Bandgirl's Blog











Although I have been actively performing for over ten years with Silverwing, I haven’t always been the bass player.  The bass playing has just been in the last two years, when our last bass player moved on.  At that point, the band consisted of my husband Mel on Lead Guitar and Vocals, Me on rhythm guitar and Frank on drums.

The most logical thing would be to hire a new bass player, but instead Mel asked me if I would consider playing bass, so we could add a different instrument, like steel or keyboards.  I’d done about 3 or 4 songs on bass, mostly plunking out root notes, but I was game.  And Mel is very kind and supportive, even when I hit some terrible note, he just cringes and smiles that smile, you know the one, the smile that says, “what the heck was that?”

So I take on learning about 75 songs on the bass, ugh.  When I use to strum an E chord for 4 measures now I’m playing a walking bass line for 4 measures, so it’s challenging.  But so worthwhile.  I feel like I contribute to the songs in a different way.  I can tell that my part is integral to the feel of the song.  I help it bounce or I drive the walking bass line or I subtly fill in around the edges on a slow ballad.  I’ve decided I really like bass playing and my poor guitars sit alone in their cases wondering what they did wrong.

As one of the few female musicians in our neck of the woods, I could feel special and be impressed with myself, but that is just not my style.  I know the only reason I play professionally is because I’m married into the band.  It’s easier and makes the band more secure when half the band is so connected, so egomania is just not my way.  I’m humbly grateful for all the opportunities that I get to enjoy.  I know when I’m in the old folks home, no one will believe me, but they can just push my wheelchair over in the corner and ignore me while I go on endlessly about my career as a rockstar. Ha!

But as I studied the bass, I discovered the amazing Carol Kaye, a studio musician who performed on over 10,000 recordings in her career.  From TV theme songs like Mission Impossible and Get Smart to iconic rock songs like La Bamba and Sloop John Be to film scores for Quincy Jones, Carol Kaye was part of a group of studio musicians who performed for the greatest composers on the greatest recordings of that era.

Legend has it that a fellow musician did not show up for a recording session, although Carol was hired to play the guitar, she picked up the Fender bass and played his part on the Beach Boys album “Pet Sounds”

She played for Glen Campbell on Rhinestone Cowboy and is credited with inspiring the introduction to Wichita Lineman.

Since we live in Fallon, NV the current home of Top Gun training school, I have to include Carol’s performance on “The Top Gun Song,”  You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feeling.  (And yes they are supposed to be in San Diego, but those jets are cruising through the mountains right outside my window.)

Well, it’s definitely time for me to practice. I hope you are inspired by Carol Kaye.

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It’s been a busy week promoting Silverwing.

We picked up a new venue at a place called the Flight Bar, guessing it’s next to the airport.  A friend is teaching line dancing and the owners want some live music, so our friend suggested Silverwing.  Always great to get a recommendation, now the pressure is on. We’ve exchanged info on the dances and songs that will make this gig a success for us and for the new dancers.

Then another friend contacted us this week about an opportunity at a casino in Reno, which is looking for some country music.  It’s hard to break into the casino circuit.  Sometimes you need an agent, who will take a cut, for making a few phone calls.  Also you need to have experience and it’s the age old dilemma, you need experience to get the gig, but you can’t get any experience unless you get a gig.  So if we can get in the door, then we’ll work hard to keep it.  Of course the venue needs to support it with some good advertising.

Then we had a killer practice yesterday.  Lots of breaking down the details.  My husband has played for so long, then he does everything by ear.  I, of course, can’t remember s#@t, so I have lots of notes, but no sheet music.  He just listens, picks out the chords, noodles till he has the lead figured out and off we go.  It can be an amazing thing to watch.  Anyway, there was lots of breaking things down.  What is that note, what is the drum beat, where is the stop.  It went from noon to 6pm with lots of smoke breaks, but that’s where we connect and become friends, not just musicians at a job.

Our next gig is this Saturday at our local hangout Boomer’s.  So lots of friends in the crowd.  I’ll let you know if anything crazy happens.

Mary, http://www.silverwingband.com, our cd is available at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/silverwing



Yup, that’s right.  Silverwing has a weekend off from gigging.  We could be practicing, but there is family stuff to tend to this weekend.

