Collaborative Radiance – Shining Brighter Together
Published on 08/30/2023
Backstage the guitarist wiped his brow, his heart still racing as he worked on catching his breath. The drummer flopped down in a big chair next to the refreshments table.
“Damn good show tonight” he said, and cracked a beer.
“Yes! The crowd just loved, I mean absolutely adored my voice tonight” said Roxy Jazz, the lead singer, holding her hands over her heart as she looked up and swayed back and forth a bit soaking up imaginary adulation.
“Well my solo really got them pumping” said the guitarist.
“Yeah. And my beats kept them in the groove all night long” added the drummer.
“But it’s my song guys. I wrote it. I sing it. The crowd loves it, loves me” said Roxy.
“I’m startin’ to get tired of this man. Every gig it’s the same, you taking all the credit every time” said the guitarist with a scowl.
“Oh don’t be such a baby.” said Roxy.
“Actually I’ve been thinking of quitting too.” said the drummer. “But yeah OK, we’ve got a sweet gig lined up next week, let’s see how it goes.”
“OK yeah, let’s see how it goes next week then.” said the guitarist.
The bar downtown was aglow with neon bouncing of disco balls, lighting up the biggest crowd this band had ever seen. I guess it’s a good thing we didn’t quit after all the guitarist thought to himself as he stepped into center stage for his next solo.
His riffs seemed to synchronize the party lights in waves over the audience as hands raised high swayed in rhythm. A 60’s style psychedelic tie-dye stood out from the front row. Oh my god, is that Jerry? wondered the guitarist as he finished out his solo.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a very special guest here with us tonight, Golden Mesa’s most famous all-time rocker, it’s Jerry!” the guitarist announced. A spotlight lit up Jerry from overhead as he turned and waved to the audience, head lowered in humble modesty.
“C’mon, get up here Jerry! We’d love to get you in on this next song of ours”
Jerry laughed softly attempting to conceal his shyness as he firmly shook his head. Seething at the momentary loss of attention, Roxy lifted her mic up to start the next song but was interrupted.
“Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!” chanted the crowd.
“Jerry, Jerry, Jerry” the drummer joined in, pulling Jerry up on stage with adoration. Jerry strapped on a spare guitar from back of the stage, and busted out a quick riff to the audience’s delight.
“OK yeah, it feels good to be back on stage” Jerry said over the guitarist’s mic as they stood close together eye to eye beaming in mutual admiration.
“3, 2, 1, go!” and the guitarist kicked-off the band’s newest hit. Jerry’s presence overshadowed Roxy’s furious glare and tightened lips while she rang out the first verse. The guitarist took half a step back, putting Jerry front and center for the chorus. Jerry closed his eyes in a trance, and put a spin on the mainline riff working the audience into a frenzy.
Enthralled in melody, Roxy’s natural talent rolled over her petulance, and her vocals rose up to the next level of harmonics with Jerry’s melody. The audience dancing was like an instrument of the band itself, pumping up the drummer’s fills in a bright crescendo. Roxy Jazz had subtly shifted stage right, and she began to feel more like an audience member than the lead singer during Jerry’s solo. From this angle the lighting gave her a clear view of bright faces in the crowd dancing and singing along. She relaxed her grimace and breathed more deeply, warmed by the glow of her fans. Looking back up on stage, Jerry also started to glow in her vision, his aura alive in the shining beauty of her composition. His energy continued steadily for the rest of the show, bonding the musicians onstage in waves of synergy.
Cheers and applause from the audience when the last song broke pulled the bandmates together, they stood close to the edge of the stage, clasped hands, and bowed as one. Late that night, Roxy lay awake in bed, her room lit by the glow of a full moon. We all shine brighter when we shine together she thought, and drifted off to sleep.
Their next gig was at a historic local pub, in an open air lawn backing up against a creek. There was no stage here, Roxy felt like she was singing in someone’s living room. She was struggling to hit the high notes, being so close almost mixed into the audience dampened her energy making it hard for her to project out passion like she usually does. The crowd was dulled too, exchanging curios glances unsure about the show that night. A few people turned away starting their own conversations, wondering if they should stay or go? Between songs Roxy whispered to her guitarist, “Why don’t you try out that new riff that Jerry played with us last weekend?”
“Are you sure? That’s not the way you wrote it?” he asked.
“Yeah, yes go for it!”
