I still have very vivid memories of my first local show. It was December of 2005, and this girl I really liked asked me to go see her friend’s band: Modulate to A. I remember standing in the dark Howell Recreation Center, watching a whole bunch of bands with kids just as awkward as me in them, and feeling stupid for not realizing that there was such a cool music scene right here in my hometown.
That night was the first time I saw a band called The Hard Lessons play. Thinking about them playing “I Like Your Hair Long” still gives me chills. This band would go on to be the first band to legitimately change my life, as corny as that sounds.
From there on out, I was hooked. I went to shows as often as I could. I remember being blown away by bands like Empty Orchestra, Ports of Aidia, Ender, and Monument, Monument. I was amazed that such talented, polished bands called my state home. Several years later, I finally found myself playing music in some of the venues I so often attended.
My first show was an acoustic performance at the Hartland Performing Arts Center. I played a few really simple sad songs about a girl breaking up with me. After I played, a friend of mine that I met through this music scene approached me about adding some extra instrumentation to those songs. In a nutshell, that’s how Good Weather for Airstrikes was formed.
We’ve been a band for about four years now, and these past four years have without a doubt been the best, and most important, years of my life. I’ve met the most amazing people in garages and halls. I’ve learned more about myself and the world around me in talking with these people after shows than I ever have in any classroom. The best nights of my life have been spent in confined spaces, and left me with my ears ringing and sweat on my body that was likely not mine. The most profound things to come out of my mouth are words that are not my own. They have been shouted out in unison while musicians pour their hearts into instruments and microphones.
The world of Michigan music is not for everyone. But to some of us, it means more than anything. For me it is friendship, compassion, expression, and community. It is people who care about something real and honest. It is everything I love happening all at once. It is feeling accepted, and being loved for who I am.
Sometimes it feels like all I have. I will never forget that, and I will never take that for granted.
Michigan Music Matters. We’ll see you later this week.
James//Good Weather for Airstrikes