So instead we are going to make decisions on some new  songs to add to the set list. Sometimes this is so difficult.

First, we are musical mutts.  We love everything from Deep Purple to Brantley Gilbert, from George Jones to Motley Crue.  But we are a rockin country band, so the Crue is probably out.  It’s tough to make the call, pick the song, put in the practice time and then wait to see if anyone enjoys it.

Next, sometimes we pick a song that just falls flat.  We’ve worked up songs that just didn’t do anything.  The crowd just chatters, gets up to get a drink, heads to the bathroom.  Yikes!  That one is going to the back of the book.

Talking about heading to the bathroom reminds me of Casino Fandango in Carson City.  They pipe the music all over the casino including the parking lot and the bathrooms.  When my husband played with a band there, I headed to the bathroom and while I was in there taking care of business I realize that my husband is singing to me.  Huh!  That’s a weird experience.

Anyway, sometimes they just don’t fly.  Sure the crowd needs a break once in a while.  Maybe we just had them up doing a swing dance and they are catching their breathe, but sometimes we pick a song just doesn’t go over very well.

And finally, we kinda have to like the song, cause we are gonna live with it for quite a while.  Sure, we play songs that aren’t our personal favorites because they are popular at the time, but we also have to enjoy ourselves.  Perhaps the chord pattern is a challenge or it’s has a killer guitar lead or a dramatic drum roll.  Whatever!  We will find a way to enjoy ourselves.

Because rockin’ it up in our country band is all about the fun.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love being a musician.

SW Moonshine Cover

Our CD of original music “Moonshine” is available at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/silverwing.  The music was written by Mel Warstler (holding the dobro, which he plays on the CD) and I helped with all the lyrics.  Check out the title track at http://www.silverwingband.com

Thanks, Mary Warstler



{March 12, 2015}   Practice makes perfect, Not!

In the last post I said I liked the excitement of having a new band member.  I don’t call it nerves.  I call it excitement.

I mentioned that I like the chance that things might go wrong and that we, as a band, will hang on through the mistakes and drag it back on track in time to end the song correctly.  Well…….. guess who the culprit was in the band trainwreck.  Oh, that would be ME.

Ha! I shoulda never brought up the subject of a trainwreck, cause that’s all I could think about when we got on stage.  Then I had the first missed note, then a bad note, then an ugly ending, then the wrong tempo, it just goes on and on. It serves me right for bringing the curse down upon myself.

But I’ve learned a lot from my mistakes on stage and it has changed my life in wonderful ways.  When I was a kid, I was so hard on myself.  I cringed at the stupid things that came out of my mouth, especially around good looking boys. I embarrassed myself in front of the classroom so many times. As I got older, I became very quiet and started to withdraw socially. I never went to dances in high school. I never went to football games.  I just hung out in my room with my headphones on listening to music.  I know my parents worried about me.  Heck, I worried about me. Give me a group of laughing teenagers and I was miserable.  All I wanted was to be left alone.

Now here I am standing on stage in front of people, making mistakes, forgiving myself and moving on.  I never thought I would be so well adjusted.

My husband was in a band where the singer would apologize to the crowd over the microphone, drawing attention to the flub.  Not necessary.  For one thing, many of the people in a bar aren’t there as music critics. They are partying and enjoying themselves. Next, the mistake has already drifted away and it’s not going on your permanent record.  It’s long gone by the time the song ends.

Sure, I’d love to be perfect but at the end of the first set, I just had to laugh and let it go. I’ve learned to forgive myself and THAT is the most important thing for me personally.  I owned up to my mistakes with my bandmates who just shrugged and let it go, as well.

The next set was a new beginning and I jumped right in with a new attitude.  Hey, maybe I hung in there and brought myself back from the edge of the trainwreck?

Check us out at http://www.silverwingband.com  our first CD is available at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/silverwing.  All the music was written by my hubby Mel Warstler and I helped with the lyrics.

