“Why am I really going to music camp Mother?” Eunice shouted, from her seat at the kitchen table.
“Marjorie pulled a favor with her brother in law!” Martha said.
“Are you trying to straighten me out since I’ve been running wild with my friends? I know that’s what you’re doing mother,” Eunice said.
Or punishment for wisecracking at home?
“I honestly thought you’d embrace it Eunice,” Martha said.
It was true she loved getting lost in her music. It took her outside herself. Music crossed boundaries and overrode life’s problems. It was glorious.
“It sounds like you’ll get to sing in a real studio,” Martha said, as she read from the brochure, “Musicology songwriting and recording experience camp. This summer give your aspiring young musician an opportunity of a lifetime. Well Eunice you’re my aspiring young musician,” she said.
“Mother! Please don’t gloss over the fact you’re forcing me to go away for six weeks!” Eunice said. Being away from home was fine; being away from her own bed wasn’t.
“I’m sorry Eunice,” Martha said, ruefully.
“It’s fine mother, I’ll believe it when I see it is all!” she said. Her mother seemed to have made a miraculous recovery with the news Eunice would be away.
“Well bless your heart,” Martha said, sarcastically. “Are you teasing me girl. Can’t you make an effort? I didn’t have to get you into camp!” she said.
“Ya but Arisbel got a job at Vespa’s Diner downtown. She was going to get me in. I won’t see the girls for soooo long!” Eunice said. Musicology camp actually sounded cool. It also sounded too good to be true like how glitzy amusement park TV commercials make them look so incredible.
“What’s going on in here?” Curtis came in with weekly Pabt’s Blue Ribbon empties already looking to reverse out of the room. “I’m fixin’ to go to Wallymart. Do y’all need anything?” he asked.
“Daddy we were just discussing your sending me away,” Eunice said, with pleading eyes.
“Now what’s with the face? You gotta start somewhere!” he said.
She softened slightly. Perhaps he was disappointed he never pursued his own jazz and blues dreams. All she knew was she’d miss the action around here.
“Wait a sec, you figured out your mothers plan to tuck you away and keep you outta trouble!” he teased.
Alright enough trying to wriggle out of it!
Eunice decided to embrace music camp. Even light-hearted pop songs could feed her ego and make her feel important. Especially sung along with her faux mic on the set of the big budget video she imagined in her bedroom.
She could easily slide into a kickass dominatrix, mermaid or bullfighter persona. Singing was all about being full of yourself, flaunting your body and a free license to be envied. Music didn’t have taboo racial divides like movies did. No matter what your sex or skin color, if you could belt out Chili Peppers, Hole or Whitney you were applauded.
Gabrielle, Arisbel and Patty came by the house the night before Eunice left.
“I can’t believe you’re getting shipped off,” Gabrielle said. “I’ll be working my ass off at Cottonwood golf course for all those ritz crackers so I won’t even miss you.”
“I’m not going that far! Don’t worry we’ll talk on the phone.” Eunice said.
She must not have slept much that night as she dreamt of international stardom. Very funny! It wasn’t as if she’d be discovered at a soda fountain on Sunset and Vine in LA while she lived in Alabama.
The Musicology Program was on Mimosa Road near the waterfront of Gun Island Chute. The focus was songwriting and elements of composing original songs. Students would collaborate in a series of songwriting drills.
Aside from the recording studio, the compound included lodging in cute red cabins with white flowers cascading from window boxes. Each had two bedrooms, a bathroom and sitting room. Eunice would share accommodation with a quiet blond woman named Cecile who had a classical background. Nearby was horseback riding and paddle boat rentals for some fun in between making hit records!
On the first week students met a musician guy named Mike Watts who spoke in technical terms she didn’t understand, “I’ll guide you through the recording process. You will record your written material in a state-of-the-art studio where bands like Skid Row and The Pixies have recorded,” Mike said, pointing down the hall.
At first she thought he was bragging but the place seemed like the real deal. The group of ten students in their late 20s early 30s, mostly rich looking and white. They all looked ultra-serious as if it was going to be cut throat like on a reality show.
Instead of feeling weird being the youngest she was relieved she wouldn’t think of competing with anyone except herself. Eunice still wondered what she was doing there.
“This is a unique opportunity for aspiring musicians such as yourselves to get a sense of how music is made. You will leave here with a professionally recorded CD of your songs.” Mike Watts’ confidence and resume inspired her.
She felt spoiled by listening to the other artists and musicians chit chat about scales, sharps and flats. My darling mother this is not what I expected at all!
Later at the cabin while Cecile was still at mess hall, Eunice called home, “I’ve got a bone to pick with you Mother! Did you spend your life savings for this camp? It’s very nice. Too nice. Marjorie’s connection? I don’t know what to say. Thank you?” she said.
“I’ll only say Angela had a part in it and I’m not to tell you anything more,” Martha said.
Later Eunice would find out it was a three thousand dollar course someone Angela knew couldn’t attend.
The days were filled with classes called sessions in the music business. In music theory they studied the jazz hit parade which meant jazz with vocals, “If y’all are into hard-core jazz that’ll both jangle your nerves and relax you I got Coltrane and Miles Davis for you,” Mike said.
To learn proper musical notes and scales they were tutored by crusty Bernadette, an elderly church lady who’d once been a successful gospel singer in Atlanta. She relished in giving nobody’s like them lessons on rhythm, harmony and melody.
“Is it me or are we in a movie where Bernadette is really a nun with a large ruler?” Eunice joked with the man named Dennis beside her.
He smiled sheepishly.