That night aft going to several clubs, the girls decided to end the night at a small bar that featured live music. It wasn’t as fancy as the other places they had gone to, but it wasn’t a dump either. As they finished ordering their drinks the light dimmed and the house band came out, it was an all male band except for the bass player. She was a girl of average height and despite the heavy make up she was very pretty. The girls listened to the music; Keri made faces of disgust as she didn’t particularly like it and thought the group was terrible, except for the bass player. It seemed that her sister agreed as she said, “What a horrible group don’t you guys think, except for the girl, she’s incredible. Somehow she doesn’t fit in with the rest.”
“Yeah, y’ know we should give her a try,” said Christy.
“We should, but don’t you think that would be unethical.”
“What do you mean Erica?” asked Keri.
“Well, wouldn’t we be stealing her from them?”
“Your sister is right kid,” Christie said.
“She’s a person, not a thing, anyway it wouldn´t hurt to ask. Let her make up her mind.”
“As always, dear, dear sister you are right,” Erica said with sarcasm in her voice.
After the band ended their set, the three girls headed backstage and toward the dressing room area. They walked a through a dimly lit narrow hall until it widen a bit and a couple of doors were located on each side. They weren’t sure which door was a dressing room or a storage area as they were unmarked. They stood there for a couple of minutes, trying to decide what to do, until the choice was made for them. Just as they were heading for a door they heard a loud sound, like something heavy falling on the floor, then they heard voices at first softly, but then it grew louder until it was clear to them that there was some type of argument going on. The girls tried to locate the door where it was coming from and that also was made clear as they heard it opening and then saw the girl they were looking for coming out.
“Get out of here you fucking bitch and don’t even think of coming crawling back to me you useless cow,” said a voice from inside the room.
“I won’t and I don´t need you or you crummy band. You guys suck big time, good luck finding a new bass player.”
“Fuck off,” said another voice. The girl didn’t answer back and started to walk away.
“Should we?” asked Christie.
“Yes, we should this may be our only chance,” replied Erica.
“Um, excuse me, miss,” said Keri as she walked toward the girl.
“Yeah, what do you want,” she said without looking up.
“Um, we just wanted to ask you something, but I guess this might not be the time.”
“Oh, sorry,” said the girl as she saw them, “I didn’t mean to be so rude, it’s not you I’m mad at. So what is it you want to ask me?”
“Hi, I’m Keri Philips and the blonde is my older sister Erica and the brunette is Christine Ross and we are starting a group and well we heard you and think you are an amazing bass player and well we want to try you out.”
“Are you any good? No offense but last time I joined a group I ended playing with a bunch of wannabes who are total losers.”
“We think we are and our producer thinks so too and I totally agree, your former band sucks.”
“Yeah, the Black Vipers, makes them sound dangerous, ha. So, you guys have a producer.”
“Yes and if our instincts are right about you, we won’t need anybody else,” said Erica.
“Here is where you have to go for the try-out,” said Christie, handing her a piece of paper. The girl looked at the address written on it. “Be there at 10:00 AM sharp,” she added.
“This is on the level?”
“Yes,” they all said enthusiastically.
“Wow, I’ll be there, you can count on that,” she said with an ear to ear smile. “Oh, I’m Jesse, Jesse Blake, by the way.”
“Well, Jesse, welcome aboard,” said Erica.
The following day found Erica and Keri in front of a quiet suburban house, both girls carrying Erica’s guitar cases.
“Are you sure this is the place?”
“It’s got to be, Christie gave me this address.”
“Okay, so I guess we have to ring the bell.” Keri started to walk up the driveway toward the door, but before she got there it opened and Christine was coming out. “Geez, are you a mind reader.”
“No, I heard you arrive.”
“So, is this your place?”
“Nope, it belongs to a friend. He has a small studio set up above the garage, that’s where will try out Jesse and rehearse.”
“Oh, okay, he does have amps, right?”
“Yes, he does.”
“Hi,” said a female voice. Christine and Keri turned around and Erica, seeing the girl walked toward her. “I hope I’m not late.”
The three girls looked at the newcomer; there was something familiar about her. The girl, with black shoulder length hair and dressed simply with pink top and dark blue jeans, looked at them and then gave them a little smile. She was carrying a guitar case, which after a little while she put down, to ease the awkwardness of the moment.