Thanks, Mary (the bandgirl) Warstlerpondo 022114 #6 good



{March 1, 2015}   Silverwing band practice

The band Silverwing is my husband’s creation.  He was playing a Silverwing gig 20 years ago when I first got to know him and here we are 20 years later, still booking gigs.  Keeping a band together is a challenge.  Mel says a band is like a marriage.  There is give and take, there is tolerance, there is disagreement and resolution, people come and people go.

So recently our long time drummer moved on to another band which plays most of it’s gigs a few miles from his home.  It’s a very popular band with a steady following.  I’m sure he will do a great job for them and enjoy himself, but we immediately replaced him with a young man who really hasn’t been in a band before.

Oh sure, he’s set in with the open mike night crowd and filled in for other drummers, but Silverwing is his first permanent band and he is a grateful fellow.

But it’s time to get up to speed.  Today we spent about 5 hours going over and over the songs in the 4th and 5th sets.  We keep a revolving 5 sets, so we are not predictable.  There is nothing worse than playing the exact same opening song every gig.  We mix it up.  We have 5 sets, but usually only play 3 of them on a night.  So practice, practice, practice.

He is familiar with most of these songs, old country, new country and some classic rock thrown in.  I mean who doesn’t know Sweet Home Alabama.  Anyway, he is catching on fast.  From listening to the song on YouTube, then attempting them ourselves,  he’s working it hard.  Very quick, accurate, good breaks, nice endings, crisp and clean.

One of the best things about our drummer Brandon is that he feels the emotion in our song “Wide Open Spaces.”  There is a lot of drama in the song. It needs a gentle touch, plus a huge crescendo.  He’s making us proud and bringing lots of feeling to the song. When that song is played well, it is magic.

Find “Wide Open Spaces” at cdbaby.com/cd/silverwing.  It is a tribute to Mel’s father and his life out on the ranch.  If you love the wide open spaces give it a listen.

Mary Warstler, the bandgirl, is the bass player, vocalist, and songwriter for http://www.silverwingband.com.  Listen to our song “Moonshine” and check out our next gig.  Join us for a rockin’ country goodtime. Follow us on FB http://www.facebook/silverwingband and twitter.com/SilverwingTunes.



{February 26, 2015}   From Rhythm Guitar to Bass Guitar

I learned to play the guitar from my brother who was wounded in Viet Nam.  He went out and bought two Yamaha classical style with nylon strings and the wide neck.  I’m showing my age, but it was a large guitar for a 10 year old girl.  He got a couple Mel Bay books and figured out the chords and we started learning a few song together.  It was the time of Cat Stevens, CSNY and Gordon Lightfoot.  Woodstock was happening up the road from our town in NY.  It was magical.  I remember the beauty of strumming each chord over and over till it was perfect, no buzz, no dull, just magic.

I joined the church folk mass group and they were devoted John Denver fans. We perfected arpeggios and daydreamed.  My brother moved up in the world and bought a Gibson Hummingbird in around 1973. Imagine what that would be worth if I still had it somewhere hidden away in a closet, but it disappeared, probably pawned as times got tough.

I took lessons from John Quara, who took me through many books.  He worked professionally in some big band in NYC and I played rhythm to lots of big band music during lessons, not really the direction I was hoping to go. I dreamed of being Judy Collins, so I lost interest.

It was years before I picked up a guitar, many years of college, work, marriage, kids, divorce, loneliness.  I didn’t even have a guitar hidden away in a closet. I just left it behind, but one day I picked it up and amazing things have happened.

I can’t wait to tell the stories that took me from strumming that guitar to playing bass professionally.  It’s become the anchor of my life today. More stories to follow.

Visit our website at http://www.silverwingband.com.  I co-wrote the lyrics for the song “Moonshine” that plays on the home page, pick up our cd at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/silverwing.  I play rhythm and co-wrote most of the lyrics.  Yeah, life is good.

Thanks, Mary Warstler



{March 9, 2010}   About Guitarchics.com

I just finished creating my first website, Guitarchics.com where I will honor beautiful female guitarists.  I want to encourage girls to learn how to play the guitar.  Being a guitar player is fun and a great hobby.  My site needs a little editing, but I am going to add to it all the time.  I plan on adding chords charts to new songs and links to great guitar gear.  Hope you enjoy it.



et cetera