Resolutions, for me, are a thing of my pre-kid ’20s. I’d make sweeping declarations, like “I’m going to lose 10 pounds” or “I’m going to play piano” as if they were easy feats, only to find that the post-holiday afterglow waned within the first few days of January.
Today, having had two kids, I’ve learned that big, sweeping resolutions are super unrealistic.
What’s worked better: Small goals, like committing to playing 10 minutes of guitar per day, every day, except on vacations. I did this in 2019. In 2020, my goal was to play 12 shows in one year. This was a big goal, considering the last time I played regularly with a band was in 2011. But in spite of Covid, I did it!
It’s been quite a year — and definitely not the one anyone expected 365 days ago. There’s no way to sugarcoat how terrible it’s been, between the pandemic, racial tensions and political strife.
I count myself as lucky, but still experienced a lot of pain and sadness. I haven’t been to Maryland, my home state, since March, and haven’t seen my family in months. My poor kids have had to endure nearly a year of part-time or full-time “home school” — and while their dad has a master’s in education and I’m a guitar teacher, helping them learn was harder than we expected!
But there are so many silver linings to the 2020, and I need to take a moment to share a few of them right now:
Both of my kids learned how to ride their bikes. Bye, bye, training wheels!
I spent 1 out of every 2 days at the beach between May and October.
I set out a resolution to play 12 shows in 2020 and I DID IT!! My band Trashing Violet knocked out four in January and February, and between 3 livestream solo gigs on Facebook, and one neighborhood driveway gig on 6/21 (Make Music Day), I also played a party with my band, and a fun Halloween gig on our drummer’s driveway for his neighbors. Oh yeah, I played First Friday Norwalk (solo) with my friends Castle Black, and The Cellarwith my husband and friends (with my kids watching).
Orchestrated a GRGR(Girls Rock Girls Rule) reunion show in Brooklyn with my crew — Michele, Rew & Gail — in February before the apocalypse came.
Interviewed at least 30 artists/musicians/rockmommies
ran a camp for my kids all summer
experienced more things outdoors in cold weather than I ever thought possible, with and without heat lamps (who thought we’d own one?!). I’ll never forget that night in December when my band practiced in our drummer’s backyard in 15-degree weather.
Grew Rockmommy‘s followers and published a ton more content.
Learned the basics of DIY home recording, and purchased my first-ever PA, bass, and professional microphone/console set.
Spent so much time with my spouse and kids. I love them so much and am so grateful they have my back.
So here’s to looking forward, and taking on the future with gratitude. I’m hoping for the best for humanity and everyone I love. Thank you for reading this blog, and for being a valuable part of the #Rockmommy community. XOXOX and Happy New Year!
I love Miley Cyrus’ music so much that I cover two of her songs on the regular — “Malibu” and “Wrecking Ball.” The first one speaks to me for so many reasons; it mirrors a short period in my life when I felt exhausted and apologetic for taking the little things for granted. The second one is tear-jerkingly beautiful and powerful — and one of the greatest songs ever written.
I just started listening to Miley Cyrus’ new record Plastic Hearttoday, and it’s brilliant. Here’s why I’m so excited about it.
1. Things are dark AF right now.
We need a fierce, balls-out babe rocking our world right now. Miley made the record that will fix your broken December, with its face mask mandates and axed holiday visits. It will fix your head, as you drive down the highway, nostalgic for warm rehearsal spaces and gigs at dive bars. Thank you, Miley, for saving me from the depths of 2020 misery.
2. Joan Jett and Billy Idol Make an appearance.
Not gonna lie, the first track I streamed was “Bad Karma,” featuring orgasmically rich uh-huh huhs that would make Julia Michaels shiver. Joan Jett’s never sounded hotter, and neither has Billy Idol on “Night Crawling,” which is sultry and a touch goth. Yes, I’m swooning from my chair, over here in the suburbs of Fairfield, Connecticut.
3. Her voice keeps getting better.
Like fine, red wine, Miley’s vocals have aged beautifully, and on Plastic Hearts, we can appreciate their weathered, lived-in smokiness. Pitchfork’s Shaad D’Souza puts it perfectly in noting, “her sandpapery alto has never sounded more natural.”
4. She keeps proving the haters wrong.
After the 2013 MTV Awards twerking incident, Miley Cyrus underwent a serious identity crisis — stuck for years between the innocent Hannah Montana persona and full-blown womanhood. But no matter how many people called her stupid or over-sexualized, or blamed her for setting a bad example, Miley held her head high and moved forward. She continued to live her life authentically, write music, sing, show up for her family, make time for charitable events and — eventually — attempt to get sober. Who among us hasn’t struggled with identity crisis or regret? I’m sure there are stupid dudes who will look at the headline for this blog, roll their eyes, and mutter something under their breath about how dumb it is for a grown-a*s woman to rhapsodize her love of the former Hannah Montana star. They can all suck it.
5. That “Zombie” cover is so on point.
I could write a sentence or two about how many dude-infused rock bands have tried to cover this ’90s classic from The Cranberries. But instead, I’d like you to use your time to listen to it here, in its raw, guttural beauty. Spoiler alert: It’s MUCH better than any other “Zombie” cover you’ve heard.
Like the best of artists, Miley doesn’t let herself fall into one category, like country or pop. While Plastic Hearts is a rock record, there’s a country-esque tune (“Angels Like You”), which bring out her Nashville drawl, and a fun, nightclub-vibe track with the girl-of-the-moment Dua Lipa (“Prisoner”). It’s so, so good, and suddenly I find myself wanting to drive a delivery truck.