“Oh, wow, it’s you Jesse,” said Erica, “sorry, it’s just that without all that make up you look completely different.”
“It’s all right, I’m glad I don’t have to wear all that gunk in my face. At last I’m me again and it feels great.”
“Wow, I guess the Black Vipers was not a good experience for you?” said Keri.
“Keri, right? You have no idea what it was like. So where do we go to do my try-out?
“Right,” said Christy, “follow me.” She headed toward the side of the garage and walked up the stairs, everyone else walking behind her. Keri and Jesse were talking while Erica walked silently and in deep thought.
When they entered the studio they were greeted by a man in his mid-thirties, who was behind a professional mixing board.
“Hey, Jack, is everything ready?”
“All set Christie, you girls can plug-in any place you like.”
After setting up, Erica grabbed her acoustic guitar and a notebook and called to the others. The rest of the group came and she started playing a song, it was the same one she had played the day before, but this time it was complete, thanks to an assist by Keri. After playing it through she gave a few directions then they all went back to their places.
“Christie,” said Erica, “will you do the honor of counting it.”
Christie did and the music started playing. At first everything was going as planned, but then suddenly a second voice started singing, adding an extra depth to the song. Everyone was taken by surprise and stopped, except the person who provided the extra vocals: Jessie, who not only continued to sing, but continued to play her bass. For the first time everyone was hearing her extraordinary playing, a mix between the roughness she had gotten from the Black Vipers and a wonderful melodic sound. Suddenly the girl noticed that everyone had stopped playing and she stopped as well. Seeing everyone looking at her she turned red and put her head down.
“Sorry,” she said embarrassed, “but I felt the harmonies felt right.”
“Don’t be sorry, Jesse, you didn’t do anything wrong. You just took us all by surprise, that’s all. In fact, you have a wonderful voice and your instinct was right. Isn’t that right girls?” said Erica.
They all agreed and Christie asked Jack to playback the track, which he immediately did. They listened to it and were amazed at how Jesse’s voice made the song even more amazing. After the track stopped, they all went back to their places and rehearsed the song several more times, trying different arrangements and working the vocal harmonies. After several hours of work, they took a quick lunch break and continued to work on other songs.
It was late when they decided to finally end their work and it was agreed by Erica, Keri and Christie that Jesse would be the final member of the group and then they official welcomed her.
“So, what do you guys call this outfit?” asked Jesse in a casual tone.
“Wow, y’ know we’ve been so busy getting it together we never thought of a name,” replied Keri.
“May I suggest a name?”
“Sure, Jesse,” said Christie.
“Well I was thinking Wylde Flowers, y’ know we’re girls, so I thought that would refer to the ‘Flowers’ part, but we’re free and nobody is going to tell us what to do, so that’s where the ‘wild’ part would fit, except that we change the ‘i’ for a ‘y’ and add the ‘e’ at the end.” The others liked how the name sounded and agreed without hesitation.
“So be it,” said Erica, “from now on we shall be known as the ‘Wylde Flowers’.” They all laughed and soon everyone headed home, knowing that the next day they would meet at Ryan’s studio early and hopefully launch their musical career.
The next day everyone had arrived early at the studio and by noon they had recorded two songs. Ryan pleased with the work they had accomplished in just a few hours called everyone to the booth.
“Alright girls, quite impressive what we’ve accomplished and well I’ve got a couple of announcements to make. First Peter Childe owner of a very exclusive restaurant and one of the few that features live music will hold a talent contest in two weeks. Peter and I are good friends and he tells me that his current house band will be leaving due to having signed a contract with a record company and is looking for a replacement band, but he also informed me that several company scouts will be there as well, so not only those the winner get a steady gig, but the possibility of getting more exposure.”
“Clear up one thing for me Ryan, we get the gig and the record deal, yet his house band left due to getting signed up, so how is that going to work?” asked Christie.
“I believe he’s worked something out with the companies. He didn’t give all the details, but the bases of the contest will be published within the week in newspapers and trade publications. Now that that’s settled, on to the other news, like I said we did some excellent work and with the contest coming up you girls need a little bit of exposure so that people know who you are during the contest, so I called a friend of mine who owns a local radio station and he agreed to play a few recordings, meaning you better help me pick out a couple of songs so we can send them to the station.”
“Wow, we’re going to be on the radio,” said Keri full of excitement.
