From Barry to The Bishop: One Groupie’s Journey

Ohhhhhh, Mandy!

My first concert was Barry Manilow. It was 1978 and my college-age babysitter Mary took me to see him at Pine Knob Music Theatre in Clarkston, Michigan. I was 10 years old, apparently too young to know or care how utterly uncool Barry is by most people’s standards. To make matters worse, I had a huge crush on him. I distinctly remember running down the hill on the lawn at Pine Knob singing, “I am stuck on Barry Manilow, but he ain’t stuck on me,” (to the tune of the “I am stuck on Band-Aid” commercial, which some of you 40-something readers may recall).

While my love for Barry waned, at least slightly, my love for music never did. My sister was into disco, so I became a huge Donna Summer fan. My brother was a rock-and-roller, so he balanced things out with some Hendrix and Zeppelin. He is also responsible for my love of The Doors, which reached its height in my 20s, but apparently began much earlier. I’m told that my aunt and uncle took preschool-age me to church with them one Sunday and apparently got a big surprise. When everyone else stood up to sing a hymn, I burst into a resounding version of the chorus of “Light My Fire.”

Since I believe in full disclosure, I must also admit that I had a brief obsession with Shaun Cassidy in the late 1970s (as did pretty much every other tween-age girl at the time). His poster was on my wall and I played his eponymous first album relentlessly. I may cringe at the sound of a Justin Bieber song today, but I can’t judge too harshly given my love for Shaun. (I am happy to report that my 10-year-old daughter has an iPod full of Adele, The Beatles and Death Cab for Cutie.)

The musical accompaniment to my junior high and high school years was predominantly punk rock, new wave and alternative in nature, and my angst was only outweighed by the ridiculousness of my haircuts. I have a shoebox full of concert stubs and photos, but I’ll save those stories for another day.

Fast forward to age 44: I’m married to a guy who loves music almost as much as I do, and we have two talented musicians for children. My husband plays bass, my daughter plays trumpet, and my son, the musical phenom, plays guitar, alto saxophone, piano and ukulele. My husband’s band, The Bishop, plays gigs around town and in Chicago on a regular basis. So even though I’m a working mom who’s expected to behave maturely on a daily basis, I still get to indulge my groupie side every now and again.

It’s been a long journey from Barry to The Bishop. Thanks, Mr. Manilow, for lighting my fire (apologies to Mr. Morrison).