Friday, August 12, 2011

Permission to Scream Out Loud

There's a scene in Coyote Ugly that a friend once said reminded him of me.

Violet (played by Piper Perabo) is a songwriter with big dreams...and stage fright. But (naturally) the only way she can get someone to pay attention to her songwriting is to sing. Her waiter boyfriend works with her patiently to help her build her confidence. In the end--the genre being what it is--she overcomes her fears, belts it out, and lo and behold, her song is picked up by Leanne Rimes, and she and Leanne and Violet's dad, played by John Goodman, end up performing and prancing around together in the Coyote Ugly bar.

Me, I'm a pretty reserved person. In fact, when I was younger, I was shy to the point of being voiceless in a crowd. But this friend, and others, helped me come out of my shell. My own Coyote Ugly experience came one night at a local tavern when friends catcalled my name until I got on stage and did a 30-second booty shake in front of EVERYONE. It's a night that my now-husband, then-friend, says he still thinks about regularly. (Take that, Piper Perabo!)

But, I still get shy sometimes, feeling too serious and too grownup for silly fun. At concerts, I usually stand and do the body twitch in time to the music, along with all the other 30-somethings. So it's awesome when a band like Cowboy Mouth comes along, as they did during the recent opening of our local Kroc Center, and gives you permission to act out. Drummer, lead vocalist and band founder Fred LeBlanc won't let you take yourself too seriously. Right at the start, he jumped off stage and began cajoling, then ordering, "Come a little bit closer, come on, come a little bit closer. Hey you! in the Hawaiian shirt! Come a little bit closer!" until we were all moshed together near the stage. "I promise you, you will leave this concert feeling 100 percent better than when you came!" Then, as the thrumming of the guitars grew louder, "Come on, give me some rhythm, give me some rhythm," and once we were all clapping in unison, "Now, jump up and down and scream like you are five years old and you've had way too much Kool-Aid!"

I have to admit, I fell a little bit in love with Fred LeBlanc that night. He was brash, he was sweaty, he was loud, but he sure had passion for what he was doing. And for the hour and a half they played, so did we. Jumping up and down under the stars, screaming until we were hoarse.

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