About rockmommyct

I am a mother, writer, rock and roll musician, and guitar teacher.

Rocker Mom Gwen Stefani’s Mid-Life Mama Album is a Spectacular Comeback

It’s not easy being a mom over 40. Not only are you balancing demands from kids, time with your spouse, work, and a personal life, but you have to contend with aging. At 40-something, a woman no longer possesses a fresh-faced youth that turns heads. Sure, all women of every age are beautiful, but those who are approaching menopause are the ones who most relate to the struggle to stay sexy, from what I’ve seen.

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Gwen Stefani is a 46-year-old mom of three. Her breakup record is powerful and inspiring.

Given all these things, pop-rock star Gwen Stefani’s latest album, “This Is What the Truth Feels Like,” is a breath of fresh air for moms who aren’t 20-somethings anymore. Listening to it makes those of us in the over-35 category feel good about ourselves. If 46-year-old Stefani can emerge from a nasty divorce with an amazing work of art and a hot, young boyfriend, dammit, so can we!

Let’s set aside the age thing and the mom thing, for a moment.

“This is What the Truth Feels Like” is brimming with some damn good music. The first track, “Misery,” kicks things off with lustful musings set to a playful, peppy beat. It’s almost — though not quite — as catchy as the fun, ska-kissed “Where Would I Be?”, which transports the listener to “Hollaback Girl” days.

Several tracks in, we arrive at the first single, “Used to Love You,” a confessional piece that most of us have probably downloaded already. Hearing it again in the context of a 12-track record infused with boy-crush-inspired pieces gives it so much more power.

When we emerge from the sadness, the hip-hop ballad “Red Flag” and “Asking 4 It” (with Fetty Wap) get us singing and snapping again, energized and ready to go.

I’m not a fan of everything Stefani sings. There are definitely moments where I’m like, “why are these lyrics so trite? Doesn’t she have a team of writers?”

Still, taken as a whole, “This Is What the Truth Feels Like” does what pop music does best: It inspires and moves me. I’d be surprised if others — especially moms of my Gen X/Gen Y era — don’t emerge with the same feelings after just one listen.

Gig Time: 3/19 in Redding, CT

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Hey everyone! It’s that time again! Once in a rare while, I play a gig in my new home state of Connecticut.

I haven’t played the nutmeg state since 2013, when I was six months pregnant, so it is a huge treat that Michele and Morgan (aka, “M Power”) will be joining me this Saturday, March 19, 2016, at The Lumberyard in Redding, CT .

Also: Because the gig is in Fairfield County, I’ll be playing my acoustic-electric set — and two covers.

Show starts at 8 p.m.; we go on at 9 p.m.

Other details:

Lumberyard Pub & Sports Bar

2 Main Street

Redding, CT 06896

 

21 and over 🙂 and lots of great food and music from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m., including Catalina Shortwave.

Living Like a Runaway: On Meeting Lita Ford, Rock Mama and Metal Goddess

As I awaited the flesh-and-bones arrival of rock legend Lita Ford at the signing for her newly released memoir “Living Like a Runaway” in downtown Manhattan, I had no idea what to expect.

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Me and my friend Kendra at Lita Ford’s 2/23/16 book signing. I’m wearing my CBGB T-shirt signed by the Mother of Metal.

Sure, I knew I’d be among aging metal heads and middle-aged, black-clad dorks at a spacious and brightly lit Barnes & Noble. I also and that “Kiss Me Deadly,” her 1989 solo hit, would stream through the speakers at some point. But I didn’t know what kind of woman I’d encounter at showtime.

Would one of the baddest bad-ass women of rock and roll whose guitar shredding capabilities would put mine to shame roll her eyes at my surface-level experiences? Would the rocker mom with gnarly battle scars from the rough and sexist 1970s be approachable? Or, would the “mother of metal” possess a narcissistic demeanor instead of one of humble gratitude?

As I chatted away with one of the dudes sitting near me, Ford emerged from the back of the store in her skintight jeans and black stiletto booties, flanked by female journalist Jeanne Fury, who would engage in a Q&A with the singer. Immediately, I was taken in by her striking beauty. At 58, Ford— with her eyes lined in black and signature blonde hair that flowed behind her shoulders — is breathtaking. And as I would soon learn, she’s outspoken, intelligent, and pretty funny, too.

