Musicians Face Their Toughest Audience Of All: Mom
When you're a kid, you can't wait to bring your mom the picture you drew, or sing her the song you learned. You live for her approval, that smile of pride.
And later, that support can steadily make you more and more into the artist you will become. One day you're singing "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands," and the next you're all loud and shirtless and edgy and sweaty with sex and stuff.
What happens to your mom then?
"Rock Star" is a nocturnal occupation, and as we all know, our parents have never stayed up late, had sex or ever been cool. They're not going to come out to a dive bar and to see us strum and scream, and if they did, we'd be sooooooo embarrassed.
"Honor thy parents, brothers and sisters," Joey "the Lips" Fagan once said. "They were hip to the groove once too, you know? Parents are soul."
The Krunkquistadors' Kris Krunk (left) and his biggest fan
Then again, it's kind of neat when you're mom finally comes to see you perform as an adult. One of Rocks Off's favorite memories is David Arquette keeping our lead singer's mom company on the curb while the rest of us tried to get her door open after she'd locked her keys in her car.
Kris Krunk is another local legend who give props to his maternal support system. She was there when he was an all-region tuba player in school, and was an avid attendant when Krunk did solo acoustic sets at coffee houses. But what about now, when Krunk is indulging in more mature-minded material?
"When she comes to a Krunkquistadors show, I get a lil' embarrassed," said Krunk. "A lot of our songs are ok to play when she's there, not too many drug, sex and alcohol references, but when we play songs like 'Put Your Lights Out,' 'Bad Bitch,' or 'Sweet Sweet' I always try not to make eye contact with her while I do my verses and choruses.
"Something about saying 'Sticky Icky Icky, come and get me when you see me, I'm always flying high first class straight to Philly' or 'Ooh Girl go and gimme that Sweet Sweet, You know I need that Sweet Sweet' makes me feel awkward in front of Mom," he adds, inexplicably.
"I always hope that she is old enough not to pick up on some slang, but then again, she isn't dumb! Even though I do get red in the face, I still appreciate the fact that she comes to support me, whether she likes the music or not, because she is my world.
"I'll make it up to her when I have kids and start writing kids' songs... Yeah, I said it."
Deanna Haughey, currently the lead singer of Judith Priest and former front woman for The Sinister Sirens was more comfortable in front of her mother, who managed to see her perform live before she passed away four years ago.
"She liked to party," said Haughey. "She fit in fine."
But few stories are as touching as the one told by Christian Arnheiter, Houston's punk senior statesmen and leader of The Hates. Their family always struggled to make ends meet, and Mrs. Arnheiter was always busy working on the weekends.
She never seemed to have time to catch one of her son's concerts, but always said that seeing his band's name on marquees as she drove to her night job at the Harris County Court House made her feel proud.
In the '90s, Mrs. Arnheiter was hit with a massive stroke that left her paralyzed down her left side. She was admitted to a nursing home, but would stay with Christian on the weekends so he could be close to her and take care of her. Christian decided that since she had never gotten to see The Hates decimate a stage before, he would take her himself on one of their weekends (left).
Arriving early, Christian parked his mother's wheelchair in a safe spot with a good view of the dance floor before going to start the show. With the bright lights in his eyes, Christian was unable to see his mother, and began to worry about her. As he called out to her over the PA, the packed club below him turned their heads to look at her.
"One of the audience members pushed her out in the middle of the floor, where the crowd opened up to admit her," he says. "A circle of Mohawked attendants gathered around her, almost like an honor guard. She laughed, and since she did not have the ability to speak, she raised her good arm and gave two fingers up - a sign of her approval.
"I consider that show one of the highlights of my career."
Now if you'll excuse Rocks Off, we have to go call our mom.
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