I felt like I was living in a fabulous 1980s dream on Thursday night. I was backstage at Pine Knob (I suppose I'll never get used to calling it the DTE Energy Music Theatre) with the Go-Go's Kathy Valentine (bass), Gina Schock (drums) and Jane Wiedlin (guitar). All in our 50s, we were behaving like 20-something school girls, dancing while the B-52's sang "Roam" to a crowd of thousands of enthusiastic fans before the Go-Go's turn to take the stage.
The Go-Go's and the B-52's have been two of my favorite bands for 30 years. I remember the first time I saw the Go-Go's video for "Our Lips are Sealed" on MTV in 1981, the year the band released its No. 1 album Beauty and the Beat and the 24-hour satellite music channel was launched.
I thought, "What's this? A girl playing drums? A girl playing bass?" I'd never seen anything like it. I wanted to meet them and hang out. It took nearly 24 years, but I got my chance in 2005 when I met Kathy in Seattle at the Rockrgrl music convention. Our worlds collided when Kathy, of the most famous all-girl rock band in history, and I, of the much-less-famous all-mom rock band, the Mydols of Royal Oak, participated in a panel discussion called "Life After Birth: Can You Be a Mom and a Musician Too?"
The course for our paths to cross started in 2002 when both of us started a second act of our lives. At the time, I was 42-year-old soccer mom turned rocker mom, while lifelong rocker Kathy became a mother for the first time at age 43, giving birth to daughter Audrey.
At the Rockrgrl panel discussion, before a group of about 50 people, we took questions on how to juggle a music career, diapers, soccer games, minivans and the like. When it was over, we had a private chat and have kept in contact since.
In 2008, I traveled with my husband, John, to Austin, TX, to stay with Kathy and her family for a couple of days while I attended the SXSW Music Conference. I remember staying in her guest room and there on a dresser was a nomination plaque for "Best New Artist" from the 1982 Grammys.
All these years later, I've come to respect Kathy as a wonderful mother who also happens to be a darn good bass player. I love how she's managed to balance a music career and motherhood. It's a lot easier for me to do both, when all my gigs are in practically in my own backyard. When I asked her how she manages, she said motherhood requires "discipline and diligence."
Kathy's been on the road most recently since May 14, when all of the GoGo's members gathered in Los Angeles to begin rehearsals for their spring tour. On May 24, the band appeared in the season finale of Dancing with the Stars. (GoGo's lead singer Belinda Carlisle was a contestant on the show in 2009.) Kathy said Audrey, now 8 years old, really wanted to go, but couldn't. They were told to be in the show's televison audience you must be at least 13 years old.
"She was really disappointed," she said. "To make up for it, her dad brought her to our first show in Vegas."
After that mother and daughter were separated for two weeks.
"I was sad I had to miss the end of her school year," Kathy said. The first chance she got, Kathy flew home to Texas and brought Audrey back with her on the tour.
"She traveled with the band for five days. She loved it," she said. "It was just the two of us. I was lucky. It seemed like there was always another child around for her to hang out with backstage while the band performed."
At age 52, Kathy is considering a third act. She is writing a Twitter memoir at www.twitter.com/kvmemoir. She also is interested in writing screenplays or opening a shoe store in her hometown of Austin.
She draws her inspiration from her daughter who wants to be a professional singer, author, artist and dancer.
"I love the way children see life," she said. "My daughter's view of the world is you can do anything you want."
Like mother, like daughter.