“It was just like I had this gift from God or something, that I was supposed to play heavy metal,” she told the small crowd after joking with the reporter that it was “first gig at Barnes & Noble.”

Like the new memoir, most of the talk focused on Ford’s rise stardom as the only female guitarist who could hang with the likes of Black Sabbath and would give Jimmy Page a run for his money (in the book she tells a funny story about meeting Robert Plant and being asked to play bass for Led Zeppelin).

She took the audience through her early years, when a-holes at bars would try to spill beer on her or guys from other bands would accuse her of swiping their guitar cables.

One of the best stories was her first memories of experiencing metal at her Black Sabbath show. “I wanted to make the audience feel what I felt at that show that night,” she said. “When I saw them, I thought, ‘that’s it.’ This is what I’m meant to do.”

Throughout Ford’s talk, it was hard to ignore the elephant in the room: The muddled circumstances of her divorce, and separation from her two young sons with whom she no longer has a relationship. It’s particularly heartbreaking to me, as I can’t imagine my tiny toddler boys shunning me in that way. It must be hell living with this aspect of reality, not being able to hold her sons as they grow into young men, or taking part in their day-to-day lives.

But if Ford is an angry woman who isn’t fit to be a mother, as her ex-husband has suggested,  I didn’t see it, nor did I sense it (and I have pretty good instinct). Instead, I witnessed a wizened lady enjoying her well-earned fame. Still, I told her I’d think “positive thoughts” and I did. Truly, I hope she gets to see her grown boys again, and experience their love.

Anyway, I’m so psyched to read the rest of this book!

When I got home from the NYC reading — and going home is a two-hour trek, mind you! — I found myself making more time to strum my chocolate-brown Gibson SG (which also happened to be the color and model of the first guitar she bought with her own money). I also felt younger, at heart. For all of the expectations imposed on older women, that we ought to dress in Chico’s once we hit 50, or develop a liking for Opera, I felt excited by the notion that older age doesn’t have to be boring or un-sexy. Cheers to Lita Ford for giving me that feeling!

Finally, a Bare and Naked Recording of “Ain’t No Man Gonna Like These Hands”

Call it the longest song title ever — for me! One of my favorite, and now signature, blues tunes is now a stripped-down acoustic performance, thanks to my computer and super-basic recording skills. I need to get up to speed with recording high-quality YouTube and Vimeo demos.

This particular song, “Ain’t No Man Gonna Like These Hands” was actually not written by me (it’s the only original I perform written for me, but by someone else). The writer is a talented amateur guitar player/lawyer/dad named Josh Wilkenfeld, whom I had the honor of teaching.

Here it is in all its naked glory (I’m performing it, in my late 30s, with no makeup! Oh, the horror!):

Snowstorms and Motherhood: A Reflection

Our family spent the weekend cloaked in white. As the first major snowfall touched down sometime between midnight and 7 a.m. on Saturday, I braced for the unpredictable — workouts would be missed, dinner would be centered on warmth and convenience, and cabin fever would set in. Fortunately, New England wasn’t clobbered with snow the way the mid-Atlantic was, but still: snow had fallen and everything in my routine had to be put on hold.

I must’ve become more laid back, in the past year. Over the course of my 20s and 30s, I’ve become a slave to routines and schedules. If I don’t work out 5 times a week, I get panicky about weight gain. If I have my kids all day, indoors, I get anxiety: How will I keep them entertained? What if we can’t go outside? What if they don’t give me a break? Somehow, this weekend I was able to let go of such concerns (for the most part).

Snow storms are beautiful for so many reasons. Like sickness, they stop the scheduling and planning, but you don’t have to be sick to enjoy their arresting beauty. They represent the best parts of winter, offering loads of opportunities for fun if you can just bear with the cold.

Last year’s constant barrage of snowstorms left me feeling spent and overwhelmed. While I appreciated how lovely they looked outside, I hated my spouse’s irritability over snow plowing and shoveling chores. I also hated driving in slippery conditions, and a lack of parking. And finally, I hated that some of my editors couldn’t lessen my work load just because it was snowing (I’ve since had to let go of certain editorial opportunities). Thankfully, I was able to teach most of my guitar lessons in a timely fashion, and write articles between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. when the house was quiet.

