Friday, November 14, 2008

She’s with the band: It’s in the DNA

By S. Derrickson Moore
Sun-News reporter
LAS CRUCES — When I heard about my grandson’s new band, I flashed back to the day his dad Ryan, less than a year old, warbled “The Star Spangled Banner” in perfect pitch, though the lyrics consisted of just one repeated word: “Noodle.”
I have vivid memories of grandson Alexander the Great’s first fiesta in Las Cruces, a festive 10-month-old struggling mightily to stand up in his stroller and shake his maracas at a Cinco de Mayo gathering on the Mesilla Plaza.
A few months ago, I still had a few inches on Alex, who has since turned 12 and last week informed me that he and I are now exactly the same height.
With two six-foot parents, I guess I shouldn’t be shocked at his swift ascension, and probably by the next visit, I’ll relive that teenage moment when my rapidly growing “baby” boy Ry reached down to pat me on the head.
It will be right up there with another deja vu musical moment that’s already here: Alex, like his rockin’ prodigy dad, has formed his first junior high band.
And I have the pictures to prove it: three members of the Duct Tape Bandits, clearly ready for their album cover close-ups, stare at me from a scenic autumn Idaho landscape.
It seems like only yesterday that Ryan was attracting a motley crew of young musicians and fans for after-school jam sessions, then rotating through a bunch of Pacific Northwest “Lego” band affiliations that were ever changing and involved performances with many groups whose names I cannot use in a family newspaper. Finally, he was recruited by the Sweaty Nipples, a group that lasted more than a decade, got a contract with a major label, landed on regular MTV rotation, went on a couple of national tours, recorded some major riffs for Nintendo and other major advertisers and even landed a Grammy nomination.
I don’t know if science has officially identified the DNA markers yet, but there is no doubt in my mind that music, and various other kinds of artistic creativity are passed down through the generations.
And that includes what is know in our tribe as the family “congenital defect:” a passion and propensity for writing.
I was about 6 when I settled in behind my dad’s ancient Smith Corona and taught myself to type, which brought an immediate response from my parents.
“Look, Doris, she’s taken up the family instrument,” Dad crowed.
Dad was an enthusiastic poet and essayist, though he made his living as an aircraft engineer and most of his poems were about flying or fishing, as I recall.
But the writing gene was clearly dominant in our generation. My big sister just retired after nearly 50 years as a reporter and erstwhile editor and publisher. My brother was a sports reporter who defected to the legal profession, but after retirement has produced some award-winning short stories.
As the middle child, I tried to carry on the legacy of both literary Dad and musical Mom, a talented pianist who played with a dance band in college.
Unlike my sibs, I sang in chorus and played in school bands and picked up the guitar in college. I composed music for a couple of public service announcements and picked up a co-credit on my high school fight song — for lyrics, not the tune — but it became obvious that in my genetic legacy, words were dominant and music was recessive.
But it’s now clear that I’m a carrier and the dominant musical gene has simply skipped a generation.
It wasn’t until my 40s that I enjoyed the thrill of all-access backstage passes at clubs and music festivals, as I authoritatively dropped my son’s name and was ushered past the fans and groupies to the sweet sound of those four magic words: “She’s with the band.”
Now as the granny of a Duct Tape Bandit, I’m looking forward to a new era of perks and privileges. If you’re looking for an inside track to hot sounds of the new Millennium, just stick close to me.
I’ll get you in. I’m with the band.
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at

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