and they went soft and gave me an evening furlough. Limo, Doobie Brothers, McDonald’s on the way home, the whole she-bang.


Friday, April 30, 2010

Ace Frehley's Effect on Man

Welcome to my blog, friends, and my very first post. My name is Sean Patrick Dooley. And, yes, I’m of Irish descent. I only say that because throughout my life I’ve heard “you must be Irish” so many times after my name is given that I thought I’d just confirm the obvious up front. Please, call me Sean.

I live in Nashville with my two kids. I was born and raised in Dallas, graduated from the University of Texas in Austin, moved to L.A. in what turned out to be a half-hearted attempt at a career in music (then acting, then writing – it’s the writing that eventually caught on). We fled the West Coast for Nashville after the last monster earthquake, and it is right here in Music City where I was eventually able to parlay my love of music and writing into a respectable career.

For that, I have Ace Frehley of KISS to thank.

You see, I was a KISS fanatic when I was a kid. I’m talking posters on the walls, albums, KISS Army membership, the comic book printed with the actual blood of KISS themselves - you name it. And Ace Frehley - he was my guy. I wanted to be Ace Frehley (and for a couple of Halloween’s, I was Ace Frehley!). There was just something different about Ace that set him apart from Paul, Gene and Peter. I was just this side of young enough to believe, on some level, that maybe Ace really was from outer space, which made him just that much cooler to me.

When I was thirteen, my father’s job transferred him from Dallas to Oklahoma City. To assuage his guilt over moving the family to a new city, he promised me that if I made the 8th grade football team at my new school, he’d buy me an electric guitar. (I know my father, and he would have bought me the guitar even if I hadn’t made the team, which I did. Side note – ice hockey’s my sport, and I’ve played my entire life; still do. I played football in junior high to position myself, at the very least, on the periphery of the cool crowd, which I did.)

After making the team, my father took me on the afternoon of Halloween to the Rock World music store in Oklahoma City. I had my eyes set on the sweet Les Paul Sunburst copy, the exact guitar Ace Frehley played (except for it being a copy and all – Ace played Gibson’s, of course, but I didn’t care – looking the part was more important than owning an actual Gibson guitar.) I knew there was no way my dad would ever spring for a Gibson, and I didn’t give a rat’s ass. I was gonna have the same guitar as my hero, even if it was a copy.

An hour later, my father and I walked out of Rock World. I was the proud new owner of a Gibson Les Paul! A real Gibson guitar! Technically, it was a Gibson “The Paul,” which is similar to a Les Paul Studio, but an actual Gibson guitar!

I turned out to be a quick study on the guitar. I was in my first band less than a year later – we called ourselves Rigor Mortis – and a year after that I was playing professionally.

Fast-forward to today, and I still play my Ace Frehley-inspired guitar – it’s the best guitar I’ve ever owned, and I’ve had a few over the years. I also work for Gibson Guitar at their headquarters in Nashville and am surrounded by Les Pauls.

In less than one week I’m going to interview Ace Frehley for I hope it takes place on his spaceship!