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Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Thea Atkinson Guest Blog: Already Home

One of the things that has consistently floored me since getting into the Indie writing side is just how nice a lot of the folks in this community are.


Case in point: Thea Atkinson guest blogs for me today, and not only does she come up with a blow-your-socks-off post, she's outing a darn good musical talent at the same time. (Of course I checked it out. Major talent - great lyrics and a voice that gives me goosebumps in very good ways. I'm already stalking him on twitter.)


Enjoy!


*********************

Already Home: the tale of a lowly musician
By Thea Atkinson

A series of thoughts flood Julian Babin's mind, churning over themselves like storm waves curling onto a jagged shoreline. Get out.  Hide.  Run home

He drags in a breath from the cramped backstage room as though it were the same air an overboard sailor would be pulling in (Get out.  Hide.  Run home), and he steals looks at the others with him.  Larry Hattie, Matt Hemeon, Jamie Surette, Andre Surette: they all act as though playing TH' YARC is an everyday occurrence.  No biggie.  Let’s get it on.  But there's a crick in Larry's usual long line of confidence, a tension in the way Matt clutches his drumstick that makes Julian think it’s made of lead rather than lightweight ash. Jamie has pushed his glasses up onto the bridge of his nose one time too many to just be considered habit.

Yes.  There's electricity here--a weather of electricity.  But there's something else too, or rather, someone else.  If Julian turns his head, focuses on just the right spot, he can imagine this someone: this 12-year-old boy.  His brown hair will be shaggy like most his age from running bases, his hazel eyes glint with excitement as his dad passes him a hot-red electric guitar.

“If you don’t do this for yourself,” he tells himself. “Do it for the boy.” Julian manages to take a deeper, more calming breath, and moves to the backstage curtain to pull it aside.

He's looked out a half-dozen times already.  The fog from the machine at the back of the stage is creeping along the boards, rising slowly into the red lights, diffusing them, amplifying the stage’s sense of isolation.  He can hear the murmur of voices in the theater as the crowd takes their seats.  Stephanie Hardy has been caught in the early November weather.  Cancellation is a must for her, an added anxiety for Julian.

He swallows down the thoughts that come upon him again. Get out. Hide. Run on home. He can manage. He’s done this sort of thing before. He and the boy. Maybe not TH' YARC, but backyard sheds, backyard gigs, festivals where he and a group of likeminded rock star teens played on flatbeds, behind the school, SARMU, anywhere that would let them bang out music.

By the time he was 22, he even played a semi-produced show: Tune-A-Fest, where he strummed out a Bryan Adams tune, and where for the first time people started telling him, “You should start doing your own stuff.”

He’d been nervous then too, but each time he adjusted the mic for himself during a performance and strapped on his guitar, he had calmed down.

He was home.

He thinks of that first electric guitar and how it had pulled some wonderful music from his fingers: nice, melodic heavy metal. Yes. Those early days when Metallica was the band that fueled his fantasies. Doesn’t matter that the dream evolved, like all good dreams do, or that the music in him changed.

He remembers coming home from summer music camp and a short grin steals his face for a moment. He’d arrived playing RunDMC and breakdancing to rap. Strange behavior from a young Wedgeport boy, but then, he’d always enjoyed things that were different.

He’s come a long way from there, a long, winding, but ultimately circular way. His mind picks up another shadow from those summers. A lanky teen with long hair, a cheap old mic, and a four track machine that recorded Neil Young inspired music. Dark.  Melancholy. Acoustic.  There were the cool kids, like there are everywhere teenagers gather, and then there was him.  The outcast.  He was doing things that no one else was.

Julian pulled toward him like Europa does Jupiter.

It had been a frustrating go, that summer.  Writing, playing, singing for an instructor that couldn't be appeased.  No one could impress him.  Long Hair seemed to take it in stride. 

"It doesn't matter what he thinks,"  Julian remembers him saying during one of their nightly hangouts.  "There's no right way to write a song.  It's what you like that matters."

What I like. Julian hadn’t really understood that till he was in his mid twenties. Up till then he destroyed most of what he wrote. His music, his lyrics, were eccentric then, fragmented in a way, but it had something, a feel, that seemed right, an ambassador for who he was. There are times, now, when he catches a glimpse of that feel, and so there’s hope that his music can evolve into what’s it’s meant to be.

He shutters his eyelids, peering into the corner, trying to imagine the boy again among his bandmates, who by now have become more relaxed. They stretch in their seats, legs crooked and crossed. Larry grins. Julian has this opportunity, really, because of Larry.

“Come on over, Jules,” he’d said when Julian feared he’d lose the melodies sprinting through his mind, “I’ll track you.” It’s how he’d ended up with a CD, why he’s doing this concert now. Still, he’s unnerved. These are songs that have survived for some reason and they want to be shared.

Julian fidgets.  Andre is out on stage, warming up the audience, and their responsive laughter filters its way back through the heavy black curtains.  They're attentive, this audience, quick.  They're here to listen; they want a show. The panic boils up again.

Get out.  Hide.  Run home. 

Julian’s mind darts about.  His heart picks up a tempo that has his breath skipping, but this time, the 12-year-old boy cozies up to him.  It's not time to run or hide. 

It's time to go onstage. 

With a determined breath, he steps into the lights, feels the heat of the orange and blue strobes strike his arms where the T-shirt sleeves end.  The roar that erupts from the packed house vibrates in his chest.  He straps on his guitar, adjusts the mic, and a sense of calm envelops him. He feels the boy next to him, imagines him smiling.  There's no need to run or hide.

He’s already home.

-30-

Thea writes psychological thriller novels and she tries to help out struggling musicians in some small way. If you enjoyed Julian's story, please find him on Myspace (http://www.myspace.com/210497085)

Or follow him on Twitter http://twitter.com/#!/JulianMarcBabin

As for Thea, she does her usual rambling on her blog, sells a few ebooks, and twitters a lot.

Please feel free to follow her on twitter
http://twitter.com/#!/theaatkinson

or like her facebook page:

or visit her blog for ramblings, guest posts, giveaways, and more
http://theaatkinson.wordpress.com


Check out the book trailer Thea made for Anomaly; using Julian's music: http://www.myspace.com/video/569367271/21-jul-2011/108036321