Today, I’m excited because I’m getting ready to take my 3.5-year-old out for his first time on a sleigh. Some of the hills I’ve been eyeing for our excursion are a bit worn down. I’m nervous as heck that I’ll do something wrong. But I’m going to give it my best shot anyway.

Things I Accomplished in 2015

Like most people, I’m a sucker for goal-setting around this time of year. “I’ll do this” or “I’ll do that” frequently crosses my lips each January 1st. But like an estimated 92% of Americans, I usually fall short of said resolution/goal. So while I’ve set a few modest goals (setting the bar low is the way to go, I’ve learned in my 30+ years on this planet), I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the things I accomplished in 2015:

  1. Stayed in shape. This one speaks for itself. I’m a mom of two toddlers. And while I have the benefit of working mostly in my own home, eating healthy meals and working out four times a week (when sometimes a ‘workout’ is limited to a 15-minute sprint around the block) isn’t easy. I did it!
  2. Played 2 shows in Brooklyn: Having been out of the band scene for quite a long time, playing a show was one of my BIG goals of ’15 — and I exceeded it. I had two amazing nights playing shows at Branded Saloon in Brooklyn with my friends Rew, Sharissa, Michele, Gail, Morgan, and Nora (half of whom are in my band Marisa Mini and the Underage Hotties).
  3. Finished my First novel, and started writing my second one. Yes!!! The novel I began writing in late 2009, The Year My Hair Was Red, is complete! Of course, there are major plot-revision/editing issues, so instead of putting my nose to the grind, I decided to start writing a new book. This book just popped into my head, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Before I knew it, I was writing and writing and …
  4. Won NANOWRIMO. I started and finished my first #Nanowrimo!
  5. Encouraged Nathan to try new foods. My older son is the pickiest eater on the planet. His diet consists of yogurt, hummus, and the occasional chicken nugget, piece of cucumber, or skinny fry. But three of those foods are now regulars. I also got him to eat shredded beets (by calling them red carrots). Next up: Pizza and grilled chicken.
  6. Spent most every Tuesday with both dudes. Two-dude Tuesday, the new lifestyle choice that kicked off in mid-2014, went full swing in 2015. January and February brought tons of snow and ice, which made #Twodudetuesday super challenging (we really got to know Elsa last winter!), but then spring and summer brought so many fun play dates and little adventures. Fall was even more exciting, with regular play dates with new friends.
  7. Got to the beach-beach 3 times. OK, technically I live at the beach, in a nice town just minutes away from slightly rough (but genuine) sand and the Long Island Sound. It looks like a beach, and almost feels like a beach. Still, going to the real beach that borders the Atlantic Ocean was a HUGE triumph for me (not to mention one of the trips was a real, actual family vacation with just the four of us). I love Montauk and I love Ocean City, different as they are.
  8. Celebrated 5 years with Zack. I’ll put it bluntly: Marriage is no f*ckin’ picnic. This year was harder than most, as the hubs and I tried to balance work and family time, while keeping the kids healthy and happy. There were lots of meltdowns. But I can’t imagine being a co-parent and wife to anyone else. I’m grateful for the marriage and family I ended up with, as well as the new Gibson SG my husband got me for our five-year mark!
  9. Ran 3 races. This represented another accomplishment in 2015! While I’ve done two Turkey trots since birthing two dudes, this year I completed my first overnight, 200-mile Ragnar Relay in Cape Cod with my buddies Heidi, Kat, Sean, Ke’Mani, Ryan & James. Then, I ran a very nostalgic Brooklyn Rock N’ Roll marathon with Kat.

I hope I do lots of great things, and accomplish great feats in 2016. But the goals I’m setting are modest. I’d like to see one live show, play 2 live shows (including one with Grandma’s Mini), give $10 a month to charity, and start using my new coffee tumbler when I go to Starbucks (to help the environment). I’d also like to run one half-marathon OR full marathon. Most important, I want to continue to work on being a better mother and wife.