Being in a band is often a humbling thing. Of course, there are initial visions of success and fame, but pretty quickly you realize that those are just dreams. Most often, bands come together, record an album, make a push, get discouraged or start to fight internally, and break up. Then they go get real jobs or start families and assimilate into adult life.
Those of us who keep at it find something else to motivate us beyond those initial desires. For Miss Ohio, those motivating factors have always been clear. First, it’s the joy of creating something with your friends. It saddens me that most adults likely never have that experience. All of the songs in the Miss Ohio catalog started as simple acoustic demos that were then built up, molded and transformed by the collective vision of each individual member. If there’s one single reason this band has lasted so long, it’s the pure luck of having good, smart people in the band. When Jim and I started writing songs in his attic, it was really just because we were friends and wanted to hang out together. When we met Pietro and Brandon, it wasn’t their musicianship that got them into the band, it was that they were good, funny people we enjoyed being around. When Ed came along, we didn’t even know if he could play bass, we just knew that we liked being around him. And our pal Paul Sherard, who has bailed us out on more than one occasion, is, beyond being an absolutely amazing musician, a pleasure to have around.
Over the years, this has extended to those we have met either by playing with their bands or meeting them at shows. When you get to be our age, people stop thinking it’s cool that you are in a band and start to say things like “you’re still playing music? Good for you!” For those of us who stick at it, there is a certain camaraderie and shared affection that is very much like being in a secret society. Despite that hardships and mild indignities that come with being in a rock band, there really is nothing better. There are many, many great bands out there making great music. I’m proud to call some of them my friends.
The other thing that has kept this band going is the joy of having a secret life. Miss Ohio has never been a traditionally successful band. We don’t sell a lot of CDs. We don’t bring a lot of people to shows. Still, that hasn’t ever changed how we approach the band. In my mind, Miss Ohio is a band that matters. In my most whimsical moments, I imagine some future person stumbling upon one of our songs and discovering that there is an entire discography waiting to be discovered. If that never happens, I’m just as happy to know that someday I’ll look back on all of this as a sort of diary. It is, literally, the soundtrack of my life, or at least my life over the last decade and a half (even as I type that I think “that can’t be true!”)
I’ve never done anything as long as I’ve been in Miss Ohio. It’s almost startling to consider how much different my life is now from when Jim and I first got together to make music. Most of the bands we have played with broke up long ago. Most of the clubs we have played are closed down. No matter. The songs keep coming. The fellas keep showing up to practice. Our friends keep finding places to book shows.