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Our brush with fame

February 15, 2011

My oldest sister and I got to do something really cool last Saturday night.

We got to hang out with a band. More specifically, one of the most awesome bands to come out of the state of Iowa, The Nadas.

Now, I’ve been a fan of The Nadas for nearly 14 years – ever since I was a freshman at Iowa State in 1997 (in fact, I met the hub at one of their shows my senior year of college. I like to say if it weren’t for The Nadas, I wouldn’t be married.). In that time, the band has released seven studio albums, numerous live albums and a bunch of really cool videos. They’ve traveled and toured in nearly every state in the country, have opened for Bon Jovi and were featured in Playboy (fully clothed). They’re also some of the biggest patrons and promoters of the Des Moines (and Iowa) art/music scene and support Iowan companies like Templeton Rye. In short, they’re really freaking awesome.

Last year, the band’s tour bus (once owned by the incomparable Meatloaf – yes, that Meatloaf) needed some serious work in order for the band to go out and do their tour (well, tour in relative comfort, anyway). So they set up a fundraising drive. Various donation levels came with different perks, one being a backstage pass to one of their shows. My sister got that and decided as I was the one who introduced her to The Nadas, that I should be the lucky one to go with her and see what it’s like backstage. I could only afford a t-shirt from the fundraiser, but an extremely rocking t-shirt it is.

Their show on Saturday was the closest one to both of us, so we got all gussied up and headed to The Hub in Cedar Falls to hang with the band.

Despite what movies and TV have led me to believe, being in a band isn’t always glamorous. I’m sure there are plenty of times and places where the band has a cushy green room filled with microbrews and assorted goodies and an actual bathroom, but this wasn’t one of them. The green room at the Hub is small, dark and kind of dingy (which is to be expected as it’s in the basement of a bar, I mean, come on. It’s not exactly The Tonight Show). And it’s red. But whatevs.

With the band. Front (L-R) my sister, me, the awesome violinist Becca (who rocks the low-top Chucks like nobody’s business and makes playing the violin look cool. Plus, I want her hair.). Back (L-R) guitarist and singer Jason W., guitarist and singer Mike, drummer Jason S. (not to be confused with guitarist Jason, who has admirably more facial hair) and bassist Jon. This photo was taken with the auto-timer on my little point-and-shoot camera, hence the fuzzy quality. And Jason W. had to figure out how to set the timer because I rarely use my P&S anymore. Give me my good old Canon DSLR any day.

Here’s what we learned in our 15 minutes (ok, so it was more like 3 hours) with fame. The band works hard. Really hard. Every night they perform. The previous night they played a show in Iowa City, and I have a feeling they were feeling the effects the next day. But they couldn’t go home and lounge on the couch and tell their kids to please walk more quietly, because Mommy has a headache (like I did on Sunday). They have to get up, pack all their gear and head to the next show, wherein they’re expected to Rock.  They’ve been doing this for 17 years. That’s a long time, and a lot of shows. Yet, they continue to rock it.

The band is really down to earth. They asked us questions about what we did and even looked at pictures of our kids (yes, I was that mom). They’re also generous. They comped us a few drinks on their tab and let us put in some requests for the show (though, now that I think of it, I don’t know if they actually got to them. The end of the night is a little hazy.). They always made sure we were comfortable (as comfortable as you can be on a wooden chair in a bar basement, anyway). They’re funny and have a camaraderie that comes with working together. As a fan, we only see the interactions on stage – but seeing them in a different element has made me appreciate the work they do even more.

The show was good. It’s not the best I’ve been to, I think that honor goes to the final show at People’s in 2007, but it was good. My sister and I had a great time singing and dancing in front of the stage and generally being those girls. It was our one chance to go out and have fun as 30-something sisters and not Moms. Though, I sincerely apologize to the band and the people around us if we inadvertently spilled any drinks or accidentally stepped on anyone. Like I said, by the end of the night, things got a bit hazy. But we had a great time and really appreciate the opportunity to go backstage and see things that fans normally don’t get to see.

Thanks so much to The Nadas for 17 years of hard work and amazing songs. As long as you keep putting out music and doing shows, we’ll be there to dance in the front row.

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