I get a lot of time to read during basketball season, hours on buses, planes and downtime in hotel rooms give me a chance to scour pages of great works; and thanks to the advent of e-readers, I get to carry multiple titles at once without having to lug paperbacks in carry-on luggage.
Recently I start reading ‘Hitless Wonder’ a nonfiction rock biography by Joe Oestreich, from the band Watershed. Now I fancy myself a pretty good expert in 90’s music, especially rock and alternative. But I had never heard of Watershed, who apparently was on Epic records at the same time as Pearl Jam, Silverchair and Michael Jackson while also opening for better-known 90’s bands such as Sixpence None the Richer and The Fugees.
Joe’s book takes place in modern-day; years after the band had limited success in the 90’s. Today they’re a bunch of 40-somethings still holding on to the rock-and-roll dream. While reminiscing about old times, ‘Hitless Wonder’ captures the band’s passion for touring, their dedication to staying “in the game” despite the fact that they are way past their prime. They are in love with the long days, van rides, small clubs, small crowds and small paychecks, because that’s who they are; satisfied by being small-time, embracing their place in this world.
While reading the book I can’t help but draw parallels from their rock tour to what I’ve been through for the last 10 years. It’s like I’ve been on tour with a band that changes pieces every year. We’ve even changed front men, but for some reason one piece has remained the same, yours truly. The guy with all the cool tour stories, frequent flyer miles, refrigerator magnets from all over the country and a knack for being able to find an open restaurant at even the most odd hours in some of America’s smallest cities.
While Watershed was once an on-the-verge of the big time band, I’ve been touring with an on-the-verge of the big time athletics program for the last several years as well. Unlike a band, my voice hasn’t been heard by the fans in all these cities since my signal comes back to the same fans in Kern County, but our student-athletes have left a little bit of themselves in all those cities in the blood and sweat they’ve left in those arenas and gyms.
I’m a lot like those rockers in the book; I’ve grown fond of the small time while always striving to take that next step. Long bus rides, poor diet habits and time away from home are all part of the gig. It’s like golf; each round gives you just enough good shots to bring you back the next time. Each season brings me enough joy to look forward to the next, no matter how many small planes, cramped hotel rooms or long bus rides await.
Yep, I’m convinced it’s just like rock and roll, minus the musical talent, singing ability and groupies. Ok, it’s nothing like rock and roll at all, but I have a great refrigerator magnet collection. Rock on.
COREY COSTELLOE, a Tehachapi High graduate, is Director of New Media and Broadcasting for California State University Bakersfield.