My Kid Doesn’t Want to Be a Rockstar

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom 

He’s only 6, but my oldest child, Nathan, has made it quite clear he doesn’t want to play guitar, piano or drums. He doesn’t want to sing either, or be in any kind of musical group or glee club. 

Nate

My little rockstar Nathan (who doesn’t want to be a rockstar) 

Part of me is a kind of bummed about this. Since I was a little girl, I dreamed of making music, and when I finally joined my first band in my early 20s, couldn’t wait till my first gig. I loved singing and writing songs. Even poetry, my truest love and most intimate artistic expression, was a gateway to songwriting and music. 

So of course I assumed I’d pass on this love. I keep my collection of guitars and amps in the play room, with instruments of all sizes scattered about. There’s a drum kit and a piano in the basement. I’m not unlike other musician parents — like Julie Rustad, Trish and Chris of The Natch!, or rockdaddy Philip Dickey — who have played instruments or formed bands with their kids. I envisioned days spent making tracks on Garage Band with my special guy. 

[RELATED: ‘I Started a Band with My Toddler’: The Nap Skippers’ Julie Rustad on Life and Gigging with a Wee One]

But aside from singing a few little lyrics here and there, Nathan shows no urge to play along with me. Like most little dudes, he identifies with my his dada — a baseball lover. He wants to play all sports all the time. I love sports too, but still: I can’t help but envy other parents whose minis want to be in their bands. 

As I navigate his instrument-free, singing-free life, I hope to remember that the most important thing I can do is encourage my child to try new things. Maybe my little guy’s destined to be a painter, computer programmer or an engineer. Maybe he needs another mentor who isn’t his mother, to guide him into a life of gigging or playing. 

Maybe I shouldn’t spend so much time thinking about these things. 

There’s still time for him to come around, to pick up a microphone or a guitar and fall in love.

He’s only six, after all. 

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy.

The Most Danceable Kiddie Record for Ska- and Punk-Loving Parents is Coming in September

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

Kids Imagine Nation — an Orange County-based, three-piece kids’ music group with members from ska band Suburban Legends — is releasing its second album, a cheerful party record that should be played while your 6-year-old frolics about in a bouncy house (or in the kitchen). The record, simply titled Kids Imagine Nation Two,  comes out in September. I’ve already listened and can attest that it’s loaded with lots of super high-energy tunes — my favorites are “Rock Party” and the hilarious kiddie workout accompaniment “Exercise.” 

TWO album artwork

The album is the perfect anthem for Southern California parents who skate or listen to lots of ska, surf rock or West Coast punk fans. Preschoolers will vibe on the good energy. Think of it this way: If Gwen Stefani launched a kiddie music side project, this is what it would sound like. 

Speaking of which, if you’re in Los Angeles, check out the group’s early morning performance at The Grove on October 4, filled with more original songs and stories that entertain and inspire kids. 

Jessie Baylin Talks Music, Making New Record ‘Strawberry Wind’ and Baby No. 2

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom 

Jessie Baylin’s smoky voice, whimsical spirit and adorable songs have made Strawberry Wind — an Amazon Original album available for digital download through Prime Music — one of my family’s favorite summertime jams. 

Rockmommy recently caught up with Nashville-based Baylin, who in April welcomed son Oliver Francis Followill with husband Nathan Followill (of Kings of Leon), and big sister Violet. 

Here, Jessie shares her inspiration for the new album, dishes on her love of great food and tells us why the struggle for balance is real. 

Rockmommy: Tell me about Strawberry Wind (loved “Supermoon” video). What inspired this record? Is it true you were pregnant during the recording?

Jessie Baylin: This record was something I wanted to explore for a long time. Amazon gave me the opportunity to make it and it was inspired by my daughter and also the dreamer and the child within all of us. I was pregnant when we recorded Strawberry Wind! I didn’t know I was until about a week after we finished the album that there was indeed a strawberry boy in my belly. haha.

Rockmommy: How is motherhood influencing your creative process?

Jessie Baylin: It’s taken over my creative process a bit, ha! Though I have found that being a parent can be incredibly inspiring and filled with moments that are worth more than anything in this life, I still try and carve out time for when I can be creative. I am still in the newborn phase with my son so I am not quite there yet.

Strawberry-Wind-Cover-web-largeRockmommy: How’s the work-life balancing thing going? I hear you had a second child recently!

Jessie Baylin: Life at home is my priority, trying to figure out how to do this with two children. It is a lot but I’m rolling with it, and now that my son is sleep trained and on a schedule I think ill be able to see the light now.

[RELATED: Cheri Magill’s Tour Guide Chronicles Day-to-Day Adventures in Motherhood]

Rockmommy: In your spare time, what else do you like to do?

