I’ve been loving CMT’s “Day Jobs” show. It’s so much fun to see country stars grinding out tasks they once tackled in another life and witnessing the hilarity that ensues. Over the weekend, we played in Raleigh, NC and I ran into a blast from the past, Scully, who worked on the Hootie and The Blowfish tour I nannied on in 1996. It got me thinking back on my own history of employment and I thought I’d write an homage to those brave souls who’ve employed me as I started out.
I’ll tell you straight up, I haven’t held many jobs. Like, only two real ones other than playing music. I also realized I could never be on a show like “Day Jobs” because it would just be 5 hours of video of me sitting in a law office library filing paperwork and taking regular “mental health breaks” to play internet solitaire. Doesn’t make for great TV. But it did get me through those first couple years post-college of needing part time, flexible employment during the day so that I could play gigs at night and get started on this whole wacky music thing.
Resume’ in the year 2000 – Babysitting and Mowing Lawns
It took the entire first semester before my college roommate figured out that I had actually never had a “real” job. The problem was, in high school I was making money hand-over-fist babysitting and eventually playing gigs with my dad around town. My earliest streams of income were tied to the rock and roll life style and I was living the dream. I was a nanny for the daughter of two of my favorite musicians, Peter Holsapple and Susan Cowsill, and my nannying adventures took me everywhere from a hippy commune in Austin where I slept in a cabin normally occupied by a man named Thor (real name) while they played South By South West, all the way to sold-out arenas where they opened for Hootie and the Blowfish. I made enough cash nannying on that Hootie tour to hit my savings mark for my first car.
Here I am in 1995 with my charge Miranda on our way to SXSW. She’ll graduate HIGH SCHOOL this month. Time freakin’ flies people.
Then came the gigs with my dad. Our band was called The Cranston Clements Healing Machine. For much of my senior year, we had a regular Wednesday night set at the Howlin’ Wolf which started at 10pm. This meant that every Thursday I was late to Chemistry class, usually not having done much homework either. (I actually had to clean the chemistry lab to graduate high school because my grades were so pitiful that this was the only way to rack up some much needed extra credit. Thank you for throwing me a bone Mrs. Sonier!)
Me and dad here with The Machine. I usually wore some hot pink wig, or the skirt from my belly dancing costume to these gigs. Here I am in said wig along with stockings that make my legs look like they have fish scales. I was loving life and paying for my own gas!
Then came college and the realization that the rock star life would have to be put on hold. Mom got tired of me hitting her up for cash and when my roommate Ashley (who had been managing Subway chains since she was like 15) found out that I had never held down a real job, she pushed me out the dorm room, down the street to the nearest boutique (which sold Tibetan imports) and filled out the application for me. Resume’: babysitting, gigs in local clubs, assorted lawn care maintenance experience.
Much to my disbelief, the kind gentleman at the Tibetan imports store decided to take a chance on me. It was the first job I’d ever applied for and the first job I ever landed. And it was awesome. During the summers I would work 10+ hour days, along side my best friend Laura Distasi whom I was able to put in a good word for after a year of employment. We sold jewelry, clothing, tapestries and incense, and for 3 years I reeked of Nag Champa and LOVED it.
This doesn’t even look like me, but it’s a great shot of this slice of my life. Working hard or hardly working? You be the judge.
Our boss would take off for several months at a time to go on buying trips in India and Nepal and me and Laura would have the run of the place. It was awesome. One day I was sitting behind the counter practicing my bass (it was a very lax job) and Ringo Starr walked in. He was with his band and they started talking to each other about how their bass player had nearly missed the gig last night. I blurted out “If you’re looking for a bass player, I’m your man!” There was an awkward silence until Ringo started chuckling and said “I’ll bet my bass player would be pretty upset about that!” and then everyone started laughing nervously and Ringo bought a ring and when he left I bought 2 of the same one he’d picked out to give to my mom and her college roommate PLUS I got the whole thing on the surveillance camera which the owner let me take to New Orleans to show my dad. Awesome!
I’d probably just have worked at that boutique for the rest of my life if the owner hadn’t decided that his kids were starting to get pretty fat here in America and decided to move the family back to Nepal. At that point, I had graduated from Berklee and got the call from Theresa Andersson to come tour with her back home in New Orleans. In between gigs with her, I worked at my stepdad’s law office, doing my filing and playing my solitaire. I’ve got nothing but gratitude for both of those jobs and especially for the fact that I’ve gotten to try my hand at making a living playing music for so long now.
What wacky jobs did you hold down before your current career path? Please share!