money where your mouth is

One fourth of the House of Boys is named Jay-rad, and he is a very goofy, very young, ridiculously talented kid. He plays guitar–but not to pick up chicks at open mics. He’s in a band with another ridiculously talented kid who we love, and they’ve just added a drummer and a keyboard, and it is remarkable to me that they aren’t famous, yet, with record labels and recording contracts and a lot of money and T-shirts and a tour and a video with models in it. The world seems like an unfair place, sometimes.

Last night they played a show in Salt Lake, and the remaining three-fourths of the House of Boys and I went to see them, in a tiny little room with a firepit outside. My hair and my skin still smell like smoke this morning. We made it through the terrible band who came before them, kids all sprawling on the floor with their shirts and shoes off, howling into the microphone and banging on a single really big drum. It had to have been an elaborate practical joke. It was not music, it was a terrorist action. They screamed SNAKES AND SNAILS AND PUPPY DOG TAILS while we huddled in the cold and waited for them to go away. They went away, and our kids came on.

You know how when someone you care about, a friend or a relative or
someone you just like and would like to continue looking in the eye,
has a talent, or a skill, a hobby or a predilection? And you want to
support your friend and love your friend and be there for your friend,
of whom you are so extremely proud for being, theoretically, so talented and awesome
and fabulous? So you hope, the very first time that your friend shows
you their talent, or skill, or hobby, you hope very, very hard that
they are not, in fact, awful and embarrassing and that you will not
have to lie enthusiastically in order to preserve your friend’s fragile
artist self-esteem. It is always such, a relief to find out that your
friends do not suck. That they are exactly as talented as you expect them to be, want them to
be, have been hoping (very, very hard) they will be.

Our boys kicked ass. They were charming, had stage presence, their
songs are rocking, live, and moving, inventive and wildly fun and so
good. It was hard to stay still, and it was hard not to sing along and
it was hard to not shout WOOOOOOOO at every chorus because I was so
proud of them, and they were so good, and they are a real, live band,
for whom money and groupies and fame should come pouring in.  Soon, I

Sometimes, Jay wanders around the house without a shirt (“PUT ON A
SHIRT, JAYRAD”) playing a tin whistle or the tambourine or the maracas
and driving the dogs absolutely nuts. But mostly, he’s up in his room,
and he is working. He’s practicing, or recording, or mixing, or writing
new songs. He carries a notebook around with him, and he writes songs
with kind of astonishing lyrics and he is always working. He’s got this
talent, and he’s working, every night. He’s playing music and thinking
about music and doing music and it is so important to him, and he works
at it.

If I told him that he was inspiring–that it is amazing and wonderful to
me, how hard he works, and that he makes me realize how important it is
to do something you love, and how important it is to work at the things
you want to be good at, and he reminds me every day that if you’re a
creative person, if you want to honestly consider yourself a creative
person, you actually have to do those things instead of sitting on your
ass and eating pork rinds, that you can’t waste whatever talents you’ve
got–he’d get very embarrassed and think I was making fun of him. I’d
probably get embarrassed, too, since I’m not very good at being
sincere. He already knows, though, doesn’t need anyone to tell him, that he is a musician, and that is
who he is, and what he does. That’s the really, really important part.

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