Jessie Baylin: I love to cook at home and connect with my friends. We have a lot of big dinners at the house on the weekends, and that brings me a lot of joy.

Rockmommy: Do you and your husband [Nathan Followill] try to carve out time to make music together? Or are you mainly doing your own creative things these days?

Jessie Baylin: Typically we don’t make music together though we love listening to albums together and discovering new records to listen to at the house. There’s always music playing around here.

Violet and Oliver courtesy of Jessie Baylin

Jessie Baylin’s little baby and his big sis.

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy.

Cardi B Fall Tour a ‘No Go’ as Singer Experiences the Pull of Motherhood

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

Cardi B has discovered that motherhood changes “everything, everything, everything.” Like many of us, underestimated how hard it would be to bounce back to her music career post-baby — specifically that six weeks isn’t enough time to properly get back to work, mentally or physically. 

In YouTube and Instagram updates posted last week, the new mama announced that she was postponing her fall tour with rockstar Bruno Mars because she needs to focus on raising her baby. 

“Doing a tour with Bruno Mars at the biggest arenas…. I won’t be able to dance properly, do choreography … and my mind is so weird,” she said. “Postpartum shit, it’s real.”

Check out her full diatribe below:

On a personal note, I was practically rolling on the ground when Cardi says her baby is like “gimme the milk NOW!” 

Anyone who’s had a newborn can attest to this. 

Or, as Cardi B puts it, “There’s this feeling that as soon as the baby came out that I have … it’s like … I can’t leave my baby for one second.”

[RELATED: Cardi B Sets a Bar for Playing a Gig While Pregnant]

Fortunately for her, Cardi B is a zillionaire and can afford to take a break from her career. But so many mothers cannot. Maternity leave — or rather, paid maternity leave — isn’t a government-granted privilege.

Most employers don’t give nearly enough paid time off (if they give any at all) to employees. The women at my kids’ daycare, for example, typically only take two or three weeks off before they have to go back to work. Because they’re hourly workers, and not salaried workers, they don’t receive disability payments or any compensation for not working. As this article rightly pointed out, maternity leave is an elite benefit. 

“I respect mothers more than ever now,” said Cardi B in her video. “I see mothers differently.” 

Let’s hope Cardi B’s realizations can lead to some advocacy for the millions of Americans who aren’t offered a single day off work following the birth or adoption of a child, and the 1 in 4 new moms go back to work 10 days after childbirth, according to PL+US research. 

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the founder and editor of Rockmommy.

Should Rocker Moms Change the Way They Dress After Having Kids? I Say No.

On the cover of my album “Sex & Guitars,” which I released more than ten years ago, I’m wearing a vinyl miniskirt, leaning back in a bed, guitar in arms, eyes seductively gazing into the camera. 

marisa-mini1I still love seeing this photo of me in my pre-kids, pre-marriage days — although (sadly) I don’t wear the vinyl skirt much anymore for lack of opportunity (it doesn’t feel quite right for a PTA meeting or mommy-and-me gym class). Perhaps I shouldn’t be sad: The black vinyl skirt represented a sexy, racy moment in 2008 that resonated with the album’s theme — love, careless flings and heartbreak. That moment felt amazing to live, and is wonderful to remember. 

Fast forward to 2018, and I’m a mom of two very young boys. And while I still rock a tight dress, I feel a little weird when I put clothes on that are provocative and un-momlike, at least in the traditional sense. This is true whether I’m going out with my girlfriends or playing a gig. 

[RELATED: “Baby Clothes with Guitars and Gender Roles”]

I’m not necessarily surprised by my feelings. Women are frequently slut-shamed for how they dress, and still expected to carry on differently when they become wives and mothers. I’ve heard more than one comment from certain relatives that I should give up bikinis in the summertime, although I find one-piece bathing suits uncomfortable. As such, there’s a tiny voice on rock show nights that asks, “Marisa, is that really appropriate for a mother to wear?” 

So today, as a favor to myself, I’m posting this photo of me in my favorite black mini dress, the stretchy one I tend to wear onstage these days, my parental status and age damned. I work out and eat healthfully — why shouldn’t I wear what I want? But even if I didn’t work out and eat healthfully, I should still be entitled to wear what I want. 

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From my band Grandma’s Mini’s DC gig at The Pinch in September 2017

I wholeheartedly believe in self expression: Anyone, regardless of their size or shape, should be able to wear the clothes that most resonate with their spirit, and makes them feel most beautiful. While there are certain events that dictate style — for example, I wouldn’t wear a vinyl skirt to a church service or a crop top to a parent-teacher conference — why should having kids mean I have to stifle my self expression on stage, when I am performing?