7. She wears her heart on her sleeve.
Miley’s struggled with losses in love, addiction, and trauma from the recent California wildfires, which burned down the Malibu home that inspired her love song to ex hubby Liam Hemsworth. Staying sober is no picnic, especially in Covid times, and Miley’s had a few slips. But she’s real. And real is exactly what we all need right now. Happy listening, mamas.
Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the founder and editor of Rockmommy.
It’s been quite a week, to say the least. I’m in desperate need of sleep, like many of my friends who have been anxiously awaiting the results of the 2020 elections in a year that’s already reaching new levels in universal anxiety.
So, let’s pause for a moment, and take a deep breath.
Heck, let’s dance!
The video for New Wave duo Camp Crush — real-life Portland, Ore., #rockmommy Jennifer Deale & her hubby Chris Spicer — is here, in perfect timing. And it’s so much fun!
Of course, to be fair to CC, there’s more to this song than meets the eye: Read American Songwriter’s review for more context.
Nevertheless, the infectious beat is all I want to hear.
If you feel like celebrating, this is the absolute best DIY video you’ll see all day. And by the way, how appropriate is the band name Camp Crush right now? I’m feeling like me and my brothers and sisters of the Blue Wave are crushing it, right this moment.
It’s been a busy few days without the added stress of life under our current administration/COVID and I’ve had precious little time with my beloved guitars — my FenderStrat, Gibson SG, and Yamaha acoustic (of course, I have 7 others, but these are my three favorites).
As my eyes glazed over news headlines this morning, I caught a glimpse of a video from the artist H.E.R., playing guitar like a bandit.
In September, H.E.R. became the first black female artist with a signature guitar, a gorgeous Fender Stratocaster that’s as jaw dropping as an Oscars gown.
I’d never heard of H.E.R. before the announcement, but her music — rock meets soul meets R&B meets reggae — is pretty awesome. She’s so badass — I wish I had that kind of presence and confidence at 23.
The guitar, Fender, and H.E.R. give me hope during these dark days. No one loves seeing young women play instruments more than me. I just wish I had the space for all of them, but my basement, where most instruments reside, is currently a sea of Legos. Anyway, Happy Wednesday! Enjoy the video.
I am an MOB — a mother of two boys, 8 and 6 years old. They know mama is a singer and a songwriter, and that she gets dressed “fancy” from time to time to go out and make music in the world.
Before that, I was a supple, younger woman who sang in a coffee shop for tips on Larchmont Blvd. with a three-piece jazz band and then later, workshopped my own songs in that same coffee shop. I was a woman who traveled the world singing in the finest of music lounges in far off, distant places including New Delhi and Beijing.
And before any of that, I was a mixed-race girl (African American/ Irish American) growing up in the city of angels, who rollerskated in her backyard to her favorite albums — and her dad’s record collection — Donna Summer, the O’Jay’s, the ET soundtrack and OMD.
She dreamed as she skated, that she would one day be famous.Known. Seen. Important.
I have been insecure about my place in the world for a long time. As a parent, that is a quality I’m hoping skips my kid’s generation. But I know that outcome requires conscious effort on my part and even then, there are no guarantees.
I write music that uplifts, inspires and encourages me. It is my safe place. I write music that speaks a truth I am desperate to put into the world as my default tendency is to keep it locked inside so that I don’t make other people uncomfortable.
In writing my song “Rally Call,” I consciously chose to do the opposite.
I wrote it because I was at a point where I no longer wanted to compartmentalize myself due to the color of my skin. I was done with erasing myself for someone else’s comfort and I was done with buying into the false belief that I needed to wait for someone else’s permission to live my life.
When I think about parenting my kids, I want to get it “right.” That means making sure they never feel rejected, hurt or disempowered, that they’re always invited to every birthday party (pre-covid) and that they feel like anything is possible at all times. I know, I know — a parent’s perfect formula for disappointment and self-judgment.
I want my boys to be compassionate people. I want them to be proud of all their heritage — being black, being mixed, being part Irish, being part English, being part Jewish. I want my boys to be confident enough to stand up when someone is working from a closed heart and to know the truth of who they are.
Rally Call is a small part of the recipe for making all this possible. Watching their mom put out a song about ‘getting rid of those papers’ — a reference to a time when Black Americans had to actually carry papers to show they had a right to be out without a white person — and no longer waiting for permission from someone outside herself to fully be herself is inspiring.
It normalizes doing challenging things. It normalizes loving oneself. It normalizes speaking out when injustice is present.
We as parents have an opportunity to instill self-love, growth mindset, compassion and courage in the souls we’ve been asked to shepherd. We get to do that in a plethora of creative ways.
My goal in sharing this music is for us all to keep getting into ‘good trouble’ when we feel like slinking back onto our couch and scrolling our phone or watching shows to distract ourselves.
My boys love the song. They love the guitar riffs, the drums. They know some of the lyrics. And truth be told, there are some days when I’m grateful they don’t fully know what the song is about: I’m still trying to get right with god, the universe, or whatever it is that pulls the strings of life, about my needing to have a conversation about black lives matter at all.
It’s a delicate, complex melody to be a conscious parent, to be an advocate for kids loving and accepting themselves in a world that doesn’t support ALL kids in this endeavor. It is a delicate, complex rhythm change to move out of stereotypical thinking into radical love.
And I can only imagine the nuance and tension of being a parent of non kids of color — there is the temptation to overlook or turn away from the truth of people of color’s experiences.
Rally Call is my love letter to America — reminding us all that until we’re willing to own all the parts of ourselves, our country’s entire history, only then will we truly have a chance at being free…and isn’t that what we want for our kids?