In the chorus of the next song the guitarist played “Jerry style”, and the small crowd lit up in response. Energetic guitar melodies gravitated the crowd closer together, encircling the band. Side conversations faded into whooping, faces bright with dancing. The band finished out their set strong, pulsed with renewed connection to their fans through music. After the show, as the band packed up their gear in a cool evening breeze, they congratulated each other on their best performance to date.
“We should collab with other musicians more often.” said Roxy.
“I, I’m surprised to hear that coming from you Roxy” said the guitarist.
“Shocked” said the drummer, “But yeah, totally agreed. I’ll probably regret saying this, but you do have a killer singing voice. You should make some guest appearances, you know with other local bands around here.”
“Yeah, I know this group, some new guys, kinda indie rockers” said the guitarist, “They’re recording their second album now, and they could use an extra set of vocals on their B-side track. Why don’t we join them in the studio next week?”
The studio downtown was cramped with Roxy and her guitarist sitting in, but the live room felt brighter that Wednesday morning having fresh talent join the indie rockers.
“Your vocals are amazing, really makes our track pop” said the indie drummer.
“Yeah, thank you so much for sitting in today, we’re gonna go big on Spotify for sure” added the indie guitarist.
“Awww, you guys are the best, thank you for having me” said Roxy, “Your harmonies are truly special, I’m totally inspired, can’t wait to get home and sketch out some new songs.”
“You know guys, I’ve been working on a new song myself.” said the guitarist “I think it would be the perfect fit for this group right here, can we give it a try?”
“Well this is news to me? Why haven’t you shared your new song with us before?” asked Roxy.
“Because.” said her guitarist, looking down “Because you only seem to like the songs you write yourself”
“Well not anymore darlin’“ said Roxy, “Let’s give it a go”
“Alright then, it goes a little somethin’ like this …”, and with that the studio was a whirlwind as fellow musicians bounced riffs back and forth, quickly learning the new song.
“I think we got it, I think that was the one!” the indie guitarist said as they finished recording the third time through.
“Yes it is darlin’“ said Roxy, “That’s a take that’s gonna shine on for the ages.”
“You know Roxy, there’s a festival at the end of the month, over at the park in historic district” said the indie guitarist, “And we’re gonna be opening, why don’t you join us? We could debut our new song here live!”
Roxy leaned back, hands on her heart, “Why yes, absolutely, we’d be absolutely honored to be up onstage with you guys”
The sun chased all shadows away in the early afternoon on the day of the festival, but the stage appeared dull in its emptiness waiting for the next band to step up before the grassy fields. People were still scattered about, more interested in merch, food, and beer as they congregated in small groups on the sidelines. Roxy, her band, and the indie rockers went unnoticed as they stepped into position after setting up their gear.
“Welcome … To … The .. Shoooooow” Roxy sang out, if drink cups had been glass they would’ve shattered on her trailing high note. Roxy’s guitarist faced off with the indie rocker guitar player in a random jam energizing the crowd. People rushed up to the stage from all over, one fan tripped and fell halfway there, but bolted right up and continued in stride. The two bands together synergized into their first song, debuting that newest single that Roxy’s guitarist wrote. The crowd dancing to this new song they have never heard before was like daybreak after a long stormy night. They didn’t know the words, but it didn’t seem to matter; eyes closed and hands waving high swaying in rhythm. Synced in the beats from drummers behind, Roxy’s voice harmonized with guitar melodies in competition with the sun for visceral attention. The stage was shining now, as if the bands were performing for each other as much as their fans. The concert continued into the night as the bands played long sets energized with harmony. Backstage after the show, musicians’ bodies glowed, radiating reverberating performance energy.
“You look like you’ve lost a good ten pounds” Roxy ’s guitarist said to her with a hug.
“You know, this festival was just the kick-off for the season.” said an indie rocker “We should go on tour together”
“Absolutely. No doubt about it.” said Roxy, she had an extra sway in her step as she walked from the refreshments table with a cool water. Roxy Jazz, her band, and the indie rockers started planning things out the following week.
And Roxy spent more time in the studio between shows recording with up and coming artists. Her schedule was busier than ever but she was more in tune with her music, writing fresh lyrics and new melodies for her band as well as to share with her new partners. Walking down the street in the cool of the afternoon after a recording session, she was thinking about her upcoming concert that weekend, the last of the year, when a full moon greeted her.
She looked up slightly with a pause after opening her car door, We really do shine brighter when we shine together.