My first band was called Gumption Trap. It was the worst band name in rock ‘n roll history. You’ll never find Gumption Trap on the t-shirt rack at the town square of Hipsterville.
We played Lollapalooza in the summer of 1996. We were hired to run The Chill Tent. We brought everyone we knew from the New York Underground. A few weeks later, all of the bands we invited had a show of their own. We weren’t invited.
When I asked why, a guy told me this, “The problem with you, Greg, is you’re a fan who wants to be treated like a peer.” It stung! But he was right. So I decided right then and there to drop the idea of ever being a peer and move through life like a fan.
Cuz to Hell with that guy!
My next band was called Hideous Underwear. It was a comedy rock duo. We played the open mics in the East Village of New York City. It was a blast, the most fun I have ever had. But my family got into trouble in Chicago and I had to go home. I had to help.
Despite my best effort, I couldn’t fix the problem in Chicago. It cost me all of the momentum I had been building in New York. So it goes. I stole that from Kurt Vonnegut. He understands. He said it was okay.
I jumped into the Musical Improv Program at Second City. I loved the experience and the people I was lucky enough to perform with but they were writing songs to be funny and I wanted to write songs with an emotional center. So I began hitting open mics on my own.
At the time, Max’s Deli came into my life so I moved back to the town of my youth, Highland Park. It felt like a curse, since my younger-self vowed never to return. But my older-self had to eat the vow. Turns out, vows taste like chicken.
I treated Highland Park like Punxsutawney, the town from Groundhog Day, in that I was going to use every opportunity to get things right so I could be liberated. I had no idea how dangerous it is to have liberation as your intention.
It worked. It worked too well. Google “Greg Morelli Max’s Deli.” Get back to me. Tell me what you think. Oh, and enjoy the songs. Looking back, I can hear myself working through something, trying to laugh at the overwhelmingness, mostly failing but giving myself a break.
We can all use a break.