5 Ways the Hella Mega Tour Rocked My Summer

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

Like everyone who snagged tickets to the Hella Mega Tour — a stadium concert starring post-grunge legacy bands including Green Day and Weezer, joined by Fall Out Boy and my current favorite, The Interrupters — I was stoked and charged up. I couldn’t wait for the punk rock/alt rock event of the summer of 2020. 

Fast forward to August 2021, after a year and a half of live-music abstinence, when we finally parked at Citi Field. To say I had developed a renewed appreciation for live music would have been a huge understatement. I felt an excitement not unlike that of my earliest teen years, when going to a large stadium rock show felt decadent and thrilling — and rebellious. 

To some extent it was “rebellious,” although I’m an adult mom who can go where she pleases. I was rebelling against recommendations to stay home, given the delta variant. 

Me and my hubby at Citi Field on 8/4/21 for the Hella Mega Tour.

Nevertheless, savoring the show was so right for so many reasons. Here are 5 ways it charged my depleted spirit in the uncertain summer of 2021, when the U.S. got a “breather” of normalcy before the big Covid whiplash.

1. It took me back to my roots. I grew up listening to rock n’ roll, and was turned onto punk and ska in the late 90s. Unlike other rock genres, there’s an urgency in the pacing — barre chords in quick succession — that I’m drawn to. I’ve loved other artists from other genres, but I’m always 16 when I hear bands like Green Day and The Interrupters. 

2. I saw Weezer for the first time. Somehow I missed seeing Weezer in my youth. It’s not like I didn’t hear “Buddy Holly” on the 99.1 WHFS — the FM radio alt-rock station in Washington, D.C. I did. But I’d never seen Weezer, or Rivers Cuomo, live. He was so badass, strapping on his V-shaped guitar and singing — and he sounded exactly like he always had, age be damned. I sung along to at least half the set — most notably, the cover of Toto’s “Africa.” 

Singing along with Weezer’s version of “Africa” at the Hella Mega Tour stop at Citi Field

3. I realized Green Day only gets better with age. I actually wasn’t a huge Green Day fan in high school. Of all the alternative music I was exposed to, Green Day felt so mainstream compared with, say, The Lunachicks or Murphy’s Law. In my 20s, I would cringe as my ex-boyfriend would play the first three chords for ‘When I Come Around.’ That changed when I saw the band perform live, bringing an unstoppable energy to the stage. Billy Joe Armstrong is a force of nature. 

“Roam” (Trashing Violet) on Spotify

4. I got to sing along to The Interrupters. Doug, the bass player for my band Trashing Violet, who is now a good friend, introduced me to The Interrupters in mid-2019, when were debating cover songs to play. Aimee Interrupter sounded so much like Brody Dalle, but with a touch less angst. I was hooked when I heard “Take Back the Power,” and within months “Kerosene” became my personal theme song. I can’t believe I’d missed the band’s earlier albums, pre-Fight the Good Fight, but to be fair, I was preoccupied with raising toddlers between 2013 and 2018. 

5. the show helped me forget about Covid, even if for a night. This stupid virus isn’t even worthy of capitalization. I hate it so, so much. I hate the fact that we cancelled a show with my friends Shame Penguin because of the delta variant, and I hate that my kids have to wear masks to school to stay safe. So it was nothing short of ecstatic bliss when my vaccinated husband and I wove through the T-shirted, tattooed masses in Citi Field to find our seats. To live again, and relish the pure joy of live rock and roll, felt so good and indulgent. I have never appreciated music more — and I cannot wait to see another summer stadium show soon.

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy. 

Superstar Bassist Divinity Roxx — Who’s Toured with Beyoncé — Drops Uplifting Back-to-School Jam (and Practice Tips)

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom 

Grammy-nominated bassist Divinity Roxx made a name for herself playing R&B, funk and hip hop alongside musicians like Beyoncé. But’s it’s her solo bass slapping and lyrical riffs — poetic, hypnotic, and pointed — that take me to a different headspace (check out ‘Rebel’ here)

This fall, Divinity’s creating more of that — for the next generation. Her latest song (and video) “Ready Set Go!” is funky, fun and inspiring tune that we all need now, after the most challenging academic year in modern history.

“Put that pep in your step, put that pride in your stride,” she sings to the beat as a cool keyboard-and-bass melody flutters underneath, urging the listener to embrace the day.

Divinity Roxx

“When I started writing the lyrics, they seemed to write themselves,” Divinity Roxx tells Rockmommy. “I wanted to talk about being prepared for a new day and everything that goes into that. I wanted kids to feel like every new day is filled with possibility and as long as they were prepared, they could meet that possibility with success.”

We recently caught up with Divinity to talk about making music, theory and the best way rockmommies like me (with small hands and limited time) should practice.

Rockmommy: Hi Divinity! For our readers who don’t much about you, how would you describe your music?

Divinity Roxx: My music is a mood elevator, a culmination of all the genres that have inspired me over the years based on hip-hop and funk. 

Rockmommy: How long have you been playing bass? Did you start with another instrument? 

Divinity Roxx: I’ve been playing the bass since my 2nd year in college. I played the clarinet throughout elementary and middle school.

Rockmommy: This song “Ready Set Go!” is such a perfect ‘back to school’ anthem right now. It’s super catchy! How was this created? 

Divinity Roxx: Ready Set Go! was created initially as part of a pre-k curriculum. They were looking for a song about being prepared, so I thought the title ‘Ready, Set, Go!’ was perfect. When I sat down to write it I wanted to create something really fun and catchy. 

