The Guitar Hero series on Jemsite features interviews with guitarists and musicians who may not have star status YET, but their current situations have shaped them to be who they are--determined, fond of their craft, and heroes in their own right. Perhaps you'll see in these upcoming entries the next Jimi Hendrix, Melissa Etheridge, or Duane Allman. Or perhaps they'll become household names by doing what they do best---doing their thing.
Judy Davids is not your average soccer mom. Often, she will schedule pick ups from school and soccer games, PTA meetings, making lunches, and chores around another part-time gig--one she's persuaded the other neighborhood moms to try.
Judy Davids is a guitar player--but not just any guitar player--she's a cool rock mommy, one who fell into the hobby at the ripe age of 42 and started a band with other neighborhood moms. And she ain't looking back yet! We hope we're even half as cool as she is in our forties, and that's why we've had no choice but to name her this week's Guitar Hero!
How did the guitar playing start? Why at 42?
My kids were in elementary school at the time, and I was editor of the PTA/student newsletter. One of the students was related to Jack White of the White Stripes and her father arranged for him to come in and be interviewed by the kids. Jack showed up at the school with a guitar and after the interview treated the young journalists to an impromptu concert. I know he was trying to inspire the kids and not me, but the next day I signed up for guitar lessons—I just happened to be 42.
Who were you influenced by guitar and music wise?
Well obviously Jack. Music wise I aspire to be Poison Ivy of the Cramps.
How did you go about creating Mydols?
Well after about a month of lessons, I wanted to start a band. Here’s where my age was problematic. People my age that were in bands had lots of experience and didn’t want me, and newcomers like me were in high school. I was left with no choice. I bought a keg of beer, had a party and bamboozled three neighborhood moms—also with no experience—into starting a band with me, and the Mydols were born.
How do you guys practice? Where do you perform? Just for fun—real entertainment?
In the beginning we practiced in out drummer’s laundry room. These days we have a “real” practice space. We perform all over the country. We’re from Detroit but we’ve played in New York, Chicago, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Cleveland, and Nashville, to name a few. The biggest crowd we’ve ever performed in front of was at a North Star Roller Girl bout in St. Paul. There were 2000 people.
Most moms might argue that at your age, you have so many other responsibilities to worry about—why pick up a guitar and start a band which might look like either something petty or like you’re going through a mid-life crisis and want to be young again?
There is probably some truth to the mid-life crisis thing. I was so bored with my day job and so sick of people not knowing my name—I was just “Dylan’s mom”. I guess I was just acting out. Saying “notice me!” I wanted to be heard.
Tell me about your transformation in clothes, hair, look, and attitude.
I am like Clark Kent. I am mild-mannered by day, but when I get into costume—pink go-go boot, false eyelashes, eyeliner and lipstick—look out! I have had colleagues from work who view me as the mousy mom, practically faint when they saw me on stage.
What would you tell other moms/parents who are looking to do something that may be frowned upon by their peers?
Oh, you know, the obvious—just do it! When you are gone, you don’t want the eulogy to be about how tidy your house is, or how much money’s in your 401K. Do you? I don’t. I want to leave behind a record that showed I really lived my life—love-handles, minivan, screaming kids and all.
Tell me about the book.
I wrote “Rock Star Mommy: My Life as a Rocker Mom” (Citadel Press 2008) last year. It chronicles my journey from soccer mom to rocker—from experimenting with temporary hair coloring (when your hairdresser tells you the pink will wash out over the weekend, she’s lying), to competing in Little Steven’s Battle of the Bands against boys young enough to be my kids, to securing a minivan sponsorship for the band from Dodge. How do you balance it all?
I don’t. I have so much stuff on my plate that things are constantly falling off—but I am having fun and no one has lost an eye—yet.
How do you keep up that rock & roll attitude when you feel old or bad?
Well there are days I look in the mirror and say a mom band is one thing—but a grandma band? The thought is frightening, but not as scary and sitting around doing nothing. So I make dinner, and head off to practice. When the music starts, my worries disappear.