Of course, some have said my kids may feel weird as they get older, seeing mom dressing like a 25-year-old in a concert hall. But maybe they shouldn’t. Maybe we should challenge ageism and the idea that women who flaunt their bodies should cover up the minute they get pregnant, never reverting to their carefree youths. Maybe challenging flawed ideals will help our children embrace their own inner rockstars, however such self-expression manifests itself, when they are performing or creating art. 

OK, that was a mouthful. 

In all seriousness, I’d love to hear from my readers in the comments: Should rocker moms dress less provocatively after becoming parents? If so, to what extent? Are there any limits to self-expression in parenthood?

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the founder and editor of Rockmommy

Getting Emotional Over Rockstar Dave Grohl’s Daddy Moment

David Grohl is a rockstar in every sense of the word. I learned this firsthand when I finally got to see the Foo Fighters last night at a sold-out show at Madison Square Garden. He growls, yelps, roars and plays guitar like a motherf*cker — he also drops plenty of F-bombs, which is OK for him because, you know, he gets paid to drop them. It’s part of being Dave Grohl (I’ll try to remember that next time I feel guilty for cursing at my son’s daycare).

I could write a prolific review of his band’s sensational performance last night, a set that spanned the band’s 23 years of making music. But you can fetch a well-written review on plenty of other sites like this one.

[RELATED: Johnny Clay of Ants Ants Ants Discusses Making Music and ‘Soaking it All In’]

Instead, I’ll touch on what I found to be the most heartwarming part of the Foo Fighters’ performance: Daddy Grohl inviting his 12-year-old daughter Violet Grohl onstage to sing backup for several new songs: My favorite, by far, “The Sky is a Neighborhood”:

It is abundantly clear that Grohl is over the moon for his oldest little girl — between the hugs and his constant praise of her performance (he called her “the shining light and love of my life” during Monday’s set at MSG!). And it’s also pretty clear that she looks up to him, curse words and adult reminiscing of stoner days be damned. They had this funny exchange in the second half of the 2.5-hour set, where she was rolling her eyes at him, and he was embarrassing her with praise.

Here she is on the big screen:

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Violet Grohl, singing backup for the Foo Fighters on 7/17/2018

As a mom, I can only hope things are this great when my kids are 12!

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the founder and editor of Rockmommy.

Rockdaddy Johnny Clay of Ants Ants Ants Discusses Making Music and ‘Soaking it All In’

Each month, Rockmommy talks to parents who make music about life, work, play time and more. Today, we chat with rockdaddy Johnny Clay of Ants Ants Ants, a fun (and family friendly) musical project. Scroll down to check out their new music video for “Pinwheel” Ants Ants Ants

Rockmommy: When you think about fatherhood, what do you love best about being a dad?

Johnny Clay I love seeing them experience things – it definitely takes you back to being a kid and remembering what it was like. Hearing their perspective on things too. I’m lucky in that I get to walk my daughter to school every morning, and our walks are filled with her questions and observations about the world around her. I hope she never stops wondering about the world and asking questions.

Rockmommy: Tell me about your latest musical project — how did it come about?

Johnny Clay: It’s been a long time in the making. Friends have been encouraging me to write a kids’ record since our almost 8-year-old was born. But it wasn’t until we starting seeing clips of classic Sesame Street songs and School House Rock songs that I really got inspired to do it. Such wonderful music. And when I saw “The Point” by Harry Nilsson again, that put it over the top.

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Rockmommy: Has your music changed since you became a dad? If yes, how so?

Johnny Clay: Well, I certainly wouldn’t have gone down this path as a songwriter had it not been for the kids – both our soon to be 8 year old and our 5 year old daughters are constantly inspiring new song ideas. The way kids think about things and notice things is just so amazing.  Whether it’s pointing out the “helicopter leaves” falling on the way to school, or asking what the biggest animal in the world is (and not believing how big a blue whale really is), their curiosity about the world around them is just so cool.

Rockmommy: What’s it like trying to balance music with parenthood? Are there other factors in the mix — e.g., time with a spouse or partner, a day job to pay the bills, etc.? Is your partner involved in the music project?

Johnny Clay: It’s definitely an adventure. I’m very, very fortunate in that music is my full-time job, so the kids are growing up with music constantly in their lives. They both feel comfortable hanging out in the studio with me and they see how songs get put together. I love seeing them sit down at the piano or the drums or whatever and play the instruments, see what they sound like. It’s not all on a computer. My wife Christi is a musician as well and so music is definitely a constant in our lives.

Rockmommy: What’s your advice to other rockin’ dads?

Johnny Clay: Probably the same advice I was given years ago: just to try and soak up this time with the kids, because it really does go by so fast. And of course keep rockin’!

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the founder and editor of Rockmommy.