One of my favorite songs is ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ (I’m not kidding). It is the simplest song, yet it is so profound, lyrically and musically. It will also stand the test of time. I’m always striving to write a song with all of those qualities. Twinkle is also in the key of C. I wanted ‘Ready Set Go! to be in the key of C but I didn’t want a typical 1, 4, 5 progression. So, I used a bit of my theory knowledge and started playing chords on the piano around the key of C but starting on F major, and eventually, I began making my way around the progression of the song, which still turned out to be a 4, 1, 5 kinda thing. 

After looping that for a bit and adding the drums, I picked up the bass and began playing around the progression. The line started writing itself. I’ve learned to let the bass do that. I try to interfere but the bass is usually telling me what it wants to do, and it’s always right. 

My favorite part of the song is the bassline, especially in the 2nd half of the chorus. It kinda feels like that Atlanta skating rink vibe. I’m from Atlanta and I used to love skating at the skating rink. My dad would take us there on the weekends. The DJ kept the party going so I wanted to keep the party going in the song. When I started writing the lyrics, they seemed to write themselves. I wanted to talk about being prepared for a new day and everything that goes into that. I wanted kids to feel like every new day is filled with possibility and as long as they were prepared, they could meet that possibility with success.

Rockmommy: How was the video produced? It’s so fun! 

Divinity Roxx: I wanted to make a lyric video because we didn’t have much of a budget to hire a videographer and do the whole music video production hullabaloo. We (my wife and I) set up two tripods and recorded the video with our phones (iPhone and Android) in front of a green screen in our apartment. We spent a day recording me by myself performing the song in my home studio. Then we asked our little primo and my Goddaughter if they’d like to be in the video. 

They loooved the song and had been singing it for months so it was only right to have Sofia and Ryan join us. Again, in front of the green screen in our apartment, after their parents said yes, of course. I was resistant to editing the shots myself because there were so many good shots to choose from and I wanted someone else who was looking at it from a different vantage point to choose the best shots so I had a friend of mine who is a talented video editor edit the video.

I had found a company online to do the graphics and sent them some reference ideas about how I wanted it to look and they knocked it out of the park. Lyricvideo.tv. Those guys are great. I think they’re based in India.

Rockmommy: What are some of the best musical moments you’ve experienced this summer? 

Divinity Roxx: This summer, while strange, has afforded me some awesome musical moments. I was really excited about a song I was featured on, ‘Family Reunion’ with a fellow Family Music artist, Fyutch. I also played my first Family Music live show at Levitt Pavilion in Westport, Conn. That was exciting. And I played an adult show in Tenafly, N.J. and gained a new group of fans. I hadn’t played live in a long time so it was great to get back on the stage. Still got it… ;). 

Rockmommy: What are you looking forward to, or hoping for, for the fall? 

Divinity Roxx: I’m looking forward to releasing a full-length Family Music Album titled ‘Ready Set Go!’ in October and I’m also looking forward to releasing my next single, ‘Happy and Healthy’ in September alongside an even cooler project that I can’t disclose at the time but I really hope I’m able to share it with Rockmommy when it drops. 

Rockmommy: How can I get better at playing bass while trying to juggle everything else in my life?

Divinity Roxx: Try to use the time when you are practicing to experience some joy. If you set a 20-minute timer to “practice” be sure that you split that time up into sections, with a warm-up (1-2 minutes), some focused scale stuff (5-7 mins), and then some jamming (playing songs, making up songs, jamming along to records, etc) (12 mins).

And/or switch off between focused practice and focused fun. I think when we start a new instrument as adults (especially when we already play an instrument), we spend too much time judging ourselves and whether we sound good, or whether we’re improving-which means we aren’t having any fun. Playing music is supposed to be fun. And if you only have 20 minutes, then make it the most fun 20 minutes of your day.

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy.

Getting Kids to Practice their Musical Instruments is Harder Than I Realized

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

“Logan, can you practice your piano please?” 

It’s a question asked daily, sometimes three times, to my 7-year-old Beethoven-loving son. And the response is almost always the same:

“NOT NOW!!”

To which, I’ll usually follow:

“YES NOW!”

To which, he’ll caterwaul:

“Not yet, mom!”

It’s unbelievably frustrating. I try to be patient, because badgering my kid is not how I envisioned I’d spend motherhood.

I never took piano lessons as a kid. I’d just play with the keys on the baby grand at my grandmother’s house, trying to figure out how the sounds could make a song. I learned “Chopsticks” from Nana, and the tail end of a few other songs from my friend Karina. I didn’t pick up an instrument (other than the recorder) until I was 16, and no one offered me lessons. I didn’t know what “Middle C” was until deep into my 20s.

So when I’m nagging my son to practice piano, I’m frustrated. Why won’t he do it on his own? Doesn’t he realize how lucky he is that I’m paying for lessons? What should I do to encourage him to pick it up (without my asking)?

My son Logan, practicing piano with his bear Ludwig watching.

The irony is that I always prided myself on getting kids to practice guitar, before I became a mom. Since becoming a guitar teacher 2006, I’ve learned to create challenging but manageable practice schedules for kids. While some kids don’t practice at all, at least 70% of my students over age 7 do, at least twice a week.

[SEE RELATED: 6 Ideas for Getting Your Kids to Practice Between Lessons]

But man, being a mom is different than being someone’s music teacher.

I’m keeping this post short because I have to go remind my little pianist, yet again, to practice his keys. I have to remind him that Ludwig Van Beethoven practiced every day, for hours and hours, before he became a master of the keys.

So if you’ve mastered the art of getting your little ones to eagerly play their piano, guitar, or whatever — even when they’d rather play video games, I want to know your secret. How are you encouraging your budding musician to build his or her repertoire and skills?

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the founder and editor of Rockmommy.