“You sure are kid, so let’s get to work.”
The following week, the Wylde Flowers’ first official single played several times a week in the radio, first exclusively in the station owned by Ryan’s friend, but it proved to catch on so fast that Ryan was forced to send more copies to other stations. By the time of the contest came the song “True Hearts” was a certified local hit and it would be national if there were any commercial copies, which unfortunately wasn’t the case…yet. The girls were thrilled by the unexpected success of the song, but what at one time had been an uncompleted tune with a mysterious and haunting melody that only a few weeks earlier Erica had called “a work in progress” had developed into the most beautiful song ever and the lyrics that sister Keri had written rose the song into something beyond Erica’s or anyone else’s expectations, but it was Erica’s voice that added the finishing touch. Erica sang from within her heart and soul, the melody almost hypnotic like a siren’s song.
But despite this initial success Ryan reminded them that they still had a long road ahead of them and that they still needed to win the contest. The girl’s knew it, but they felt that now they needed to top themselves with “True Hearts” being their strong number and perhaps their only number they could end up as one hit wonders if they didn’t present songs just as good or better than “True Hearts”, so for the entire week they practiced and worked on the songs they felt should be part of their set list. Obviously “True Hearts” was obligatory, but they decided to put it as the last song. “Like a Wondering Star”, a song that the group had recorded the first time they played together was refined and “Long Road”, the song that Erica had written and was refined by Keri the first day she walked into the studio was decided to be the opening song.
Finally the day arrived for the contest and even though the girls had worked so hard to present their A-game and feeling ready, they all felt nervous. This was the first time they would appear in public and their unexpected success wasn’t helping any of them feel at ease, in fact it added extra pressure.
The back area of the “Paris Café” was large, given that the café itself wasn’t very big, but that was due to the fact the owner Peter Childe wanted to have a comfortable area for the bands that played. The “Paris Café” had been around for forty years and since it opened its doors in 1971 it had always presented live music. It was only five years ago that he decided to do “battle of the bands” type contests to promote new groups or replace his main “house band”, which he’s done only twice in this format, the other 35 years he held private auditions. The contest format had proved popular enough with his young clientele that new groups appeared constantly, some good, some bad and some that were simply great. This year was no different as at least six bands, including the Wylde Flowers, entered the contest officially and many more were rejected. To enter the contest each group would send a demo and based on quality the group would either be accepted or rejected, the girls sent their demo early and before “True Hearts” was sent to the radio station, but to Jesse’s dismay the “Black Vipers” also made it. Everyone was surprised, how could such a terrible group make it and how did they get a new bass player to replace Jesse so fast. The answer to the second question was answered as soon as the “Vipers” showed up, with Jesse’s ex and lead vocalist Jake Adams in the lead the group recognized the bass player as the studio musician who had been backing Erica before Keri came to town.
“Well that explains everything,” said Keri sarcastically.
“Easy sis, you did quite enough insulting those studio musicians that first day, you don’t need to rub it in.”
“Oh, alright, whatever you say big sister.”
“And you don’t need to mock me either.”
“Wylde Flowers, calling the Wylde Flowers to come to the stage for sound check rehearsal,” said a voice through the P.A. system. The girls gathered their instruments, except Christie who only brought her drum sticks, as a drum kit was provided.
Once they got on stage the girls were settling in, Christy tried the drums, luckily Mr. Childe had top-notch equipment and the drums were up to her standards. Meanwhile Erica, Keri and Jesse were settling their positions on stage, when Jake showed up on stage and headed straight for Jesse.
“What do you want Jake?” said the young bass player.
“To settle things once and for all, babe,” he replied coldly.
“I’m not your ‘babe’ and as far as I’m concerned everything is settled, so why don’t you buzz off.”
“Now listen you, you little skank, no one talks to me that way, you hear,” he said as he grabbed her left wrist and slowly pressed harder and harder.
“Hey let go of her!” screamed Keri as she walked toward them and quickly followed by the rest of the group and a few stage hands. As Jake saw the crowd gather around them he let go of Jesse, her face expressing pain, Erica ran to help her friend.
“Are you okay, honey?” asked Erica, concern in her voice.
“Yeah, I’ll be fine in a minute.”
“Okay, you win this round, nope, you don’t,” said Jake as he grabbed Jesse’s bass from the floor held it above his head and smashed it to the floor. “Now your group is out of the contest.”
