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Being on the road in a rock n roll band has got to be one of the most exciting and educational ways to see the world. It’s not only entertaining and lucrative but also quite hilarious and just dang fun.

The world out there on the open road has its ups and downs for sure and I’d be lying if I said it was glamorous, although there is the part that comes with it where folks will treat ‘ya like a big ol’ star. I’m Rosie Flores, nicknamed the “Rockabilly Filly,” or sometimes called the “Queen of the Road.” Plain truth is as a Honky Tonkin’ musician, I’m a Lifer, and believe me that aint nothin’ to brag about.Bbut it’s really quite phenomenal that I’ve been able to keep on living this life and continue to make a decent living or least enough to keep my eyes from scanning the help wanted ads.

The greatest thing about my life has been how I’ve been able to meet some amazing people and make some lifelong friends. God Bless the loyal fans that follow me, they are the ones who keep me going. I’m happy to sign anything they give me, from Cowboy hats to CD’s, napkins, t-shirts, photos, etc. I stopped at skin after I had the lovely experience of signing a young teenage boy’s derriere and figured it could never get better than that. (Lucky for me his mom was standing by watching my every move.)

The road has long been a familiar landscape that began on my family’s first trip from San Antonio to San Diego, where I started my first band. From a young age my favorite part of traveling was stopping in at the Arizona and New Mexico Trading Posts to shop for unusual Souvenirs. Crazy stuff like colored rabbits foots and cactus jelly candy. I still wear a turquoise ring that my dad bought for me on one of those trips back and forth from California to Texas.

When I figured out that playing music was my life long dream, I moved on up to Los Angeles. Got me a record deal and from that point in the road, the turns and curves, up and down hills have taken me anywhere in the world I’ve wanted to go. As the song says, “I’ve Been Everywhere!” So I decided to share my road stories with people who are curious as to what it’s like from a woman’s point of view on the road singing and playing in a rock ‘n roll band. I decided to remember most of the funny stories and leave some of the tragedy to myth. Some of the names have been changed to protect the guilty or innocent. Alright, time to get in the van.

CHAPTER ONE: Dirty Laundry Candy

It all began in 1983 on the road with the “Screamin’ Sirens,” our all female cowpunk band from LA. Lead singer, Pleasant Gehmen, had a pension for humor and extreme talent in writing and art and entertaining. She was sometimes compared to Jane Mansfield on acid. Then there was Marsky, the clever witted and spunky sort of Lucy Arnez who probably told me not to spend my money on silly things. She’s also the one who threw my rock collection out of the van saying what are all these dang rocks doing in the van.

The “Sirens” and myself are just waking up from the long overnight haul driven by our road manager who we affectionately called “Baby” behind the wheel. We’re on our way to Houston to play at a club called Fitzgerald’s. Boom Boom hollers out “I gotta Pee.” I say “Yeah me too.” Time for a pee and a pop stop, and we all head into the first truck stop off the highway. I’m heading back to the van with my can of pop when I remember Pleasant laughing her head off, screaming and sayin’ “LOOK! It’s a tiny plastic turquoise washing machine filled with candy. It’s called “Dirty Laundry Candy.” On the side of the plastic wrap it says in big letters “It spins!” So the cool thing here is that you can grab this little lever on the side and spin the candy around! When you open the front loading washer door the candy falls out, and it’s shaped like shirts and socks and underwear, PRETTY COOL!

Someone behind me yells out, “I wonder if they’ve got a matching dryer!” And I found myself all over the candy section trying to find one! The next gas stop had me going straight to the candy isles and looking for anything else out there that would crack me up. Someone found it! A candy called “Rock ‘n Roll Stage Plank”. Wowee, gotta have it!! This one is real easy to describe. It’s just a plank of peanut brittle that looks like wood! It was so yummy that the few we bought all got eaten. Sadly, I never found another one of those in that decade.

Maybe the candy was easy to relate to. Our van smelled a lot like dirty laundry. Picture 5 wild “wimmen” and two roadies travelin’ in a Mini-Winnie. On our CB Radio we once heard a trucker say, “Man! Whew! that girly van over there smells like it’s downwind from a dairy farm.” I can’t remember it smelling much like anything else but cigarettes, tequila and beer-stained carpets. Maybe it was the stale stench from a leftover burrito from last night’s fiesta in Phoenix, Arizona, but I don’t really know. Still, the smell was comforting somehow because it smelled like home for the time being.

Doing the dirty laundry, ya gotta do it sometime, right? At least in my band, where smells are an important part of how I feel. Good smell = happy Rosie, Bad smell = grouchy Rosie. Take your pick, boys and girls!

TO BE CONTINUED………………Chapter 2 will appear in the next issue of Dish. Don’t miss it! / Issue 52 - September 8635
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