Band practices shows and romance, and little time for anything else—these are the pillars of independent musicianship. It is a life of near-total uncertainty; high stakes and low pay, and the check is always in the mail. But they get by, one way or another, because it’s important. Everybody knows the show must go on, and if it ever stops the world will probably stop right along with it.
This burden to perform is a taxing one, and any half-conscious American under the age of 55 can see that playing in a band with any kind of serious intention is a tremendous effort. It’s a tough job that nobody has to do, and one that offers no guarantee for anything at all besides a hundred bucks at the end of the night and something good to remember tomorrow. It goes on and on, and time moves very fast here; when you live for it, and on it, taking a break is not an option.
If you are good there is always a show you can play, and if you’re really worth a damn you’ll play it. The Ramones toured for 22-years and never had a hit single, and now they are champions. You always play on, every weekend, wherever there is money, and hopefully people.
Some weeks are better than others. For Paul Fournier and James Hershey, and the rest of Wild Root, St. Patrick’s Day weekend was a fruitful one. On average the Bradenton-based indie/funk outfit plays three gigs a week, so it was not different in that regard or in a financial one; rather, the band’s doubleheader Saturday brought much exposure. At both shows the crowds were large and enthusiastic—lots of singing and dancing and drinking. They played in the evening downtown for the St. Patrick’s Day celebration on Old Main Street, and later that night at Dcoy Ducks on Anna Maria Island.
On Sunday, their arms were full. By Thursday it was time once again to load up the gear and head to the bar. They did this the same way a backbroken fisherman returns to sea after unloading big catch—deliberately, and with big strides. It is a routine of business and passion, and it becomes your life.
Paul and James are both in their middle-twenties. They share a 3-bedroom house in Palmetto. In the dining room, instead of a table there is a drum set and keyboard and amps and guitars, and microphones, microphone stands and chords and pedals everywhere, and also music stands and pens and straps, and the little paper packagings that guitar strings come in individually.
Like other dining rooms, there is no door leading into this one. The instruments and music accessories spill out all over the house, and have made it like decorated with instrument cases and guitar picks, and the purple or pink plastic outer packagings that guitar strings come in, etc.
It is a close drive to downtown Bradenton, which is good, because the band frequently plays there and a long trip home at 3 a.m. is never preferable. Though, it does happen, and lately has been happening more and more.
Wild Root’s presence is growing exponentially in the Manasota and Tampa Bay Areas; Paul and James and the rest work hard to maintain momentum, and—contrary to other patterns of the day—from what I’ve observed Wild Root’s success is due more to their live show than the band’s social media activity. The emphasis is on the music, which is not always the case. And this works well for Wild Root, because Wild Root is a very good band.
I write this with great qualms regarding objectivity, but do believe the statement to be an indisputable fact and will even go as far to say that if you listen to Wild Root and don’t like it, there is something wrong with you. I am not a medical doctor, but this not a medical matter; it has more to do with mojo.
We discussed all of this last Thursday, sitting around the living room using empty paper guitar string packagings for coasters. I stopped by for other reasons, and before we could really get into the thing it was time for them to head down to the Roo to set up. It was an all night gig, and after brief consideration I decided to attend.
The crowd was not large, but there were at least fifty people in the bar, which is good enough for funk. On nights like this the band is able to engage more with those in attendance, which is a good way to turn people into fans.
The Lost Kangaroo Pub is a local staple. On many nights it is completely packed—overflowing with Good Time Charlies and every girl they know—but it was not surprising to find a lackluster scene there less than a week after St. Patrick’s Day.
Many in Bradenton were still reeling from the delayed effects of the holiday, and some had yet to even wake up. But these things happen. The band played on. Tomorrow night they were playing at Evie’s Tavern and Grill on 53rd Avenue, by Bayshore High. They’ve been getting a good bit of studio work done lately, and expect to release another single next month.
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