“And so is yours Mr. Adams, please get out of the premises before I have you thrown out,” said Mr. Childe who came in at that very moment.
“Fine, whatever, it was worth it, at least that worthless bitch and her group won’t play,” Jake said as he walked out.
As for Jesse, she was down on her knees holding the broken bass, tears in her eyes. Her friends gathered around her comforting her.
“Sorry, you guys, we’ve worked so hard for this and then my troubles…,” she choked and started to cry.
“Hey, you don’t have to be sorry about anything sweetie,” said Christy.
“Yeah, it’s not your fault that guy is a jerk, Jess,” said Keri.
“But now we can’t play,” she replied between sobs.
“Who says we won’t,” said Erica. “We’ve worked too hard for something like this to stop us. Mr. Childe is there a music store near here?”
“Yes, there is one just two blocks from here.”
“Why do you want to know about a music store?” asked Christy.
“I have an idea that…”
“What the hell happened here?!” said Ryan as he walked up the stage.
“Thank God you’re here Ry, we had a bit of a problem with the ‘Black Vipers’’ lead singer Jake Adams. He broke Jesse’s bass and well she isn’t feeling too good right now. If you could stay with her for a while will be back to do our sound check,” said Erica.
“Where are you girls going?”
“We’re going to make sure our show goes on.”
As the three girls walked out of the café Erica told her friends her idea. It was really simple: just buy a new bass for Jesse.
“Between the three of us we don’t have enough to buy a great bass,” Keri pointed out.
“Will just have to buy the best bass we can afford.”
The girls walked the two blocks to the store and entered, a small bell rang as they opened the door. A middle-aged man came from the back of the store and as he stopped in the front counter.
“How can I help you?”
Erica walked to where the man was and explained the situation and as he listened to her from time to time he nodded his head.
“Well, I do have some very good and affordable basses here, I’m particularly proud to own the only line of musical instruments made by a local manufacturer. Most people don’t buy them, since they aren’t made by the big companies, but I assure you they are of top quality, if you’d like to try a few models and see which one you like just ask.”
Erica looked at her wrist watch and saw they had enough time she agreed to the store owner’s suggestion. The saw a few models and picked out the ones they liked and tried them, finally decided on one and bought it.
“Mister, you’re a life savior,” said Erica as they walked out.
“Yeah, you can tell your friends you just saved the career of the ‘Wilde Flowers’,” Keri chimed in.
“Wilde Flowers? You are that new group I keep hearin’ on the radio?”
“We sure are, bye now,” replied Christy as she left the store.
Back at the café Jesse had calmed down when her friends walked in.
“Hey, honey, glad you’re feeling better,” said Christy.
“You sure took your sweet time getting back. Where were you, anyways?”
“We went to a music store and bought a new bass. It’s not as nice as your old one, but it’s pretty good,” said Erica as she handed the box to Jesse.
She opened the box and took the instrument out and examined it carefully, she then grabbed her old strap and placed it on the bass. After plucking a few strings she looked at her friends and smiled.
“I love it, thank you. You know that broken bass was the first one ever owned. I saved money for months to buy it, I learned how to play with it, but in the end I did it because of Jake, so I guess him breaking it up finally closed that chapter in my life and this wonderful gift from you officially starts a new one.”
“You know he doesn’t feel that way and he’ll cause trouble whenever he gets a chance,” said Keri.
“Yeah, but I’m not alone, right.”
“Right,” said Erica.
“Y’know,” said Christy, “from this point on, if things keep going the way they are things might get difficult, so I think we should all promise to stick together no matter what.”
“Agreed,” said Erica.
“Agreed,” replied Keri and Jesse at the same time.
“Well, now that all is settled you girls need to get ready to win a contest, so get going,” Ryan said.
“Okay, okay, we’re going, don’t get so pushy Ryan or I may stop liking you,” Erica replied.
Later that night as the “Wylde Flowers” turn came to play the nervousness was gone, but for Jesse Blake it was a lot more special as not only did she get the opportunity to play with the most amazing group, but that day she had gained not only the most wonderful friends but also sisters and no matter what lay ahead she knew they would face the good and the bad together as one.
Coming in Febuary another exciting Wylde Flowers’ story: “Destiny In Our Hands”.