There was only one vote in it last week…
Yes, the voting was that close!
But you’ve all proved to me (yet again) that your core love is rockers—and I guess that’s why you’re all here.
I hope I can do you all proud with the woman that Marty’s going to meet.
Enjoy this week’s chapter and—DON’T FORGET TO VOTE!
Love Toni xx
“He handled the press like the pro he is,” Calvin crowed as he ushered Dylan back to the waiting three of us. I watched with fascination as the colour rose on Dylan’s cheeks. For someone who wanted to be a lead singer, I guess he was finding being our frontman a truly new experience.
“Treat ‘em mean and keep ‘em keen, kid,” I said to Dylan as I slapped him on the back. It wasn’t as if me and the boys had been standing around doing nothing while he’d been speaking to the media.
It had been a storm of one selfie after another with anyone who wanted to come out the front of the bungalow. We hadn’t been short of people wanting their photo taken with the band either. Amongst the milling throng there had been a few influencers in the business who’d made it their job to get a couple of shots with the rest of us and begin the process of spreading the word about Yellow Lady.
Now that the band was standing together in a huddled group, avoiding any further interaction with the media, Calvin checked his watch.
“Time to get you out there,” he said with his trademark crooked smile. There was something about the glint in his eye that I hadn’t seen before though. Calvin looked almost as excited and on edge as the rest of us.
“Let’s go show this LA crowd what a Kiwi band has to offer, aye?” Calvin said as he reached up and slapped Marty on the back.
Marty jumped as if he’d been hit by a twelve-thousand-volt cable, not his manager. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to see that the kid was on edge, but I didn’t think he was that on edge. Marty pulled at the red bandanna tied around his neck, swinging the knot on the colourful piece of material from one side of his throat to the other.
“Bet you didn’t think you’d end up here when you arrived on my doorstep hung over all those months ago?” Calvin teased.
“No way,” Marty replied.
“You got this, Marty,” Calvin said, “And the rest of you. Don’t be intimidated by where you are. You deserve to be here. Just remember that when you get up on the stage. You’ve worked hard and you’re good and that’s why you’re damn well here.”
How did this man know what to say at just the right moment? Maybe it had something to do with how long he’d been in the business?
I’d been around the block a few times, but even I had to admit that my palms were sweaty.
It was one thing playing the pubs and clubs in New Zealand—but quite something else to find myself heading for what could easily have been a film set in LA.
As we pressed our way through the tightly packed crowd of A-Listers and their associated entourages, I had a moment of wondering how the hell we’d get this mob out of here if there was any kind of emergency.
But I couldn’t worry about that now.
One of the A&R guys whose name escaped me now had centre stage.
Well, it was a stage that had been erected between the pool house and the pool proper. That meant, unless the punters were going to get in the actual pool itself (and nothing would surprise me in LA) there was at least a little space between us and the swarming masses.
“Let’s give them a warm LA welcome, Yellow Lady.”
That was our cue to get up on the stage and give these folks what they were waiting for.
That’s all Calvin wanted us to play.
“We treat ‘em mean and we keep ‘em keen,” he’d said when we were rehearsing. One of his many catch-phrases and, besides, I’m sure these people had places to be seen other than here.
I waited for the nod from each of the lads.
I wiped my hands on my black jeans, picked up my sticks and counted us in.
We were away.
Jesse’s solid bass playing settled us into the first number and we were well into the second before I realised that Marty and Dylan were actually enjoying themselves.
A couple of chicks had been thrown, fully clothed into the swimming pool and it seemed to settle the lads nerves.
The sound was great. Nothing like in-ear fold-back to keep out the screaming reality of the punters out the front.
From where I sat, I could see a couple of the top-shelf execs that we’d been briefly introduced to lurking in a very important way on the edges of the crowd. But for the main part, most of the people out front seemed to be engaging with Dylan and paying attention.
Not what I’d expected from our first LA crowd, but it wasn’t unwelcome attention.
Months on the road in New Zealand meant that, when Dylan eventually relaxed, with the distance between him and the crowd out front, he began his easy taunting of the audience. He’d become somewhat of an expert in the art of subdued menace.
They were lapping it up—in fact, I’d have gone so far as to say that they weren’t even aware that Dylan was taking the piss out of them, but with a degree of respectfulness that meant the crowd responded to us with overt affection.
Effusive affection wasn’t something that I’d seen in an audience before—but it was something that I decided I could come to enjoy.
Half way through the set, I noticed a chick in the pool flicking water up over Marty.
She looked like a seal in the water.
All black leather and long black hair.
Like the rest of us, Marty had gotten past his nerves and was enjoying the gig and the extra-special attention.
But she had her fucking eye on him—that was more than apparent to anyone watching what was going on out front.
With the bars of the last song hanging on the air above the pool, the crowd began the expected call for “more.” We obliged with one of Marty’s amazing originals before we eventually bid them good afternoon and left the stage, listening to them screaming for us to return.
“What’s on the note you picked up?” I heard Dylan say to Marty as we broke out the beer in the bedroom wing.
Calvin had ushered us all through the bellowing crowd and back into the secure area of the house.
“A name and number,” Marty said with a huge smile.
“Share with the group,” I said as I took another swig of my beer and picked up my second for the afternoon. “It’s clear she wants in your jeans.”
I watched with amusement as Marty’s face turned nearly the same colour as the bandanna that he wore around his neck.
“No need,” Calvin chimed in, “Petunia Anders is the name on that piece of paper. Lead singer with Ace Revolution.”
“Fucking no way!” Dylan said. “I thought she looked like Pet, but then it was hard to tell when she started frolicking in the pool.” Then I watched with amusement as Dylan turned a dorky, but adorable I’m-in-awe-of-you look on his friend.
“Really?” Marty looked at Calvin as if his manager had just told him that the Tooth Fairy was, in fact, real.
“The same young lady who just cleaned up at The Grammy’s.”
“Holy shit… no way…” I didn’t hear the last of Marty’s words as he buried his face in his hands, but I could probably have guessed.
“The band’s a label-mate,” Calvin added, “likely that you’ll be on the circuit with Ace Revolution at some stage.”
Marty’s head shot up.
“I told you boys when I brought you over here that this was the big time,” Calvin said, “now you believe me?”
Marty still had the look of a stunned mullet about him. Eyes wide. Mouth agape.
“Someone give the man a beer,” Jesse laughed. “Can’t wait to see the picture of the two of you on the front of Rolling Stone.” Jesse spread his arms wide, “PetMart, the newest hot thing out of the LA rock scene.”
That stirred something in Marty’s slowly processing brain.
“Shut the fuck up.”
“PetMart,” Dylan sniggered. “Sounds like the local veterinary clinic back home.”
“And you can shut the fuck up as well,” Marty said turning an icy stare on his best friend.
“Chill dudes,” as much as I would have loved to continue to poke fun at Marty, he’d taken enough crap already. “What about that crowd, huh? They were lapping us up.”
“And the social media feeds are going crazy with you,” Calvin added. “Keep this up lads and you’ll be playing stadiums before you know it.”
“Riding on the coat-tails of PetMart,” Dylan laughed so hard I thought he was going to fall over.
I didn’t need to worry about that. The next thing, Marty flew at him and there was a scrum in the middle of the room.
“Someone break them up,” Calvin sighed as he began to wheel himself around the brawling bodies on the floor. “I don’t need my lead singer sporting a black eye at the next gig.”
This was beginning to look like the start of something big.
I couldn’t wait to email Alannah and tell her all about it. But in the meantime, I had a fight to break up.
* * *
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